Volunteers will be monitoring the Cayuga Inlet, Buttermilk Creek, and Cascadilla Creek today as part of CSI’s Synoptic Stream Monitoring Program. These volunteers will be collecting field measurements and
Volunteers will be monitoring the Cayuga Inlet, Buttermilk Creek, and Cascadilla Creek today as part of CSI’s Synoptic Stream Monitoring Program. These volunteers will be collecting field measurements and water samples at 25 locations throughout these three sub-watersheds. Samples collected by volunteers are analyzed at our EPA certified water testing lab for over 12 characteristics of water quality including nutrients, sediment, and pathogenic bacteria. Visit the Community Partnerships page for more information about the Synoptic Stream Monitoring Program. Volunteers can find a guide to sampling procedure and tracking sheets on the Volunteer Resources page.
The water quality of the Cayuga Inlet, Buttermilk Creek, and Cascadilla Creek was first monitored by these volunteers in partnership with CSI in 2007. Over 12 years of data show the water in these creeks to have low concentrations of nutrients relative to northern tributaries in the Cayuga Lake watershed. Water samples collected at the mouth of the Cayuga Inlet (Cherry and Taber St. sampling location) average 31.56 mg/L of total phosphorus and 0.25 mg/L of inorganic nitrogen during baseflow conditions. However, under stormflow conditions, concentrations of nutrients and sediment in Cayuga Inlet are much higher. Water samples collected at this location under stormflow conditions average 134.34 mg/L of total phosphorus. The average total phosphorus concentration during baseflow conditions at the mouth of Buttermilk Creek are lower at 13.15 mg/L. Samples collect at the mouth of Cascadilla Creek under baseflow conditions have a higher average concentration of total phosphorus of 40.49 mg/L. These results can be viewed or downloaded for use on CSI’s public Water Quality Database.
The Cayuga Inlet is a large river emerging from multiple well-known tributaries. The river flows through the towns of Enfield, Newfield, Danby, Spencer, and Dryden. Wetlands that form much of the southern headwaters of the Cayuga Inlet, including those found in the Lindsay Parsons Biodiversity Preserve, are important sanctuaries for biodiversity and help safeguard water quality. The river is important habitat for Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout. Smaller tributaries streams that flow into the Inlet include Enfield Creek, which flows over the famous Lucifer Falls, Enfield Glen, and the Lower Falls found in Robert H. Treman State Park. Lick Brook is another small tributary stream that flows over the tall Lick Brook Falls and through Lick Brook Gorge along its path to the Inlet.
Buttermilk Creeks flows into the artificial Lake Treman, through the iconic Buttermilk Gorge, over Buttermilk Falls and into the flood control system where the Cayuga Inlet flows into the lake. Cascadilla Creek flows through much of the urban environment of Cornell Campus and the City of Ithaca as it continues to carve the beautiful Cascadilla Gorge, a frequented natural oasis in the heart of downtown Ithaca.
Including Buttermilk Creek and Cascadilla Creek, the Cayuga Inlet watershed is 106 square miles of forest and wetlands (56%), agricultural land (36%), and developed land (8%) (NLCD 2016).
If you are interested in helping CSI protect water in the Cayuga Inlet watershed, please email our Outreach Coordinator Nathaniel Launer.
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