Great Lakes Today

Finally, some good news for towns that been flooded for weeks by high waters in Lake Ontario.

The lake-wide average water level has remained at 75.85 m for two days in a row, says the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board, which controls a huge dam downstream.

WRVO's Payne Horning

As water levels on Lake Ontario continue to rise, state lawmakers are working on financial assistance to homeowners still assessing flood damage.

No, according to Frank Sciremammano.

Sciremammano isn't an apologist for the new plan that regulates lake levels. He acknowledges that it could contribute to problems in the future. But he attributes this spring's flooding to record rainfall -- and some moves made this winter to manage ice.

Updated Wednesday, May 17, at 3 p.m. 

Finally, some good news for towns that been flooded for weeks by high waters in Lake Ontario.

The lake-wide average water level has remained at 75.85 m for two days in a row, says the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board, which controls a huge dam downstream.

Here's the bi-national board's assessment: "Does this mean we've reached its peak? Likely not, but we appear to be close now. If no significant rainfall is received, it now appears that it may rise perhaps another centimetre or two, but should then start to soon decline slowly."

The board cautioned that lake levels will remain high for weeks: "It's very important to note that another big rainfall could bring an even higher peak in days or even weeks to come. But the good news is that it appears to be close to its initial peak."

So far, the weather is cooperating. The region may see some thunderstorms Wednesday and Sunday,  the National Weather Service says. But there's no sign of the heavy, extended rains that swelled the lake in April and early May.

As the region continues to deal with flooding, one community on the lake's southern shore is calling for legal action.

Officials in hard-hit Sodus Point want to halt a new bi-national lake management plan, saying it has harmed residents and businesses, the Finger Lakes Times reported.

Monday night, the village board asked Wayne County to seek an injunction against Plan 2014, which many residents and officials blame for the flooding. A board resolution called for “an injunction against the continued implementation of Plan 2014” and that the International Joint Commission revert to the previous lake management plan.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the flooding has been caused by heavy spring rains. The IJC, a bi-national organization, says the plan that took effect in January may have added only an inch or two to the lake level. 

Tuesday, May 16

A huge hydroelectric dam that regulates the level of Lake Ontario continues to increase outflows.

But officials don't expect the lake to drop below flood levels for some time.

Flooding continues for a second week along Lake Ontario and there’s no end in sight. Many residents and New York’s governor say the solution lies with a huge dam that straddles the U.S- Canada border. But the reality is not so simple.


Veronica Volk

Along Lake Ontario, communities are still battling flood waters.

A big dam nearby has started letting more water out of the lake and into the lower St. Lawrence River. But that doesn't mean lakefront property owners will see immediate results.
 


Before water contamination emergencies hit Flint, Mich., a crisis in Canada became deadly.

When E. coli invaded the drinking water in Walkerton, half of the town became ill and seven people died. That led to a turnaround in the way the community treats its water and trains workers. 

But a question lingers: Does Walkerton’s tragedy still resonate in the U.S.?


Due to heavy rains, Lake Ontario is overflowing its banks. Some New Yorkers want to lower the lake level by releasing water from a dam downstream.

But the International Joint Commission, which controls the dam, says that will bring more flooding to Montreal.


Concerns are growing that the historic structures at Old Fort Niagara could be at risk of damage from Lake Ontario's flood waters. The fort is located in New York at the mouth of the Niagara River, where it meets the lake.


As heavy rains continued along the southern shore of Lake Ontario, residents and government officials are growing concerned about waves that are eroding lakefront properties. They're also worried about damage to local utilities.

President Trump's budget priorities have put funding for the Great Lakes in danger.

His 2018 budget outline eliminated $300 million in annual funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which has backed hundreds of projects on pollution, invasive species and other topics. For a while, it looked like he might also grab $50 million in initiative funds in the current budget.

But at least the $50 million is safe.


Lake Ontario is 20 inches higher than normal, and New York towns along the south shore are filling sandbags and making other flood preparations.

In Port Bay, the high water has already damaged the town’s protective barrier beach. Now, residents are scrambling for ways to hold back the lake’s waters.


Environmental groups have filed a federal lawsuit, accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of violating the Clean Water Act.

The lawsuit involves a dispute over whether western Lake Erie should be classified as an impaired waterway. 

It’s important to know that the food you’re eating  is safe—especially when it comes to fish caught in polluted waters.


Alex Crichton

Lake Ontario is nearly a foot and a half higher than is usual for this time of year, and New Yorkers living on the south shore are anxiously watching the water continue to rise.

Near Rochester, the village of Sodus Point is providing sandbags to homeowners.

Rising levels on Lake Ontario have prompted officials in counties near Buffalo and Rochester to declare a state of emergency.

Officials said they expect higher than normal water levels over the next few days and into the weekend -- with a possibility of flooding.

In a conference call Thursday afternoon, the Great Lakes Compact Council upheld its decision allowing Waukesha, ​Wisc., to draw water from Lake Michigan.

Representatives for all eight Great Lakes states voted to deny a challenge brought by local officials across the region.

Great Lakes town raises money online to save harbor

Apr 20, 2017

Leland Harbormaster Russell Dzuba is walking down a metal gangway to get a look at the harbor in this northern Michigan town.

Normally, there would be some activity this time of year – but the harbor is empty.

“We’re looking at water that’s about six inches deep right over there,” he says.


Talk of a fictional pipeline that could carry Great Lakes water to the Southwest caused a recent uproar from folks around the lakes. But the NASA scientist who mentioned the idea says Phoenix and other desert cities aren’t coming for the Great Lakes’ water any time soon.

Great Lakes beaches have always been popular for tourists. But in the 1970s and 80s, they were also prime real estate for nuclear power plants because there was lots of water to cool the reactors.

Now there are nine nuclear plants on the U.S. side of the lakes -- but cheaper energy sources are forcing some to shut down. And in one Michigan town, residents are divided about a shutdown.


States surrounding the Great Lakes have a recurring nightmare about proposals to siphon off water for parched areas in U.S. or other countries.

So they might be staggered by suggestions from NASA scientist Jay Famiglietti, who said a water pipeline from the lakes to cities like Phoenix was "part of our future.”  

Pollution and other problems plague areas all over the Great Lakes region. And they can make drinking or swimming dangerous.  There’s plenty of blame to go around for this – city water utilities, agriculture, and politicians to name a few.

Now an unlikely industry has joined the search for solutions -- technology is taking on Lake Erie.

  

On a tiny beach at Erie Basin Marina in Buffalo, N.Y., Nate Drag scans the sand and driftwood. He's part of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, and he helps organize beach clean ups.
 "The closer you look, you can start seeing the plastic popping out," he says.
 


Lots of people were already upset about President Trump’s plan to slash Great Lakes funding in next year’s federal budget.  Now he’s recommending a $50 million cut to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for this year.  


The International Joint Commission, the bi-national group that helps to oversee the Great Lakes, held two public meetings in Buffalo on Tuesday – and more than 200 people showed up to share their concerns.


U.S. and Canadian commissioners representing the Great Lakes met in Buffalo, N.Y., Tuesday to hear from environmental groups and the public on the region’s progress.

The International Joint Commission's U.S. Chair, Lana Pollack, opened with a message: “What we’re here today to do is to hear from some experts, hear from the public, and thereby advise the governments in both countries as well as local jurisdictions on how lakes can best be protected."

On Tuesday, the International Joint Commission, a group that helps regulate the Great Lakes, is coming to Buffalo to listen to your concerns -- and discuss issues that are important to the Buffalo region.


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Dan Egan has covered Great Lakes issues for 15 years.  This month, he released his first bookThe Death and Life of the Great Lakes, an in-depth biography of the lakes – from the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway to the current issues with harmful algae blooms and invasive species.


A new report sums up the crazy winter that brought unusually warm temperatures to the Great Lakes region -- as well as some brutal Lake Effect snowstorms.

Toronto recorded its highest February temperature -- 66 degrees -- on Feb. 23, according to the Midwestern Regional Climate Center. The following day, more records were set in Syracuse (71), Binghamton, N.Y. (70), and Erie, Pa., (77).

Great Lakes Today will host a Facebook Live event for the International Joint Commission's Buffalo public meeting on the health of the lakes.

Two sessions will take place March 28, and both will be streamed live on Facebook.

Pages