By Keir Chapman OSWEGO, N.Y. (NCC News) — It’s impossible to ignore the immediate problem plaguing Lake Ontario. Water levels have risen to unprecedented levels after an especially rainy start to spring.
The lake has already surpassed the heights of the 2017 flooding at 248.98 feet. The first few days of June have also seen a fair share of rain, meaning the problem will only get worse before it gets better.
However, as summer begins and the rains slows down, the water levels are expected to recede. Although the flooding may be done, the problem of pollution will still be at hand. A 2017 study by the New York State comptroller stated 796,753 people in the suburban parts of Monroe and Onondaga counties received drinking water from Lake Ontario.
Three million pounds of plastic litter the lake each year. Chemical and oil spills are two other ways humans have polluted Lake Ontario. In response, SUNY Oswego and its host city have teamed up to create the Grand Challenges Project. The goal is to help clean up and bring attention to the pollution in the lake.
Amy Bartell, the community art coordinator at the university, explained why she and other members of the project, took up the cause of protecting Lake Ontario.
“I believe we all have a responsibility to do what we can where we are,” Bartell said. “We happen to be on the shores of Lake Ontario. That view is our’s, and that shoreline is our’s to protect.”
Bartell oversees the We Are Lake Ontario exhibit that currently resides at SUNY Oswego Downtown. Advanced art students at the university used their talents to create pieces that bring attention to the pollution in the lake. Bartell commended the efforts of those who contributed.
“I really appreciate the vitality and commitment of our students to use their talents and their education in service of the forces of good,” Bartell said. “Their energies and talents and time have gone toward something bigger than us individually.”
The gallery opened on May 23 and will run until September 6.