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.
A public participation/outreach meeting was held on August 13th for the “Owasco Lake Watershed Management Plan—Incorporation of the EPA Nine Key Elements” project. This public meeting was held to provide an update on the process to incorporate the EPA Nine Key Elements into the Owasco Lake Watershed Management and Waterfront Revitalization Plan, and to obtain public input on Watershed conditions and issues. To view the presentations from that meeting or to view our public participation plan, please visit our website at http://www.cayugacounty.us/Departments/Water-Quality-Management-Agency/Information-on-County-Waterbodies/Owasco-Lake/Management-Plan.
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.
Wetlands are an important part of our natural environment. They are transition areas between upland and aquatic habitats. They provide critical flood and stormwater control by absorbing, storing and slowing down rain and snowmelt. They absorb nutrients, pollutants, and filter sediment out of the stormwater.
Cayuga County has received two grants from the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation’s Green Innovation Grant Program for the Owasco Flats Wetland Restoration and Riparian Buffers Initiative Project. This project will be located on City of Auburn owned land off of Route 38 in the Town of Moravia. The Owasco Inlet will be reconnected with its floodplain with water control structures so that during high flow events water will flow into created and existing wetlands to filter out nutrients and sediment. The created wetlands will be similar to natural vernal pools that have standing water about a week or two after storm events. Not having permanent standing water will encourage amphibian reproduction, while limiting predatory fish species, nesting waterfowl and mosquitoes.
Riparian buffers will also be added along drainageways and the Owasco Inlet to further reduce nutrients and sediment inputs. Construction of this project is planned to begin this year. Overall, the project will reduce phosphorus and sediment that reaches Owasco Lake while improving habitat for invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians and birds.
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).