Owasco Lake

Owasco Lake is the sixth largest of the Finger Lakes. It is located on the south edge of the City of Auburn and contained entirely within Cayuga County. Compared to the other Finger Lakes, Owasco Lake is an intermediate-sized lake. It has a large drainage basin to surface ratio (the larger the basin, the larger the surface inflow, including nutrients), which may account for the high nutrient-loading of Owasco Lake.

Owasco Lake provides drinking water to over 44,000 residents in Cayuga County, including residents within the City of Auburn. Click here to view the Owasco Lake Watershed map.



Owasco Lake Physical Features

Elevation: 712 feet
Area: 10.65 square miles
Shoreline Length: 27 miles
Length: 10.7 miles
Average Width: 1.2 miles
Maximum Depth: 177 feet
Mean Depth: 97 feet
Towns adjacent to the Lake: Fleming, Moravia, Niles, Owasco, Scipio, Venice


Owasco Lake Watershed Features

Area: 205 square miles
Counties: Cayuga (81.5%), Onondaga (2.3%) and Tompkins (16.2%)
Towns within the watershed: Towns of Fleming, Genoa, Locke, Moravia, Niles, Owasco, Scipio, Sempronius, Sennett, Summerhill and Venice in Cayuga County. Towns of Dryden, Groton and Lansing in Tompkins County. Skaneateles in Onondaga County.
Villages within the watershed: Village of Moravia in Cayuga County and Village of Groton in Tompkins County.

Owasco Lake Initiatives


The County received a grant to incorporate the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Nine Key Elements into the Owasco Lake Watershed Management and Waterfront Revitalization Plan. The Owasco Lake Watershed Nine Element Plan for Phosphorus Reduction was approved in 2022.  For more information, visit https://www.cayugacounty.us/1244/Owasco-Watershed-Plan.

Groups involved with protecting Owasco Lake

Owasco Lake Watershed Management Council

Owasco Lake Watershed Inspection and Protection Division

Owasco Watershed Lake Association

Save Owasco Now

Additional Resources

Owasco Lake Watershed Rules and Regulations Update Project

Current Owasco Lake Watershed Rules and Regulations

Finger Lakes Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management Owasco Lake Fact Card

John Halfman’s Research of Owasco Lake

Owasco Watershed Lake Association Citizen Science

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Waterbody Inventory/Priority Waterbodies List: Owasco Lake and Tributaries

Owasco Lake Harmful Algal Bloom Action Plan

City of Auburn Annual Water Quality Report

Town of Owasco Annual Water Quality Report

Additional Studies:

A Limnological Study of the Finger Lakes of New York (1914):  https://digitalcommons.brockport.edu/tech_rep/138/