Environment

Last year, flooding along Lake Ontario caused millions of dollars in damage to homes and businesses. And  in some areas, it drove people from their homes for months.

One neighborhood in Hamlin, N.Y., was hit particularly hard. Now, residents in the community near Rochester say they fear another harsh flood season.


Agriculturede/Flickr

As the Emerald Ash Borer continues its decimation of ash trees in New York state, it has turned up this winter for the first time in Tompkins County near Ithaca.

The invasive beetle species has been eating its way across the ash trees in New York state for the last decade, destroying a once vibrant ash tree population.  Entomologist Mike Griggs from the U.S. Department of Agriculture detected the infestation in Arnot Forest last month while walking his dog. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

The prospect of a beach for swimming on Onondaga Lake is taking a step forward.

It’s been almost 80 years since anyone was able to swim in Onondaga Lake from a public beach. Years of industrial pollution and sewage outflow destroyed any hope of public access until recent years, following a multi-million dollar cleanup of the lake once deemed the most polluted in the country.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

Experts on harmful algal blooms in bodies of water across upstate are developing plans and informing the public on solutions to the problem. The blooms can negatively affect drinking water quality and recreational use of lakes. A series of summits, including one recently in Syracuse, are part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s initiative to reduce the blooms.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Young Women's Christian Association or YWCA of Syracuse, along with churches and other community groups in the area, have been working to help the people of Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria hit the island in September. Some Puerto Ricans, displaced by the hurricane, have made their way to Syracuse, to stay with family and friends and start new lives.

After Hurricane Maria, Dorothy Huertas and her husband, who live in Syracuse, received a call from a friend they have known for 20 years, Jorge Luis Rodriguez Malave, who lives in Puerto Rico.

Last part of a series on environmental justice issues in the Great Lakes region.

At the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve, about 10 men are gathered in a classroom in the Haudenosaunee community center.  The older men are teaching about traditions – on this day, a funeral ritual.  But soon, Leroy Hill shifts the conversation to a new topic: water.

 “Is there anybody here who don’t have to either buy water or get it hauled?” Hill asks.


Circular enerG

A proposed incinerator in Seneca County that could turn trash into electricity is drawing some criticism from the community.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing an investment of $65 million into fighting algal blooms that have created an increasing number of problems across the state in recent years. 

Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

An international panel is asking businesses and property owners along Lake Ontario to complete an online survey about flood damage from record water levels this spring and summer.

The International Joint Commission says the survey takes about 10 to 25 minutes. The deadline to take it is Dec. 31.

The joint U.S.-Canadian panel says the survey gathers information on the extent of flooding, erosion, damage to shoreline structures and damage to homes and businesses.

Amid climate change, tiny bug causes big problems

Dec 9, 2017
Caitlin Whyte / Great Lakes Today

The hemlock woolly adelgid is almost impossible to see with the naked eye. But the tiny insect causes lots of damage to hemlock trees and their surroundings. That's likely to get even more serious as a warming climate allows it to move further north.

On a rainy day, City Forester Jeanne Grace takes me on a tour of the City Cemetery where tall, evergreen trees hang over many of the graves. Hemlock trees.

The cemetery has the peace and quiet of any cemetery, but if you take a closer look at the hemlocks -- real close -- you’ll spot the hemlock woolly adelgid.

Along Lake Ontario shoreline, high water and damage persist

Dec 2, 2017
Caitlyn Whyte / Great Lakes Today

As winter nears, Lake Ontario is still much higher than normal. And residents are shoring up walls of sandbags for protection against high waves.

Elizabeth Miller / Ideastream

When you think of the environmental movement, what comes to mind. Preserving the wilderness at national parks? Or guaranteeing safe drinking water in a city? The movement is reaching out for new issues and new people – especially minorities.

I meet Kim Smith-Woodford on a rainy day at Euclid Creek Reservation east of Cleveland. It’s a big wooded area, with a trail along the creek and shelters for birthday parties. Folks from all backgrounds come to this urban oasis.

The park means a lot to Smith-Woodford. It’s where she became more interested in the outdoors.

Nancy Mueller / NYS Federation of Lake Associations, Inc.

Updated at 8:00 p.m. Thursday

Onondaga County health officials continue to say that the city of Syracuse's drinking water, along with the drinking water of other municipalities that draw water from Skaneateles Lake, is safe to drink. 

Samples tested Thursday at the state’s Wadsworth Lab in Albany found 0.25 parts per billion inside the City of Syracuse Gatehouse located in the Village of Skaneateles, but prior to the completion of the chlorination.

This level is consistent with prior reported sampling at the Gatehouse and below the health advisory levels for both adults and sensitive populations. All other locations in the water system – including the City of Syracuse, the Town of DeWitt, the Town of Skaneateles, the Village of Elbridge, and the Village of Jordan – showed non-detectable levels of algal toxins in finished water. These levels remain below the EPA’s 10-day health advisory level of 0.3 parts per billion for sensitive populations and well below the EPA advisory level for adults of 1.6 parts per billion.

Residents in the Village of Skaneateles and the other municipalities which use this drinking water source can continue to drink the water.

Original Post

Elevated levels of toxic blue-green algae have been discovered in the water of Skaneateles Lake. The lake is the primary water supply of the city of Syracuse’s water system. While tests show the public water is still safe to drink, residents who live along the lake’s shoreline and drink water directly from the lake could be at risk.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Utica-area Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi is calling for more testing of the city's drinking water. The question is over the levels of chloroform and other carcinogenic contaminants, contained in the water.

Brindisi said a report from the Environment Working Group shows chloroform levels at 48 parts per billion in the water at the Mohawk Valley Water Authority. That’s higher than the state and national averages as well as the water tested in Syracuse and Rome.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

A former EPA administrator and a former New York state health department official have teamed up with a Vermont college to conduct a health survey of people potentially affected by polluted water in the villages of Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh, and in Bennington, Vermont.

Judith Enck was the EPA regional administrator during the Obama administration who first warned Hoosick Falls residents in the fall of 2015 not to drink the water in their village because it was contaminated with PFOA, a chemical used in plastics manufacturing for decades in the area.

David Stone / Flickr

Central New York state legislators have introduced a bill that would give the state Department of Environmental Conservation more flexibility with issuing deer control permits. This comes after DEC officials determined they were steering too far away from the current law. 

David Skeval of Cornell Coorperative Extension of Onondaga County said after an internal review at the DEC, officials realized their process of issuing deer culling permits is cumbersome, and also not following environmental law.

Nam Nguyen / Flickr

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The Asian carp captured this summer near the southern tip of Lake Michigan -- triggering a big scare -- apparently slipped past electric barriers.

Officials announced Friday that an autopsy of the 4-year-old fish showed that it originated in the Illinois/Middle Mississippi watershed, spending about a year in the Des Plaines River area.

It spent no more than a few months in the Little Calumet River before being captured on June 22, about nine miles from Lake Michigan.

A new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls 2016 the warmest year on record around the globe.  The surface temperature of the Great Lakes was also above average -- and that's not good news.


Allan Menkel

Researchers are trying to document the summer of high water on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. They're asking shoreline residents and local officials to fill out an online survey.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A yearly procession to commemorate the use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan took place in Syracuse yesterday. Organizers said the drive to abolish nuclear weapons is more important than ever in today’s political climate.

Activist Rea Kramer said we can not forget the destruction that followed the use of nuclear weapons over 70 years ago.

"I think we should all be especially anxious now because there is a president who uses the words, “fire and fury,” as a response to the threatening postures of North Korea," Kramer said.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

This year's flooding along Lake Ontario has taken a toll on municipalities, exhausting their resources and threatening their infrastructure. That's the case in Oswego where the city recently took an inventory of the destruction caused by the unprecedented water levels.

File Photo
New York Now / WMHT

The former EPA regional administrator under President Barack Obama said scientists who leaked the report about further evidence of climate change to The New York Times should be commended as “whistleblowers.”

USACE

In a long-awaited report, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says new measures are needed to prevent Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes.

The report says the current defense at the Brandon Road lock in Illinois – an underwater electric barrier – should be beefed up. The Army Corps' recommended plan would add water jets and complex noises – like the underwater recordings of a boat motor.

Gino Santo Maria / shutterstock

On Monday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is releasing a study detailing the best ways to prevent Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes.

A document outlining the study says the current defense – an underwater electric barrier – should be beefed up. The recommended plan would add complex noises – like the underwater recordings of a boat motor.

Veronica Volk / Great Lakes Today

For a lot of people and business around Lake Ontario, flooding put summer on hold. Now that the water is going down, businesses are coming back, including an amusement park on one of Toronto's harbor islands.

For months, the closure of the Toronto Islands has put their main attraction -- the Centreville Amusement Park -- on hiatus. Now, after 80 days, the islands are open to the public again.

Shawnda Walker is the director of marketing for the park. She says they've been preparing for this day for a long time.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Heavy rains wreaked havoc on Oneida County about a month ago causing flash floods, power outages and destroying some homes. Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited one area on Tuesday to announce funding that may help prevent flooding in the future.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

A project that could reduce the amount of toxins in Oswasco Lake, a primary source of drinking water for about a dozen communities in Cayuga County, is stalled.

The goal of the Owasco Flats Wetland Restoration Project is to build the floodplain around Oswasco Lake with plants and basins that can naturally filter out the toxins in the water from the surrounding tributaries. Phase one of the project was approved for $700,000 in state funding back in 2011. Its designer Bruce Natale says they've been securing permits and contractors ever since.

In this episode from July 23, 1993 John Weeks takes a break from doting on flowers and birds to address the mysterious private lives of mammals in nature.

Payne Horning / WRVO News (file photo)

As high water levels start to recede along the southern shore of Lake Ontario, the question remains: could something have been done to stop flooding that has devastated much of the shoreline?

Constellation Energy Group

The historically high water levels in Lake Ontario this year have threatened homeowners, municipalities and nuclear power plants - almost triggering emergency action at the Nine Mile Point Nuclear Facility in Oswego County.

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