WXXI AM News

Great Lakes Today

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Nearly $3 million in additional relief funding is going to communities in five upstate New York counties along Lake Ontario to help them recover from last year's flooding.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that the state had awarded $2.9 million in flood relief funds to local governments in Wayne, Orleans, Niagara, Cayuga and Jefferson counties.

Cuomo says the funding will be used for ongoing restoration and recovery efforts and to protect communities from future storms.

Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

As the invasive species the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid continues to spread across New York, our neighbors to the North are trying to get ahead of the problem.

A coach bus brought a group of landowners and resource managers from Ontario to Durand Eastman Park in Rochester, to learn more about the spread and management of the insect.

The small bug poses a huge risk to Hemlock trees in New York, and has been spotted in Nova Scotia and the Ontario side of the Niagara River.

Tianna Manon/WXXI News

While many in Monroe County are hoping for warm spring-like weather soon, county officials are preparing for rain and flooding. County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo met with several local agencies on Thursday to discuss flooding preparedness and Lake Ontario's high lake levels. 

She says they have more than 40,000 sandbags stockpiled and are working out how to utilize aqua dams, giant refillable tubes that block water when laid down.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

Governor Andrew Cuomo is asking the International Joint Commission to maximize outflows of water from Lake Ontario.

He sent a letter to the U.S. Chair of the IJC  in advance of the commission’s scheduled decrease in outflows, which happened on Thursday.

Cuomo said that, "After the disastrous flooding situations on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River last year, it is critical that we remain vigilant and take whatever measures are necessary for ensuring that history does not repeat itself."

Key federal funding for the Great Lakes has survived again thanks to Congress.

This is the second time President Trump proposed a big cut to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. And Congress restored it full: $300 million for the 2019 budget year. 

Water is being let out of Lake Ontario at record rates, but it’s doing little to relieve high water on the south shore, in New York. Last year, flooding caused millions of dollars in damage to residences and businesses, and in some areas drove people from their homes for months.

One neighborhood in Hamlin, New York, was hit particularly hard. Now, residents there say they fear another harsh flood season.

Many advocates for the Great Lakes are in Washington, D.C., this week to push back against President Trump's proposal to slash funding for the region. They want Congress to continue its bipartisan support on issues such as cleaning up pollution and protecting drinking water.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

Monroe County is receiving some state funding to help with problems caused by flooding along the Lake Ontario shoreline.

County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo says the county will get $1.5 million from the NYS Office of Community Renewal, and the money will support several restoration and mitigation projects along the lakefront.

About $1 million will be used to restore infrastructure damaged by last year’s flooding, while the rest will be used to find projects to help prevent further damage in the event of future flooding.

Veronica Volk / Great Lakes Today

In the Great Lakes region, toxic algae blooms are a big problem. Every summer, they leave a green sheen on parts of the Great Lakes – and on many smaller lakes. New York State has a new campaign to find solutions. But some question the approach.

In his lab at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, Greg Boyer stands beside his mass spectrometer. This machine is analyzing the chemical makeup of algae samples, specifically, those that produce deadly toxins.

For Christians, the weeks leading up to Easter are a time of sacrifice. And many observe by giving up chocolate, alcohol or other treats.

But the Anglican Church has another suggestion this year. It's urging members to take the Lent Plastics Challenge and reduce their use of straws, cups, bottles and many other plastic products.

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