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 GLCladophora@dec.ny.gov 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) 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.

Weekly Water Awareness Conditions Report 7-8-2021

Conditions Report

Due to sporadic wind and weather events, all of the 6 Wayne County embayments are experiencing several natural but hindering occurrences in their waterways. These occurrences include:

  1. Natural breakoff of aged vegetation “weed” stands which is causing floating weed mats. The intensity of the winds on the water will help to break these weed mats up and recycle them to the system, however, if they get caught in docking areas or in-between boats or other recreational vehicles they will likely just stay there.
    1. Best course of action is to rake/remove the individual mats so they do not cause additional algae development in the shallower waters around your waterfront.
  2. Turbidity of the water is normal during higher wind and wave events which will settle out about 24 hours after the storm. This is helpful because it is a mixing of the water columns and will aid in nutrient uptake from plant releases.
  3. Cladophora are nutrient releases from the substrate (soil) from the waterbody completing a nutrient cycle. (a turn over) These smelly blobs float around for about 72 hours in normal conditions before recycling to the bottom and refueling vegetation stands.

Water levels are remaining consistent at the 2.45.17-245.21 levels on the Lake this week but are still impacted by the winds from the Southwest and Northeastern storms earlier in the weekend. Due to the increased lower waters, despite the relative consistent Lake Levels, the bays each saw a 2-3 inch decrease over the entire waterbody from week (7/1) to week (7/7). This is likely a related impact due to vegetation break off and wind.

The water levels on all of the bays and Pultneyville Harbor saw periodic changes in water levels closest to their tributaries for about 24 hours after storms go through the area.

Why is it important to note the weather upland from your waterfront? Because this can aid you in planning for changes in the water, and as the season goes on, some additional water support for removing boats, rafts etc.

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.