The Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program (CSLAP) is a partnership between the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), New York State Federation and Lake Associations (NYSFOLA), and lake residents who help monitor and collect critical lake data. The data collected through the program is used to identify water quality issues, detect seasonal and long term patterns, and inform volunteers and lake residents about water quality conditions in their lake.
Cayuga County provides part of their Finger Lakes Lake Ontario Watershed Protection Alliance (FLLOWPA) funding to assist Lake Como and Duck Lake in their CSLAP programs. The funding for Owasco, Cayuga and Skaneateles Lakes in 2017 was provided by the NYS Environmental Protection Fund-Ocean and Great Lakes Program. The work is conducted by hardworking volunteers who donate their time to and resources to collect the samples.
2017 CSLAP reports for Cayuga County lakes are available on the NYSDEC website at https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/77882.html. Lakes that have reports available are Cayuga Lake, Duck Lake, Lake Como, Owasco Lake and Skaneateles Lake. The Finger Lakes Water Quality Report is also available on that page.
Hydrilla is an extremely aggressive aquatic plant that has the ability to grow up to a foot a day. The thick, dense mats it forms obstructs boating, swimming and fishing. Its invasiveness growth blocks sunlight that kills native plants and its excessive presence reduces oxygen in the water that can alter fish habitat. Waterfowl feeding areas and fish spawning sites are at risk of elimination with Hydrilla overabundance and water treatment, power generation and industrial facilities can sustain damage when intakes are blocked. Extreme and stubborn Hydrilla in an area can also lower the value of waterfront property.
The on-going fight against Hydrilla growing in Cayuga Lake in areas near Cayuga County has been underway now since 2017. This year’s treatment began in late June 2018. The approximate 60-day treatment plan includes a slow release of the herbicide fluridone through pellets applied below the water surface. The fluridone is absorbed into the plant’s roots and ultimately disrupts the plant’s ability to use light during its photosynthesis process. Throughout the course of treatment, there are no health risks to residents who draw their water from Cayuga Lake. For more information on Hydrilla and Fluridone, please visit the Cayuga County Health Department’s website at: http://www.cayugacounty.us/Community/Health/Environmental-Health/Hydrilla.
The team from the Army Corps of Engineers leading the efforts on Cayuga Lake are reporting success with a noticeably reduced amount of Hydrilla throughout the treatment area. The persistent nature of the plant however will mandate some form of management in the years to come.
Early treatment is necessary in stopping the spread of Hydrilla. In addition to scientific treatment strategies, the public too will be instrumental in identifying Hydrilla before it becomes too widespread making treatment impossible. Residents should learn what the plant looks like and, when in the water, be on the lookout for it. For more information on how to identify and report possible Hydrilla infestations in Cayuga Lake, go to http://www.cayugalake.org/hydrillahunters.html. To report Hydrilla in other County lakes, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 518-402-9405.
In addition, strands of Hydrilla can attach to boats and other equipment and is then transplanted to other areas and lakes if not appropriately cleaned off. Residents should carefully remove any aquatic vegetation, no matter how small, from water crafts when leaving any water body to be sure they are not transporting Hydrilla or other invasive species from one lake to another.
You can also learn more about invasive species here.
As the summer progresses, so does the possibility that harmful algal blooms will impact our County’s waterbodies. To learn more about harmful algal blooms, go here.
Two of our Finger Lakes currently are conducting surveillance for harmful algal blooms. The Owasco Watershed Lake Association, Owasco Watershed Inspection Program and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation are conducting a lake-wide surveillance program for Owasco Lake and information on that program can be found here. The Cayuga Lake Watershed Network, Discover Cayuga Lake and the Community Science Institute are also conducting the HABs Harriers Monitoring Program for Cayuga Lake and information on that program can be found here here.
For other waterbodies in the County, harmful algal blooms can be reported to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation on their website.
As part of his 2018 State of the State announcements, Governor Cuomo directed the state’s Water Quality Rapid Response Team to convene four regional Harmful Algal Blooms summits. The Central New York Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) Regional Summit was held on March 5th and 6th in Syracuse and concentrated on Cayuga, Owasco and Skaneateles Lakes. Representatives from the Cayuga County Water Quality Management Agency were in attendance.
This summit also included an evening session on March 6th that was open to the public where background information about harmful algal blooms was provided; as well as talks by experts, a panel discussion and an opportunity for local residents to share recommendations and ideas. This public session was archived and can be found here. Once on the site, you will see previously-recorded sessions along the right side, including the one in Syracuse (SUNY ESF).