Lake Ontario

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.

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.

Kellie Thomas / FEMA

Monroe County, along with Cayuga County, has been added to the Lake Ontario Disaster Declaration by FEMA. The amendment to the declaration will allow Monroe County to receive Public Assistance Grant Funding for repairs from the Lake Ontario Flooding that occurred over the summer.

The original disaster declaration didn’t include Monroe County; Governor Andrew Cuomo appealed the decision, ultimately leading to FEMA adding Monroe and Cayuga Counties.

It may seem unusual to have conversations about preserving our water bodies after major weather events like hurricanes or the flooding on the Lake Ontario shoreline, but excessive runoff is a major source of pollution. It’s a problem in our area — one that the H2O Hero initiative hopes to combat.

The program is celebrating its tenth anniversary, and this hour, we talk to the team behind it about its progress. Have the goals changed as a result of weather events? How do we prepare for future issues? And what can we do, on an individual level, to protect Lake Ontario and the Genesee River? Our guests help us understand the science and the mission. In studio:

  • Todd Butler, president and CEO of Causewave Community Partners
  • Dan Menelly, president and chief science officer for the Rochester Museum and Science Center
  • Paul Sawkyo, coordinator for the Water Education Collaborative (WEC)

  • Caroline Kilmer, WBE-certified stormwater consultant, and chair of the Water Education Collaborative (WEC)

Historically high water levels are still afflicting the shores of Lake Ontario. And change likely won’t come until early June - that’s when lake levels are expected to crest. The flooding has affected hundreds of properties since March. Veronica Volk is the Great Lakes Today reporter and producer for WXXI News. She has been tracking this story for the past two months and she joins this edition of Need to Know to explain what’s going on and what’s to come.

What's causing the rising lake levels? How much of the criticism is political; how much is fair? We look at Plan 2014, and we explore what's really going on. Our guests:

  • Veronica Volk, reporter and producer for Great Lakes Today
  • Dr. Karen Berger, lecturer in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Rochester
  • Dr. Frank Sciremammano Jr., member of the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board
  • Frank Bevacqua, public information officer for the International Joint Commission

Veronica Volk / WXXI

Restoration of Braddock Bay is still underway, but officials and developers are already looking forward to the construction of a new marina.

The Braddock Bay Restoration project is broken down into three phases. Phase one was completed in March, with over 300 acres of wetlands restored. Currently, the project is in its second phase, with ongoing construction to dredge the boating channel and build a barrier beach.

The College at Brockport

The College at Brockport is getting a grant to study the diet of salmon, trout, and other Great Lakes fish in hopes of identifing the source of a vitamin deficiency that causes early mortality syndrome.

Jacques Rinchard is an associate professor at the College of Brockport. He says certain fish are suffering from low levels of thiamine, or vitamin B1, in their diet.

"They can have wiggling or uncoordinated behavior and it could lead to the death of the adult."

It can also prevent fish eggs from hatching.

A schooner that sank off the shores of New York in Lake Ontario almost a century and a half ago has been discovered.

Steelhead fishing

ALBANY (AP) New York and federal conservation officials plan to brief the public about Lake Ontario and the state of its fisheries in a series of upcoming meetings in Niagara, Monroe and Oswego counties.

The lake, its bays and tributaries support populations of trout, salmon, bass, walleye, yellow perch and panfish, among others.

The Department of Environmental Conservation says they are thriving.

A survey estimated more than 2.6 million individual fishing days were spent on those waters in 2007.

The lake covers more than 2.7 million acres of New York.