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.


Keep Leaves Away from Storm Drains

storm_drainsNow is the time of year to be conscious of the yard and garden clean-up. Make sure you keep leaves and grass out of storm drains.  Fallen leaves and grass clippings can plug storm drains and can cause flooding to our roadways.  If yard waste such as leaves, grass clippings, and small twigs are disposed of in a storm drain, they will make their way to a natural body of water where they threaten aquatic life and degrade water quality.

Don’t feel obligated to rake up every last leaf in your yard this fall. Let some leaves stay on the ground — they have many benefits to wildlife and the garden. A composting-leavesleaf layer sometimes called duff, several inches deep is natural on forest floors. This leaf layer is its own mini-ecosystem! Many wildlife species live in or rely on the leaf layer to find food like earthworms and other beneficial microbes.

From a gardening perspective, fallen leaves offer a double benefit. Leaves will form a natural mulch that helps suppress weeds and at the same time fertilize the soil as they break down. Why spend money on mulch and fertilizer when you can make your own? Here is a great video on how to create leaf mold, it takes a few years, but it is considered garden gold. Farmer’s Almanac  page.

If leaves must be racked, don’t throw them in the trash. Compost them or drop them off at a municipal recycling center so they can be turned into compost that you and other members of your community can use in the spring. Some communities even offer curb-side pick up of leaves specifically for municipal composting operations.

  1. Leaves make good insulation for overwintering tender perennials. The best time to mulch perennials is after the ground has frozen, so put aside shredded leaves in bags to use later in the fall.
  2. Mow leaves and clippings into the lawn, lawns actually benefit from thin layers of leaves. Leaf litter improves the soil, lessening the need for fertilizer in the spring.
  3. Leaf humus can lighten heavy clay soils, so leave a layer in the garden.
  4. Leaves increase the moisture retention of dry, sandy soils.

The Wayne County Master Gardeners can offer more information, visit

Happy Raking!


Blind Sodus Bay and Port Bay REDI Project Updates Available

Port Bay, Wayne County NY

In response to the extended pattern of flooding along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, the Resiliency & Economic Development Initiative (REDI) was created to increase the resilience of shoreline communities and bolster economic development in the region. Wayne County in partnership with the New York State REDI program has committed to working together on addressing resiliency shoreline issues and has been in the process of choosing priority projects across the County since June 2019. The Wayne County Project Profiles provides a full overview of the projects chosen for Wayne County.

Wayne County Soil & Water Conservation District (WCSWCD) is working in collaboration with Wayne County as a general contractor to address shoreline resiliency needs for the Port Bay Barrier Bar System and the Blind Sodus Bay Bluff and Barrier Bar System.

The District is pleased to announce project information and updates are now available.  Updates include project history, story maps, engineering design reports, project profiles, SEQR reports, and more.

Follow these links to the project reports:

REDI Project Updates

      • Project Overview
      • BLIND SODUS BAY, Bluff and Barrier Bar System – WCSWCD collaborating with Wayne County as a general contractor
      • PORT BAY, Barrier Bar System – WCSWCD collaborating with Wayne County as a general contractor

At the bottom of the two project pages, there is a way for the public to make comments. The District hopes a 90% project report will be released by the end of the year.

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 update August 13th-26th


Second Creek increased streamflow. This is an important part of a natural cycle because of its impact on water quality and the living organisms and habitat in our streams.

As we enter the final week of August, we can see the end of summer just around the corner. All of the recent precipitation has provided a stark contrast to the weather from May and June. Over the past two weeks, we have seen the aftermath of tropical storm Fred and additional passing showers from Hurricane Henri’.

Rainstorms are categorized by their rainfall intensity and frequency of occurrence. This is determined by calculating the amount of rainfall per hour, or the total rainfall for a 24-hour period. For example, in Wayne County, a one-year storm event will drop 1.9” of rain over 24 hours, whereas a 100-year storm will provide between 5” to 5.5” of rain for the same time period. The intensity is the amount of rain falling and the frequency is listed as the 1-year or 100-year storm. The frequency represents the probability that a storm of that magnitude will occur. In other words, it is a safe bet that Wayne County will receive a storm that drops at least 1.9” of rain over a 24 period, or 0.08” in an hour. On the other hand, there is a 1% chance (1/100) that a storm will drop at least 5” of rain over a 24-hour period. Between 1” – 1.5” of rain was forecasted to fall throughout the County on the 18th. Lyons received nearly 3” of rain over the course of the day, which puts last week’s storm at about a 10-year storm event for the region. This high-flow rain event had an immediate impact on our local streams and rivers.

FL PRISM – NYS Parks On Water Chestnut Awareness Event – Hand Harvesting Water Chestnut – Black Creek

In other news, Wayne County wrapped up its Water Chestnut hand pull season on Friday, August 13th. A patchwork crew from FL-PRISM and NYS-PRHP (Parks) surveyed a new location within the Black Creek Unit of DEC’s Lake Shore Marshes Wildlife Management Area. The crew of seven had to carry kayaks 1/2 mile to and from the hand launch due to a fallen tree blocking the access road. 1.25 miles of stream corridor was surveyed, and a small population of water chestnut was found towards the end of the stream. The infestation was documented, and all the invasive plants were removed from the wetland within an hour of finding them. After reporting to NYSDEC, it was determined that this will be a targeted area for next year’s management efforts.

At first glance, this event may seem insignificant, but it highlights some critical points for invasive species control. First and foremost, the working partnerships between agencies are critical for keeping up with landscape-wide surveying and management. Secondly, since this infestation is relatively small, this site is a great candidate for eradication with one to two annual management events.

Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District has hosted five water chestnut awareness events this season. Work was done in 4 locations with 75 people, 21 hours on the water hand pulling and surveying for this invasive species.

At the end of the day, the District and Partners covered over 4 miles of streams and removed ~2650 lbs. of water chestnut.

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 Quality Observations and Updates 08-05-2021

sheltered coves have an accumulation of duckweed and filamentous algae on the surface and dense concentrations of aquatic plants.

Port Bay -sheltered coves accumulation of duckweed and filamentous algae on the surface.

Blind Sodus Bay is currently in a clear state in the south half of the bay. There is low planktonic algae biomass and sediment that isn’t being disturbed by wind and waves. The southern shallows of the bay are dominated by Flat-stem pondweed (Potamogeton zosteriformis) with some sparse Eel grass (Vallisneria americana) also present. The high rooted plant biomass is most likely attributed to clear water and less algae.

Port Bay is currently in a turbid state throughout the bay. The water has a green hue and visibility is less than 1.5 feet. There’s some sparse milfoil visible growing up to the surface. The sheltered coves have an accumulation of duckweed and filamentous algae on the surface and dense concentrations of aquatic plants. The algae may be limiting the amount (biomass) of rooted aquatic plants underneath it in certain areas. The large biomass of planktonic algae may be a result of continuous nutrient recycling in relation to the depth of the bay and the ability of wind to cause mixing. There is an isolated Blue-green algae bloom occurring in the marina of the Port Bay RV and Campground. People in this area should limit possible exposure to themselves and pets.

Sodus Bay is in a semi-turbid state. With a flush of organic material-rich tributary water from the watershed a few weeks ago and the bay possibly thermal stratifying, there is an abundance of food (nutrients) in the water column.

Thermal Stratification – the trend of impoundments to form separate and distinct thermal layers during warm weather. There are usually three distinct layers:

        • Epilimnion comprising the top warm layer,
        • Metalimnion (or thermocline): the middle layer, which may change depth throughout the day, and
        • Hypolimnion colder layer extending to the floor of the waterbody.

The hypolimnion can become depleted of dissolved oxygen in summer because of the biological oxygen demand of bacterial decomposers, reduced photosynthetic activity, and the minimal mixing with upper layers. Anoxia, or absence of oxygen, in the bay’s sediment, has been strongly correlated with internal phosphorus loading to the water column. The soluble phosphorus released is readily available for uptake by algae.

NYS DEC Reminder: Report Observations of Cladophora Along NY’s Great Lakes Shorelines

Please let the NYSDEC know if you see the filamentous algae, Cladophora, by using the online observation form. Thank you in advance for helping us understand where, when, and the extent to which Cladophora is accumulating along our Great Lakes shorelines. Email if you have any questions.

NYS DEC How to report a Suspected Algal Bloom? (Click here)

Water Chestnut in the Waterways of Wayne County

Water ChestnutWater chestnut (Trapa natans) can be found this time of year in many of the waterways in Wayne County.  The newest infestation was found in 2018 at Port Bay and is being managed strictly by hand-pulling.  It is major nuisance because these dense mats of rooted vegetation are very difficult to get through in a boat, kayak, canoe, or when swimming. For water quality alone, Water Chestnut completely depletes the oxygen by pressing down from the surface, heating the water columns, and prohibiting water movement because of the long-rooted tendrils beneath the rosette.  Water chestnut spreads by rosette and fruits detaching from the stem and floating to another area and by clinging to floating objects including recreational watercraft, the pads of boat trailers, and fishing equipment. In addition, the dense mats shade out native aquatic plants that provide food and shelter to native fish, waterfowl, and insects. Decomposition of these dense mats causes dissolved oxygen levels that may kill fish and then nutrient recycling causes the next generation to return stronger than before.

#waterqualityupdates #waterchestnut #invasivespecies

What you need to know about Water Chestnut:

*In NY, Water Chestnut is an annual. It does not propagate from fragmentation and can have up to 3 stands in NY

*1 Seed Pod can produce up to 144 plants and stays viable for up to 10 years and even if dislodged and floating can still repropagate.

stem and pod

Water Chestnut Seed Pods

Water Chestnut Seed Pods

*Management techniques vary by waterbody but harvesting this Annual Plant by hand pulling or mechanically the rosette before they produce their seed, mitigates several next generations and will open up waterways for other native vegetation to return creating habitat and flow for better water quality

Currently, New York State Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation & Finger Lakes Partners of Regional Invasive Species Management are partnering with the District to address several areas that cannot be managed by mechanical harvesting in Wayne County to hand-pull under NYSDEC permits. It will take years of management to address some of the seedbeds in Wayne County. Some of the oldest “seedbeds” of water chestnut include East Bay, South of Sodus Bay Bridge, and Second Creek. Thank you to SOS and SBIA for continued efforts in addressing stands on Second Creek, the inlet at the end of Grieg Street in Sodus Point, and Clark Creek.  Without partnership, management would not be possible.

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) 

-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.