great lakes

Along Lake Ontario shoreline, high water and damage persist

Dec 4, 2017

As winter nears, Lake Ontario is still much higher than normal. And residents are shoring up walls of sandbags for protection against high waves.

ELIZABETH MILLER/IDEASTREAM

GREAT LAKES TODAY - A new report from the International Joint Commission, a bi-national agency, says the Great Lakes restoration continues to progress -- but not quickly enough. 

The commission makes several recommendations to the U.S. and Canada, in its review of a 2012 water quality agreement.

At the Novelis Aluminum plant in Oswego County, metal is processed for automotive companies like Ford, Toyota and General Motors. Novelis uses a lot of recycled metal, but most of its primary aluminum comes from Canada. 

Beth Adams, WXXI News

ROCHESTER (WXXI) - Monroe County's eligibility for federal assistance for flood damage is under review, according to a FEMA spokesman. 

When President Trump issued a major disaster declaration for six New York counties Tuesday, Monroe was not among them, even though local communities along the shore of Lake Ontario were among the hardest hit by flooding this spring and summer.

The federal government is now offering funding and resources to upstate counties devastated by the flooding along Lake Ontario this year, after President Trump declared parts of the region a federal disaster area earlier this week.

New Website Tracks Progress On Great Lakes

Nov 11, 2017

GREAT LAKE TODAY - Over the years, billions of dollars have been allocated to restoring the Great Lakes – whether its money spent cleaning up pollution, preventing invasive species, or educating the public.  A new regional initiative will analyze how effective some of these efforts – and dollars – have been so far. 

ericaeverhart / Flickr

GREAT LAKES TODAY - What does a dairy cow have to do with keeping the environment healthy? At the recent Great Lakes Restoration Conference in Buffalo people were invited to witness that connection first hand -- and how it played into one farmer’s economic survival. 

John Kramer can trace the history of his family’s farm back to the 1800s. Despite that long history, a few years ago, like a lot of other farmers, he suffered a setback.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

ROCHESTER (WXXI) - Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling for a special session of the NYS legislature, partly to ask lawmakers to approve more money for people impacted by spring flooding.

Cuomo notes that back in July, the state passed a $45 million financial assistance package for homeowners, businesses, and local governments following the lakeshore flooding along Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence Seaway.

At a special state hearing in Oswego County Tuesday, government officials admitted that there's effectively no way to prevent Lake Ontario from once again reaching the record high levels seen this year. In fact, they said it's bound to happen again. But, they think there may be ways to reduce the amount of damage the flooding caused along the shoreline.

Disabilities No Longer A Barrier To Great Lakes

Oct 7, 2017
Veronica Volk, Great Lakes Today

GREAT LAKES TODAY - Julie Cataldo is strapped into a harness as she sits in her wheelchair just a few feet from the edge of the Erie Canal. A hydraulic lift hoists her from the chair and swings her out over the water.

The lift lowers her into a kayak, and its operator adjusts her seat.

This is Cataldo’s second time in a single kayak, and in a few minutes, she’s cruising alone down the Canal near Rochester, N.Y.

Environmental Groups Slow To Seek Out Minorities

Sep 25, 2017
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Part 1 of a series

GREAT LAKES TODAY - The environmental movement started more than a century ago.  Theodore Roosevelt was known as the conservation president, and there’s a famous 1903 photo of him with the Sierra Club’s founder. 

Payne Horning, Great Lake Today

(GREAT LAKES TODAY) - Hurricanes in the southern U.S. have captured the nation's attention -- and federal aid. That's a concern in New York, where lawmakers are still seeking federal funds to help residents and businesses after months of flooding along Lake Ontario. 

Veronica Volk, Great Lakes Today

GREAT LAKES TODAY - Last year, 72 dams across the US were demolished; hundreds more were removed in the past ten. Most dam removals are part of an effort to restore rivers and the animals that live there. 

Chris Caya, WBFO

BUFFALO (WBFO) - The Niagara Falls Sewage Treatment plant is under a microscope once again. State regulators are investigating a second discharge from the plant into the lower Niagara River.  

Veronica Volk, Great Lakes Today

(GREAT LAKES TODAY) - This spring's heavy rain in the Lake Ontario region had quite an impact on homeowners, but it also affected the water offshore. The rainfall overwhelmed sewage systems in cities around the lake, and pushed tens of millions of gallons of raw sewage into the water. 

Did Great Lakes Just Get Another Invasive Species?

Aug 15, 2017
EPA

(GREAT LAKES TODAY) - A new non-native species has been found in western Lake Erie, the EPA said Monday. It's named Brachionus leydigii. And it's a type of zooplankton, which means it could be food for lots of fish. But the EPA isn't sure whether little ol' B.l. will be harmful -- or helpful -- to the Great Lakes. The agency says there isn't enough scientific evidence to know yet. 

The decision to lower outflows from Lake Ontario is being criticized by shoreline residents who are suffering from flooding, but some are defending the move, saying safety of those on the St. Lawrence Seaway was on the line.

The International Joint Commission (IJC) reduced discharges from Lake Ontario by only 4 percent last week. Still, that was enough to make a major difference according to those on both sides of the Moses-Saunders Dam.

Researchers are trying to document the summer of high water on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. They're asking shoreline residents and local officials to fill out an online survey.

This year's flooding along Lake Ontario has taken a toll on municipalities, exhausting their resources and threatening their infrastructure. That's the case in Oswego where the city recently took an inventory of the destruction caused by the unprecedented water levels.

Beth Adams, WXXI News

ROCHESTER (WXXI) - Lake Ontario's water level is down a foot from its peak in late May, but still more than 2 feet above normal for this time of year. The U.S.-Canadian government body that regulates the lake levels says it will start to gradually reduce the outflow of water from the lake to the St. Lawrence River.  

The government body that regulates water levels on Lake Ontario is reducing the outflows to the St. Lawrence River. The International Joint Commission (IJC) says water levels have dropped rapidly, down 12 inches since the peak in late May. That's drawing some criticism from shoreline residents who say the move is premature.

In a long-awaited report, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says new measures are needed to prevent Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes.

The report says the current defense at the Brandon Road lock in Illinois – an underwater electric barrier – should be beefed up. The Army Corps' recommended plan would add water jets and complex noises – like the underwater recordings of a boat motor.

On Monday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is releasing a study detailing the best ways to prevent Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes.

A document outlining the study says the current defense – an underwater electric barrier – should be beefed up. The recommended plan would add complex noises – like the underwater recordings of a boat motor.

BUFFALO (WBFO) - It is now an international incident - and soon to be a possible criminal investigation. Canada and the Niagara County Legislature are calling for further investigation into the sewage dumped into the Niagara River over the weekend.  

Niagara Falls Blob Violated State Regulations

Aug 3, 2017
Twitter/@MaidOfTheMist

GREAT LAKES TODAY - The recent black, odorous wastewater discharge near the base of Niagara Falls violated New York regulations, a state official says. But it's unclear whether any fines will result. 

The first woman to lead the Coast Guard district that covers the Great Lakes is retiring Wednesday.

In the two years Rear Adm. June Ryan has been commander of the 9th District, the winters have been mild. And there hasn’t really been a need for much ice-breaking – what she calls the Coast Guard Great Lakes' greatest challenge.

But she says there’s another challenge – one she’ll continue to fight for, even after she retires. It comes with increased recreational boating on the Great Lakes, especially people using kayaks and canoes.

For a lot of people and business around Lake Ontario, flooding put summer on hold. Now that the water is going down, businesses are coming back, including an amusement park on one of Toronto's harbor islands.

For months, the closure of the Toronto Islands has put their main attraction -- the Centreville Amusement Park -- on hiatus. Now, after 80 days, the islands are open to the public again.

Shawnda Walker is the director of marketing for the park. She says they've been preparing for this day for a long time.

Payne Horning, WRVO

SYRACUSE (WRVO) - State lawmakers say help is finally here for the property owners who have experienced damage from flooding along Lake Ontario this year. Community leaders are organizing residents as the state prepares to distribute the recovery funding.  

BEN THORP

(GREAT LAKES TODAY) - Despite a White House proposal to eliminate $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the House Appropriations Committee voted late Tuesday to fully fund the program through September 2018. 

Payne Horning, WRVO

SYRACUSE (WRVO) - As high water levels start to recede along the southern shore of Lake Ontario, the question remains: could something have been done to stop flooding that has devastated much of the shoreline? 

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