Water Quality Updates: Summer 2022

New York State Fishing Access Site’s new floating dock system at Port Bay South, June 2022

Water Quality continues to be a concern due to changing weather, and temperatures, through watershed management. Throughout the summer of 2022 until Columbus Day, District staff will be reviewing water quality and positing updates if there are specific concerns on the waterfronts and how to manage them throughout Wayne County.  Watersheds are the entire area that supplies water to a waterbody. This can potentially make up 1000s of acres of land with various topography, and use.  Water quality update reports will include descriptions based on weather patterns, temperature, what you are seeing in the water, invasive species and local water quality projects.

The District monitors water quality across Wayne County throughout the year and tried to address targeted issues that have been brought up by the communities. One of the positives from the COVID response was the District’s Landowner Assistance Program (LAP forms) and Municipal Assistance Program (MAP forms) that are available online to help target and narrow down issues. This form is fillable and allows the landowner or municipal leader to upload a request and photos in real time from our Website.

This report allows us to see where review is needed. The LAP/MAP program is for technical review by trained technicians. It is not a grant program.  The District staff will review the site through technical maps, permitting needs and water quality considerations and then will follow up with the requestor by email or by phone depending on the initial review findings. On a rare case, there may be a request for an on-site visit. This process may take 2-3 weeks depending on the amount of requests that come in at once.

The District’s Technical Staff is made up of 5 people that have made community water quality their professional career. They focus on the “bigger picture” of watershed management while working to address the water quality impacts of the local community.


Aquatic Vegetation Control aka Weed harvesting Summer 2022

Aquatic Vegetation Control (AVC) is a form of nutrient management that is one of several management techniques used to manage non-point source water pollution that is natural but also impacts a balanced ecosystem for water quality. Selective harvesting invasive species and some high concentrations of water weeds verses letting them die off and fertilize seedbeds within a waterbody does three things for the environment:

      1. Removes nutrients from waterbody in specific areas to prevent high growth of stronger weeds;
  1. Reduces the potential for continuous spread of some highly invasive aquatic weeds like Water Chestnut;
  2. Increases flow from the outlets of streams into the waterbody to allow for regular movement of water thus preventing algal blooms.

There are other benefits to this management technique which include pathways for boaters to navigate into open waters, pathways for fisherman to access weed-beds for better fishing and better ascetics for the community. The District’s Aquatic Vegetation Control program subcontracted by Wayne County, began on June 13th and will provide 1 service to specific areas in 2022 through September 9th. The tentative schedule has been posted but is subject to change based on technical review weekly by the staff for addressing water quality impairments. Further schedule updates can be found on the District’s website.

For additional information on Invasive Species Management and the Aquatic Vegetation Control program please go to visit the AVC Program Webpage

Water Quality Update: 8/4/2022 Lake Ontario & Seasonal Change

The Water Quality remains pretty stable across the County with variable storm events that help to create more “flow” in the system which causes water movement and introduces more oxygen thus helping keep balance in the system with weed growth, fish & wildlife heartiness and algal blooms.   As far as water levels go, Lake Ontario predictions are pretty close to date. Upland streams and tributaries need to remain clear. If there are log jams that completely cross a stream system this can cause other flooding problems during storm events. Try and work out how to remove it by lopping it up or sliding it over to the bank.  However, some limbs or tree top branches in the stream create habitat for wildlife, help keep streams cooler and do help in some instances with bank stabilization and erosion.

Need technical assistance? Visit https://waynecountynysoilandwater.org/request-assistance/

Have a question specific question? Email Lindsey@WayneNYswcd.org or Maxine@WayneNYswcd.org


Water Quality Awareness Week of 9-16-2021

Unfortunately with stronger storm events from the northeast and then rotational North West winds are causing much of the breakoff in all of the waterways in Wayne County. This includes the bays, the canal system, tributaries, and their outlets.  In this week’s water quality review, you can definitely see a change in the water quality including observations like striation of the water columns, increased breakoff, and collection around infrastructure and in cove areas.  While the sediment is being pushed around by the wind, the deeper area is still seeing some algae growth. The potential for blooms is lower due to the cooler temperatures and the increased movement of waves.

It was also noted as more shoreline starts to show, stormwater runoff and collection is being affected because the balance of the below-ground aquifers have changed. This allows a variation in pressure in the watershed. This is what is referred to as a change in Hydrology.  Due to hydrology variances, there is a potential to see water where it hasn’t been seen before.  Along with seeing wildlife, fish, and birds in other places in the waterways where they haven’t been before.

Lake Ontario water levels have been fairly stable for the last week about 245.3- 245.4 depending on seiche events due to weather. ( see weekly summary)

NYS REDI Initiative dredging was finishing up in Pultneyville Harbor and Bear Creek Harbor this week.

Floating Duckweed & Water Levels Highlight this Week Water Awareness 9-9-2021

Water levels are beginning to taper off with an average at 245.35 at local south shore Lake Ontario stations this week and will be losing a few more inches of water on Lake Ontario in the next few weeks according to US Army Corps of Engineer projections. Click here for USACE Forecast

Local water levels on bays will continue to be low and will increase and decrease from upland watershed flows and wind events which will last up to 36 hours before calming.  Monitor boat slips, and other watercraft regularly.   Wind events in the last two weeks have been the culprit for surface weed exposure, creating floating bogs and break off.

Floating Duckweed can help alert boaters to areas of weed concentration as the Duckweed collects at the surface. Shown in the photos below.  This time of year, weed populations are dying off due to the cooler temperatures and the increased disturbance from wind/rain events. (click on images for larger view)

The SWCD Weed harvesting program continues to address weed mats and floating areas.  This year’s focus has been on flow and circulation as many of the areas are too shallow to adequately access fully loaded.  The last week, the Crew has focused on South of Port Bay area, closest to Wolcott Creek Inlet to open up water flow for the fall and winter season.  The crew is going to make its way north and clear out the cove areas on Port Bay after surface control of breakoff mats from this last week’s storms and back to Sodus Bay to address areas where collection mats have floated into tributary outlets and coves.

Water Quality Awareness 8-9-2021 to 8-13-2021

Water Quality Observations and Updates 08-09 to 08-13

All the County’s embayments are looking turbid and have varying tints of green due to planktonic algae growth. Some areas of each waterbody may have more than others depending on wind intensity and direction. Each rainstorm we have brings nutrients, whether caused by humans, animals, or plants, to the aquatic vegetation of the bays. An interesting observation was witnessed involving the aquatic food chain.

East Bay surface algae due to lack of circulation and flow.

The wind had blown algae towards the channel of Lake Ontario and Port Bay. You could see young-of-the-year fish swimming through the algae and making short, quick movements in different directions as if feeding on something. Hint: They’re feeding on zooplankton (tiny aquatic “bugs”). Then, you could see slightly larger fish breaking the surface and smaller fish fleeing by skipping across the water. This was the aquatic food chain happening right before your eyes. Wind-concentrated algae was being grazed by zooplankton. The zooplankton was being preyed upon juvenile fish, and consequentially, the small fish were the quarry of other larger piscivorous fish. Perhaps there was a few bass or pike in the area that were stalking their next meal. Just up the channel was a Great Blue Heron slowly wading and waiting for its turn.

Good news for the AVC Program: The trailer has been repaired and we are now able to transport to the other Bays. As of mid-week, the harvesters will be on East Bay and once complete there, they will proceed to Port Bay. Water levels and some logistics are still making launching the harvesters and unloading material an interesting event. We are doing the best possible work we can do with the circumstances we have encountered.

Coon Tail

East Bay has a very dense concentration of Coontail (Cerstophyllum demersum) in the middle of the bay that has grown right to the surface. Coontail is a native, dark green, submerged perennial aquatic plant that lacks true roots. It is loosely anchored to the bottom by specialized stems (rhizoids). Because of this, Coontail absorbs nutrients directly from the water.


Water Awareness for 7-15-2021

Conditions Report from waterfronts of Lake Ontario

Shoreline Algae Development Sodus Bay

Weed breakdown releases phosphorus into waterbody which causes Algae blooms along shallow waters of Sodus Bay.

With spotty storm events throughout the week and an increase of about 2 inches on Lake Ontario, there was a significant amount of water running through the watershed.  Observations below certainly correspond with these weather events and will help with the life cycle of many of the plants and animals in these waterbodies (including humans for recreation and tourism).

– Water turbidity is somewhat strained/green with planktonic algae and suspended particles. This is most likely due to recent rainfall events and upland inputs from the watershed.

What is Planktonic Algae:

– The dominant aquatic plant where we are harvesting is Elodea or Common Waterweed. The dense growth of elodea can interfere with boating and fishing. Coontail and Milfoil are also present. We observed eelgrass in shallow areas.

For more detail on specific plants please review the Submersed Aquatic Vegetation Guide: and Field Guide to Aquatic Plants in NYS

– Detached plant material floating appeared to be fine-stemmed pondweed species and eelgrass. Some of the free-floating plants had roots still intact, suggesting that they are being dislodged by wave/wake action. Watercraft docked for extended periods of time start to collect these floating plants. It’s best to remove these masses as they store heat, deplete dissolved oxygen in the water, and incubate bacteria.

“How do you eat an elephant?”………………………………….One bite at a time…..

By slowly removing plant masses and dispersing them to dry versus immediately piling them, they dry down in less than a day with current daytime heat and are more manageable to rake, compost, or bag and dispose.Composting Techniques: (opens in new tab) http://ccewayne.org/gardening-home-grounds/compost-resources 

-With increased rainfall events, be conscious of where you dispose of yard debris and grass clippings. Keep these out of and away from stormwater drains and roadside drainage ways. This adds excessive nutrients to the received waterbody.

Water awareness for Independence Day weekend in Wayne County

Blessings come in small packages as varying temperatures approach for a break in the heat this holiday weekend. It is important to the water quality to have these periodic weather changes to keep balance within the living embayments, streams, creeks and rivers. While we all love warmer temperatures for recreation but this “break” will provide some relief for a potential full Bay turn in the middle of holiday weekend.

Current conditions on all 6 embayments in Wayne County are ecologically ahead of schedule; about 3 weeks across the County. What does that mean? It means that each season the changes seen in the water vary as the season progresses. It includes different types of water (i.e. wave conditions, turbidity, temperature), weed types and growth patterns, fish frequenters (regular species and lake species that come into feed) and other creatures of the waterfront.  Already this year due to the low Lake Ontario levels at 245.16 average on the southern shore today (can be viewed https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/map/) each inland embayment is seeing shoreline changing due to increasing low water with less contribution rates from the Great Lake and the tributaries that feed them.  Since May 28, 2021, the Lake has been stable due to triggers from the Lake Action Management Plan (LAMP) and will remain this way through mid-July.

District staff are currently seeing different stands of weeds developing without the first growth actually dying off and turning over year; which compounds water flow problems and could lead to other WQ issues.  It is expected to see a full turn on Sodus, Port Bay and Blind Sodus Bay sometime in the next week. The cooler temperatures will impact the weed breakdown which may make the turn less noticeable if wind and water circulation continue.

Natural Algae develops as submerged aquatic plants begin to die. This is an indicator of nutrient excretion from the plan which is what prompts algae growth before it recycles to the bottom of the bay and new growth begins. This is the cycle turn.  As the Algae ages it floats up in the water column until it reaches the surface before the wind and wave push it to the bottom and pull waters from the bottom to the top. This happens on average 3 -5 a year depending on depth and weather conditions.

Low water was expected this year due to last year’s drought conditions and low snow accumulation totals on both the south and to north.  It was unexpected to how it will progress.  Starting 6/1/2021, the District has been doing inspections on each of the embayments and having conversations with the affiliated associations. If you are in need of more information, contact your waterfront association for details.

Key message – keep your water moving! If possible, limit boats, tubs, rafts, jet skis and other water recreation apparatus in the water when not in use to allow for weed not to collect in them and cause less circulation and heat incubation.

Bay Breakdown:

Sodus Bay – access is tricky due to low water and infrastructure. Plan to slow down and be mindful of sediment movement that has occurred due to the low water.  Water temperatures are warmer but the fish are still there in areas where there are deeper waters and weed stands. Counterproductive, yes.  Along Crescent Beach and the Island area the weeds have been dense. The harvesting program has worked from Margareta Launch to Northern LeRoy Island areas to remove as many weeds as possible with access (which is troublesome). Why haven’t they clear cut? Because we are trying to manage over 1000 acres of flow and fisheries. A serpentine pattern was cut through the weed barriers to allow water flow. Some additional break off will occur because of the disturbance.

East Bay – looks pretty good but evaporation rates are going to have an impact. Make sure to be mindful of sediment and structure movement due to the already shallow nature of the embayment on the western areas. June 4, 2021 EBIA reported their chemical treatment was applied and so far vegetation growth does not look bad.

Port Bay – Overall the north-end recreation areas look good. Be careful of sediment movement as there are a few areas that went from deep to very very shallow along the northern eastern side. Wolcott Creek inlet near the South NYSDEC Launch (closed) has large die off of weeds which were matted and collection as of Monday, June 28th. The lack of rain in this area is not producing much contribution to water levels in the Bay. If you have dock areas on the southern end, graves point, Thompkins point, along the N. Maple Rd, and some of the smaller roads on the east side, please try and mitigate material in dock areas by raking it and letting it dry.   It isn’t the best thing to do on a holiday weekend but it may help preserve non toxic and potentially toxic algal blooms within the next few weeks.

Blind Sodus Bay – has several stands of three types of early season weeds that are in the process of maturity right before the holiday and the bay will turn over probably this weekend. Small Pond Weed, Magnus and Curly Pond Weed are what can be viewed in the below photos. These are low growing weeds that look larger due to the lack of water. At maturity they are about 24-36’’. In a three week period the stands have gone from growth, to maturity and now recycling as you begin to see the feathering of algae growing on them.  Weed mats, while more than the last two years, will die off in the next week.  There was an ale wive die off the first stretch of 90 degree weather three weeks ago. Technical staff saw reminisce along the eastern shoreline which probably contributed to the rapid aging of the stand.

Maxwell Bay – very shallow even for kayakers. Do not try to get out and stand up it is muck full of botulism spined water chestnut seeds. Stick to the creek channel center and you can access the lake.

Canal and Seneca River – waters are still being held back due to maintenance unable to be managed in 2020. Minimal flow is occurring and good for fishing and small craft access at various locations.

Water Quality Update 07-28-2023

Water Quality Update 07-28-2023 – FAQ

Although duckweed can cover the water surface, it is not algae, and does not produce harmful toxins.

1. Why are weed and algae conditions so frequent this year?

Weed growth in 2023 is in direct correlation from early season water temperatures which began growth early.   The fast and random nature of the storm systems rolling through, keep causing flushes from the tributary streams. Nutrients from these streams are moving into the bay which is causing stronger weed beds in general and with the clarity of the water more dense growth is occurring.  Weeds, many of the Bay viewers are seeing, include many natives and invasive species combined this year. Surprisingly, earlier in the season, regular milfoil, elodea and eel grass.   This past week, the bay turned over which caused a mixing of the water columns. Think of “shaking the Italian dressing bottle.” The previously individualize water columns have now been blended which forced many of the weeds to reach maturity and die. This causes a release of nutrients back into the water, which causes algae to grow and die and then float to the top. Currently, the “nutrient plops = algae” is mixing with break off and floating duckweed.

Certain areas of the bays that are shallower and restricted in water movement do have potential for Cyanobacterial blooms aka Blue/Green Algae.

Cyanobacterial Blooms

How can you help? Run a boat slowly through the area to introduce oxygen and mix the water columns. Oxygen keeps these bacterial strains from growing and multiplying.

2. Are the weeds and striated algal harmful to animals or humans?

The weeds them self and algae that is currently present in many of the areas in Sodus Bay, are not harmful to animals or humans in the nature of medical concerns.
Cyanobacterial Blooms are, if you begin to have an area that looks like a paint spill on the water, do not go in the water or allow animals too. Slowly move the water with a boat or bubbler to introduce oxygen and mitigate growth of the impacted area. https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/77118.html

3. How can people get rid of the weeds gathering along their docks and crowding their shorelines?

Short term response to mitigate the algae and weeds from becoming a long term cycle of nutrients from dying plants becoming food for new growth, removal is the best option.  Pull a small amount onto your dock to dry in the sun, then scoop up and apply to flowers or vegetables.  Weeds dry down about 90% and are full of nitrogen. Weeds do not grow well in areas were there is moving water. Regular movement of water and increased oxygen has a lot of benefits.  It will reduce strong weed growth, draw fish and other in water wildlife to eat the weeds. The oxygen will also mitigate algal growth.

Other things that will mitigate weed growth in your immediate waterfront is how you care for your lawn.  Please see Homeowners guide for additional details on strategies: Homeowners Guide for Shoreline Property Owners


INFocus Groundwater Recharge on a Cold Raining Day in Wayne County

Water Cycle

These cold and rainy fall days may feel a little uncomfortable, but with the rain, the land is actually getting a “recharge.”  The land is coming out of a drought year. We need the aquifers refilled to maintain drinking water and long term watershed supply. When it rains, water does not stop moving when it hits the ground. Some water flows along the land into streams, bays, and lakes. Some water is used up by trees and plants and other water particles evaporate and return to the atmosphere which increases humidity and storm potential. Local forecasts keep changing for snow and precipitation projections but based on the water systematic increases, water increases the potential recycling within the local system.  It also provides opportunities to balance carbon and other important air quality effects from the local community and ecosystem.

Recharge and water supply from the fall perspective set up the local community to withstand the frost freeze changes during winter months.  Many storms like the last week, while consistent and bountiful, the 5 inches of average rain in the last week has helped elevate water tables, recharge many local wells and increase Lake Ontario’s water level during times of draw down to help balance shoreline levels. All surface water has a purpose and excess water seeps into the ground.

The water that seeps into the ground clings to particles of soil and plant roots just below the land surface that provide plants enough to grow. It also provides winter resiliency for the plants during hardening for healthy stock next year. The water not used by plants moves deeper into the ground and downward through empty spaces or cracks in the soil, sand, or rocks until it reaches a layer of rock through which water cannot easily move. This creates a reserve.   The top of the water in the soil, sand, or rocks is called the water table, and the water that fills the empty spaces and cracks is called the groundwater zone. Water seeping down from the land surface adds to the groundwater and is called recharge water. Maintaining good aquifer levels will support water storage for water treatment systems and irrigation for agricultural production, and the garden plants and trees.


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