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.
Brief Overview of Water Quality in the Cayuga Lake Watershed – Stephen Penningroth, Executive Director, Community Science Institute
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
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.
Volunteer Stream Monitoring Reveals Rising Salt Levels in Ground Water – Stephen Penningroth, Executive Director, Community Science Institute
Salt in our streams: Where it comes from and where it goes – Dan Karig, Professor Emeritus of Geology, Cornell University
Tracking the Source of High Electrical Conductivity in a Stormwater Retention Pond – Chris Sinton, Associate Professor of Geology, Ithaca College
After The Ban – Why Keep on Monitoring? – Stephen Penningroth, Executive Director, Community Science Institute
Stream Monitoring, Landfills, and Aquifers – Rachel Treichler, Attorney, Law Office of Rachel Treichler, Hammondsport NY
Sediment Loading from Three Tributary Streams to the South End of Cayuga Lake, 2009-2013 – Stephen Penningroth, Executive Director, Community Science Institute
Loading of Phosphorus and Sediment to the South End of Cayuga Lake – Stephen Penningroth, Executive Director, Community Science Institute
Volunteer-CSI Monitoring Partnership Tracks Water Quality – Stephen Penningroth, Executive Director, Community Science Institute
Cayuga Lake Modeling Project – Erin Menzies, M.S. Candidate, Cornell University
History of the Fall Creek Watershed – Laura Johnson-Kelly, Historian, Town of Ithaca
Agricultural Environmental Management – Aaron Ristow, Program Specialist, Tompkins County Soil & Water Conservation District
Maintaining the City’s Water Supply – Roxanna Johnston, Lab Director, City of Ithaca Water Treatment Plant
Stormwater Pollution What You Can Do – Angel Hinickle, Stormwater Specialist, Tompkins County Soil & Water Conservation District
Six Mile Creek Sediment Loads – Matt Yarrow, GIS Specialist, Community Science Institute
Village of Trumansburg Sewer System – Debbie Watkins, Village of Trumansburg
BMI in Trumansburg Creek with Stream Watch – Adrianna Hirtler, BMI Specialist, Community Science Institute
Ulysses Comprehensive Plan – Elizabeth Thomas, Deputy Supervisor, Town of Ulysses
Cayuga Inlet History – Francesca Merrick, CSI Intern
Dredging and Sediment Cayuga Inlet – Lisa Nicholas, Senior Planner, City of Ithaca
Cayuga Inlet Combatting Hydrilla – Angel Hinickle, Stormwater Specialist, Tompkins County Soil & Water Conservation District
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