Water Quality Committee

CLWN’s New Water Quality Committee

In January 2019 the CLWN Board of Directors approved establishment of a new Water Quality Committee (WQC).

Board member Bill Ebert, his co-sampler Tom Casella, and other dedicated volunteers recognized the need to create a formal group that would centralize information about issues such as water quality sampling, Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), aquatic invasive species, and the numerous other water quality issues that the Network has been focused on. The new WQC will also help centralize needed interactions with the Department of Environmental Conservation and other agencies.

The intent is to focus public attention on water quality issues and form cooperative partnerships both within and outside of The Network to develop action plans for mitigating and solving water quality problems. Additionally, many individuals and small groups are sampling water bodies around the watershed. This committee hopes to connect them all, especially those operating at the lake’s north end.

The new WQC’s main areas of concern include:

Stream Monitoring: Understand the water quality issues of each lake tributary, and prioritize attention needed to help remedy these issues. This includes data reporting, developing projects for restoration, and getting them funded and implemented with such partners as the Intermunicipal Organization of the Cayuga Lake Watershed, municipalities, the Finger Lakes Institute, and numerous researchers.

HABs: Understand Harmful Algal Blooms, and other algae issues. Promote research and solutions to protect Cayuga Lake’s water quality. Many algae forms appear in the lake and creeks each year, and people want to know about them. Some algae species may be more disruptive to lakeshore residents than HABs, but little information is available.

Invasives: Centralize information on Cayuga Lake’s aquatic plants, fish and other fauna; and aquatic invasive species including Hydrilla, Water Chestnut, and many others. This requires continued strong ties with the Finger Lakes PRISM (Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management), and working with sister organizations on other lakes.

Septic Practices: Review practices of each county in the Cayuga Lake watershed. Understand and share septic options for homeowners. Understand and communicate about onsite treatment, municipal sewer availability and WWT (wastewater treatment) plants on the lake.

Agriculture: Understand Best Management Practices for agriculture, where and why they are used and not used. Work with County Soil and Water Conservation offices, Cornell Cooperative Extension and other agencies to more effectively promote BMPs to farmers and other lakeside and creekside landowners. Review stormwater runoff issues and practices and their effect on road ditches and downstream water quality. Better understand and communicate about the looming impacts to farming and water quality from climate and global change and extreme weather events. Understand and communicate about the relationship between farming practices, nutrient runoff, and creek and lake water quality.

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Interface: Communicate with NYS DEC in Albany and at the Syracuse Hub and with researchers about the pending Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and related planning documents including the 2017 Cayuga Lake Restoration & Protection Plan; long-term monitoring plans for the southern shelf and eventually the entire lake; the HABS Action Plan for Cayuga Lake; and other documents.

The Water Quality Committee’s founding members are being finalized, and the WQC begins meeting this spring. You will find updates on their work via our community conferences, articles in this newsletter, and on our updated website. There they will soon have a significant presence, providing helpful information tools for the public, and a centralized online location for lake and creek water quality data and links.

Contact Bill Ebert wsebert@yahoo.com for information about the WQC. For information about the Network’s other committees, see our People page.