Great Lakes

The Lake Guardian that was docked at the Port of Rochester for little more than a day set sail Tuesday without fanfare. It’s a working ship, after all, not a showpiece, despite attracting much attention from passers-by.

Operated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the 180-foot Lake Guardian is the largest research vessel on the Great Lakes.

When the ice melts each spring, the ship visits each of the five lakes to measure basic water quality and sample the “lower food web” -- the tiny animals, plants, and algae that support fish and other aquatic life.

David Sommerstein / NCPR

Lake Ontario is eight inches lower than average for this time of year. That’s the lowest it’s been in early April since 2015 and a hopeful sign the chance of flooding on the lake and St. Lawrence River is relatively low this summer.

Nick Lippa / WBFO

Lake Ontario’s water levels are nearly 2' lower than they were this time last year. It has Great Lakes officials optimistic shoreline communities will avoid any major flood damage this year. As WBFO’s Nick Lippa reports, state-funded construction projects along Lake Ontario this summer aim to address long-term flooding concerns.

  

When Aurelien Bouche Pillon stands on the shore at Sea Breeze Pier, he is constantly scanning the water.

Pillon is checking to see if the conditions are right for surfing. Even in the dead of winter, he can sometimes be spotted just off shore, surfing Lake Ontario.

“You have to do the best with where you live,” said Pillon.

Great Lakes Today / Facebook

Have you ever looked out across Lake Erie or Lake Ontario and wondered what’s going on in that water? The Great Lakes have changed drastically over the last few centuries and there is increasing scientific interest to figure out why.

President signs Great Lakes mapping bill into law

Jan 5, 2021
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

President Donald Trump has signed legislation to update maps of environmentally sensitive areas of the Great Lakes.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Lake Ontario is hovering at its long-term average and 2' below where it was at this time last year, but it's not the same elsewhere in the Great Lakes. Some of the lakes are two or more feet above their long-term averages, presenting a risk of flooding in Lake Ontario next spring. And with a La Nina weather pattern this winter that could lead to an increase in precipitation, the international body that helps regulate water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River has decided it needs to take precautionary measures.

WBFO file photo

Two years in the making,  National Geographic's December cover story "North Anerica's most valuable resouce at risk" takes a closer look at the threats to the Great Lakes. Author Tim Folger spoke with WBFO about his work in highlighting the problems and some of the long-term solutions.


Payne Horning / WRVO News

The international commission that manages water levels on the Great Lakes is shrinking. It is also establishing an advisory group to broaden input from the public.

Port of Oswego

New data shows that shipping on the Great Lakes has taken a hit this year due to the pandemic.

Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Lake Ontario is around 2' lower than last year at this time, a relief for those who live on the periphery. With summer nearing an end, the International Joint Commission, which manages lake outflows, will allow Lake St. Lawrence levels to decline to the normal navigation season minimum following the September long weekend. This decision will allow for slightly more water to be released from Lake Ontario during the fall.

WBFO's Mike Desmond spoke with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District Public Affairs Chief Andrew Kornacki about the plans.


GAO

A report from the Government Accounting Office says that the agency that helps regulate water levels on Lake Ontario needs to do a better job communicating with the public.

Chris Caya / WBFO News

There may be cash - lots and lots of cash - for major infrastructure projects around Western New York as part of a $1.5 trillion federal legislative package that might pass as early as late summer. That is from Rep. Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo), who said the White House has been involved in talks about the bill slated to be introduced within days.


Great Lakes Today / WBFO News

Regulators in the United States have launched a formal investigation into Canada's plan to change the rules that govern shipping on the Great Lakes.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The International Joint Commission has appointed a 16-member public advisory group to help identify potential improvements to the regulation of Lake Ontario outflows into the St. Lawrence River.

RH Saunders Generating Station

Water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River are expected to peak well below the record high levels reached in 2017 and 2019.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The international agency that regulates water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River could find itself the target of lawsuits if some upstate New York congressional representatives have their way.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The recently released "count the cost" survey of 379 households in New York found that the average loss per home from the flooding along Lake Ontario's shoreline in 2017 and 2019 is $95,000. And the authors of the survey say it's not just those at the top who are suffering. Half of the households who participated in the survey earn less than $125,000 and 70% of those who responded say they do not have the resources to protect against another year of flooding.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The U.S. and Canadian governments plan to undertake a study to assess Plan 2014, the water management plan used to help regulate the water levels in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

Daniel Robison / WBFO News

A wide-ranging clean-up of the Great Lakes would receive a major funding boost under the spending bill approved by the House of Representatives Tuesday.

Kyle S. Mackie/WBFO News

In the final push of a two-year-long fundraising campaign, the Western New York Land Conservancy faces a Dec. 31 deadline to raise $138,000 in order to purchase and preserve a private tract of land near East Aurora called Mossy Point.


NYS expands lawsuit over Lake Ontario flooding

Nov 17, 2019
Veronica Volk / WXXI News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York State Attorney General Letitia James have announced an expanded lawsuit against the International Joint Commission, for “failing to implement its flood protocol for the Moses-Saunders Power Dam.” That is the dam that can be used to help regulate the level of water in Lake Ontario.

Great Lakes Fishery Commission

Officials say populations of fish-killing sea lamprey remain at near-historic lows in Lakes Ontario and Michigan, but are above target levels in Lakes Erie, Huron and Superior.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

The amount of water that officials on the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board are releasing from Lake Ontario into the St. Lawrence River continues to be above the usual outflows for this time of year. That is due to the fact that lake levels are still over the so-called trigger levels in the government's water management, called Plan 2014. When those levels are exceeded, the Board can deviate from the Plan, allowing for more water to be pushed into the river.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

The international board that helps manage water levels on the Great Lakes announced it is reducing outflows. This means the International Joint Commission's International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board will be letting less water from Lake Ontario through the Moses-Saunders Power Dam into the upper St. Lawrence River.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

Lake Ontario is on the decline, but that doesn’t mean the worst is over. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it doesn't expect the water in the Great Lakes to go down too much, too soon.

File Photo / WBFO News

There is no plan for wind generators off-shore from southern Erie County, but opponents are organizing just in case. A firm called Diamond Wind is expected to file for at least 50 generators in the lake next month, when as a window for wind farm applications opens.

Buffalo Riverkeeper

A new report says cleaning up some of the most heavily polluted areas in the Great Lakes region has led to billions of dollars' worth of economic development.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

An Ontario climate expert is joining those who say climate change is one of the main reasons behind record water levels in the Great Lakes. The opinion runs contrary to those which have placed the blame on the work of an international commission.


IJC to add new members to lake management board

Jul 18, 2019
Veronica Volk / WXXI News

Since the flooding of 2017, the International Joint Commission has been criticized for mismanagement of Lake Ontario. Now, in response to some of those criticisms, the IJC is adding two new seats to the board that regulates the outflows of Lake Ontario.

Pages