Veronica Volk

Veronica Volk is a Reporter/Producer for WXXI News.  She comes from WFUV Public Radio, where she began her broadcasting career as a reporter covering the Bronx, and the greater New York City area. She later became the Senior Producer of WFUV’s weekly public affairs show, Cityscape.
 
Originally from Ocean County, New Jersey, Veronica got her B.A. in Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University, concentrating on Media, Culture, and Society.
 

WXXI News

Three massive tanks in the shape of 60-foot-tall beer cans lie on their side on a barge, as a red tugboat pushes them down the last leg of their journey along the Erie Canal.

The Genesee Beer Co. is shipping a total of a dozen of these tanks to Rochester as part of a massive modernization project, and public relations campaign. The fermentation tanks will be used to brew millions of bottles of beer at a time and were too large to ship by truck or train.

Veronica Volk / Great Lakes Today

Spring flooding along Lake Ontario is damaging many homes along the shoreline, and it’s hurting people who have businesses there. Now, business owners say it will take a long time to recover -- even after the floodwaters go away.

Marge’s is a little bungalow bar in Rochester. Inside, there's a small wooden bar and a few games, but you don't go to Marge’s to stay inside.

Out back is a big stretch of beach looking out over Lake Ontario. There's a tiki hut and frozen drink machine, and live music on the weekends.

Veronica Volk / Great Lakes Today

Public beaches along the Lake Ontario shoreline are under water, which may put a damper on some summer plans.

Veronica Volk / Great Lakes Today

Plan 2014 is unpopular with some residents of the southern shore of Lake Ontario, because it lets the water levels get higher, more frequently, and potentially for longer periods of time, which could cause damage to lakefront property owners.

So it makes sense that flooded homeowners like Tom Piekunka in Sodus Point are blaming the change in regulation for the change in their environment.

"This is what they want. They want the higher water. We're just collateral damage."

Veronica Volk / Great Lakes Today

Due to heavy rains, Lake Ontario is overflowing its banks. Some New Yorkers want to lower the lake level by releasing water from a dam downstream. But the International Joint Commission, which controls the dam, says that will bring more flooding to Montreal. And the city is already reeling.

According to Jacob Bruxer at the IJC, Quebec is in for an historic weekend. The region has already been dealing with high water levels and flash flooding due to heavy rains over the last week and now it's projected to get worse.

Veronica Volk / Great Lakes Today

Lake Ontario is 20 inches higher than normal, and New York towns along the south shore are filling sandbags and making other flood preparations.

VERONICA VOLK / Great Lakes Today

On a tiny beach at Erie Basin Marina in Buffalo, N.Y., Nate Drag scans the sand and driftwood. He's part of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, and he helps organize beach clean ups.

"The closer you look, you can start seeing the plastic popping out," he says.

Last year, Drag says, hundreds of volunteers picked up thousands of pounds of trash. And lots of plastic bags.

"There you go," he said. "There's a garbage bag, and then there’s a shopping bag."

Veronica Volk / Great Lakes Today

Unstable ice has been a factor in the deaths of more than 30 people across the northeast and Great Lakes region this winter. One of those tragedies took place last month on Conesus Lake, New York. 

Conesus Lake is the westernmost of the Finger Lakes and one of the smallest -- it’s about a mile across and eight miles long.

On a recent day, Cameron Copeland looked out over its waters and reminisced about his brother, Chris.

Veronica Volk / Great Lakes Today

Jon Gee of Environment and Climate Change Canada stands on a platform overlooking a part of the Hamilton, Ontario, harbor called Randle Reef. It's one of the most polluted sites on Canada’s side of the Great Lakes. 

Behind him, water runs from a sewer drain into the harbor. This runoff is cleaner now, but years ago, this would be packed with chemical byproducts from the surrounding steel mills and other factories.

For the first time in over 50 years, the U.S. and Canada are changing the way they regulate water levels on Lake Ontario. It’s an attempt to meet the changing needs of people who use the lake – from the shipping industry to environmentalists.

But homeowners fear the change may mean more flooding.


Elizabeth Miller / Great Lakes Today

A new study from Rochester Institute of Technology in New York tracks how much plastic is getting into the Great Lakes, and where it's going.

Matthew Hoffman, an assistant professor who is part of the research team, says about 10,000 metric tons of plastic is getting into the lakes every year. In Lake Ontario alone, he says, "it's the equivalent of 28 Olympic-sized swimming pools filled with empty plastic bottles."

Veronica Volk / Great Lakes Today

Congress' approval of a spending bill will renew funding for a program that aids Great Lakes waters and surrounding lands.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has funded everything from water treatment upgrades to fish spawning habitats to toxic cleanups.

Since its implementation in 2010, money from the initiative has gone toward over 3,000 projects across the region.

Julia Botero / WRVO News File Photo

Every year, the Salmon River Fish Hatchery in Altmar, raises millions of fish to be stocked in Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.

The hatchery raises several species of fish, but their pride and joy is the chinook salmon. Each fall, employees harvest millions of eggs, fertilize them, incubate them, and raise the fish until they're ready to be released into the wild.

This time of year, Les Resseguie and his team are overseeing millions of chinook eggs -- each about the size of a pea -- incubating in big trays in the hatchery’s basement.

Jim Kennard

 

An eighteenth century sloop called the Washington has been discovered off the coast of Oswego.

Jim Kennard, Roger Pawlowski, and Roland Stevens found the ship, which sank in 1803. It is the second oldest wreck discovered in Lake Ontario.

Kennard and his team used sonar technology and a remotely operated vehicle to locate the sloop.

"As an explorer, you can't be the first one to the top of a mountain because most mountains have been climbed, but you can be the first one to make a discovery of a shipwreck," said Kennard.

Farmers helping to limit algae in Great Lakes

Jul 2, 2016
Elizabeth Miller / Great Lakes Today

Summers along the Great Lakes include fishing, boating -- and dangerous algae blooms that can shut down beaches. These blooms are caused by excess phosphorous, a lot of which comes from farms. Now some of the region's farmers are testing agricultural practices that could reduce harmful runoff.

Duane Stateler and his son Anthony run Stateler Family Farms, one of a handful of demonstrations farms across the country. Over the next five years, three farms in Northwest Ohio will test different practices to find out what reduces phosphorus runoff.

Jim Kennard

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

Underwater explorer Jim Kennard says he and his colleagues Roger Pawlowski and Roland Stevens were canvassing miles of lake bottom with a remote control video camera when it happened.

"All of a sudden you see something and the adrenaline kicks in."

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson says they are improving operations at their crisis hotline in Canandaigua.

A report issued by the inspector general earlier this month documented almost two dozen cases of veterans calling the VA's crisis hotline and getting a voicemail message.

Deputy Secretary Sloan says the IG's data is outdated, that it does not include their most recent improvements and adjustments, and that it undermines the hard work of the center's staff.

WATCH: New York Chips

Feb 27, 2016

It's hard to describe just how massive this pile of potatoes in the Marquart Farms storage facility is. The mountain of spuds towers over Adam Marquart, the operations manager.

"What we're looking at in this building is about 24 million potatoes. That represents about 200 acres of crop, and we harvested them in September. These potatoes are conditioned now, and actually ready to go make chips now."