Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake Water Quality Overviews from the Cayuga-Seneca WQ Initiatives Meeting (1/18/17)
The presentation below outlines the specific water quality issues facing the Cayuga Lake watershed and recommends a series of strategies for maintaining watershed health. The northern ~60% of the Cayuga Lake watershed loads almost twice as much bioavailable phosphorus to Cayuga Lake as the southern ~40%. The northern tributary streams’ high dissolved phosphorus loads contribute significantly to the long term eutrophication of Cayuga Lake and set the stage for algal blooms, including toxin producing algal blooms called HABs. It is hoped that NYSDEC will factor into the upcoming phosphorus Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) requirement for Cayuga Lake, to be released for public comment in May, 2017, the high levels of bioavailable phosphorus in the northern tributaries, levels which are documented in CSI’s online database and summarized in this Power Point presentation. A second significant threat to water quality are elevated concentrations of pathogenic bacteria in most tributary streams throughout the Cayuga Lake watershed. Expanded water quality monitoring is needed, particularly north of Ithaca, to better understand and, ultimately, to manage bioavailable phosphorus and pathogenic bacteria as well as other potential impacts such as algal blooms, pesticides and microplastics.
The presentation below outlines the specific water quality issues facing the Seneca Lake watershed and recommends a series of strategies for maintaining watershed health. Seneca Lake has a higher salinity than the other Finger Lakes. Both chloride and sodium ions were significantly more concentrated in the 1960s and 1970s, though the lake has become fresher over time. The available evidence suggests that dumping of waste from various salt mines caused the salinity issue in the lake and not inputs from groundwater sources, as previously thought. Seneca Lake also has a nutrient loading problem. More phosphorus is entering the lake than leaving the lake leading, over time, to eutrophication. 2014 and 2015 stand out in the ongoing degradation as years when the area experienced more rainfall in the early spring, washing in more nutrients from bare soils and Concentrated Animal Feedlot Operations (CAFOs). The nutrient influx likely contributed to the recent rise in blue-green algae and their associated toxins in many Finger Lakes including Seneca Lake. Municipalities in the watershed should be concerned, become active in the Seneca Watershed Intermunicipal Organization (Seneca IO), and band together to reduce nutrient loading to the lake without impacting agricultural productivity.
Seneca Lake Water Quality – John D. Halfman, Finger Lakes Institute, Professor, Dept of Geoscience & Environmental Studies Program, Hobart & William Smith Colleges
“What’s in your Watershed?” Salt and Water Quality in the Southern Cayuga Lake Watershed (12/7/16)
Salt is found in some water bodies in our region in concentrations that are unexpectedly high. CSI’s public forum entitled, “What’s in Your Watershed? Salt and Water Quality in the Southern Cayuga Lake Watershed,” addressed this concern by considering the questions: Where does this salt come from and how might it affect water quality and ecosystem health? Presentations and summaries by Dan Karig, Chris Sinton and Steve Penningroth can be found below.