Water News from Near and Far

Lake Champlain Gage

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has a new lake level gage in Port Henry, New York. The gage went on-line on April 10. The new gage will help assess potential damage from lake flooding and prepare to avoid such damage. It joins a network of lake gages that already includes Whitehall, Diamond Island, Burlington, Rouses Point, and Philipsburg, Quebec. A second new gage at Grand Isle State Park is expected but has not yet gone on-line. 

Great Lakes Scientists Gather in Burlington

The International Association of Great Lakes Research (IAGLR) will be in Burlington May 26 to 29 for their annual conference. IAGLR is a scientific organization made up of researchers studying the Laurentian Great Lakes, other large lakes of the world, and their watersheds. IAGLR members have a common interest in the management of large lake ecosystems on many levels and across many disciplines. Plenary speakers will include Jake Vander Zanden, limnology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Maude Barlow, an author and water quality advocate. LCC Staff Scientist Mike Winslow will present a paper about our volunteer cyanobacteria monitoring program. The entire conference program is available on-line as are summaries of all the presentations.

More Studies of Lake Flooding Coming

The most recent U.S. and Canadian budgets include funding for additional studies of flooding on Lake Champlain. The monies are a response to the 2011 flooding that caused so much damage, particularly along the Richelieu River in Quebec. The first steps in the study will develop detailed maps to show the effects of flooding at different levels. Down the line the work may lead to recommendations about flood control structures at the lake’s outlet, a step that LCC has generally opposed. The work will be overseen by a study committee established by the International Joint Commission

Which Trout to Stock?

How much does it matter that the fish stocked into a water body are native to that system? For decades fisheries managers have added brown trout (native to Germany) and rainbow trout (native to the Pacific Northwest) to waterbodies formerly occupied only by native brook trout. The Adirondack Almanack has recently reported on pleas made by some anglers to discontinue stocking non-native trout in areas where the brook trout might have a chance of reestablishing populations. The Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, a coalition of organizations and state and federal agencies working to restore brook trout populations, considers introduction of non-native fish as the second biggest threat to brook trout populations after warming water. Vince Wilcox, president of the Tri-Lakes chapter of Trout Unlimited, said he’d like DEC to put an end to stocking brown and rainbow trout in a stretch of the West Branch of the Ausable River. Limiting stocking would need to be accompanied by stricter regulations on the number of fish that can be taken from a stream to protect the remaining population from over-fishing. Jack Williams, a senior scientist with Trout Unlimited’s national organization, told Adirondack Almanack, “one of the big issues with fish stocking is that by stocking the non-native fish into those habitats, we really tend to swamp out some of those native genes in the native trout. Ironically, stocking non-native trout is one of the big threats to native fish.” 

Toxic Driveways

Spring is a time for sprucing up around homes. If resealing the driveway is on your to-do list be aware that sealants can have toxic effects on humans and wildlife. Runoff from pavement with coal-tar based sealant kills wildlife, damages DNA, and prevents repair of the damaged DNA according to two recently published studies from the USGS. Pavement sealants have high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Even three months after application runoff from the sealants cause 100% mortality to minnows and planktonic waterfleas. Fish cells exposed to the sealants caused damage to DNA and an inability to repair cell damage. Previous studies have shown that coal tar sealants are possible carcinogens and are a significant source of PAHs to lake sediments. Instead of resealing consider permeable pavers for the driveway instead.