Country Living: What you do affects the water

Saturday morning was a time to discuss and learn about timely topics affecting those in the Skaneateles Lake Watershed.

To bring interested residents and officials together in a forum with breakout sessions on topics ranging from hydrofracking to erosion to pharmaceuticals in our water, Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County presented and hosted the Skaneateles Lake Watershed Country Living Conference 2010 at the Welch Allyn Lodge.

The conference was designed to inform people within the watershed of "opportunities for enjoying and managing residential, forest and rural properties for environmental quality and economic vitality."

Cosponsoring the event was the City of Syracuse Water Department as the city has a major stake in Skaneateles Lake -- a pure drinking water source for the city.

Along with things like hydrofracking, there are naturally occurring events and other human actions that can change water sources or the way water flows.

Erick Haas, a resources conservation specialist with the Skaneateles Lake Watershed Agricultural Program, presented a 40-minute program about lake shore and stream bank erosion control where he talked about how residents can preserve their shoreline and the things they do that cause changes in the water.

"What you do on your property directly affects the status of the lake," Haas told a group of interested residents. "When you fertilize your lawn, you're not just fertilizing your lawn."

Phosphorous in lawn fertilizers has the potential to run off in to streams and lakes, causing algae to grow. However, most lawns and gardens contain enough phosphorous and do not need a phosphorous laden fertilizer.

To put things into perspective, Haas said one pound of phosphorous in runoff can result in 500 pounds of algae growth.

If fertilizing lawns, pay attention to the numbers on the package -- the middle number is the phosphorous -- and be conscious that the amount of phosphorous is zero.

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