This ultimately resulted in an all-out effort to control the weeds with chemical treatment. While chemical treatment has made significant improvements, it is only a temporary solution to the problem.
Once you stop treatment, all the decomposed weeds — together with nutrients that continue to come from the septic systems — will produce weed growth of Biblical proportions.
A critical issue that needs to be understood is that septic systems are not designed to remove phosphorus, the key nutrient that enhances weed growth. Septic water that goes to a tile field slowly filters through the ground and moves down gradient and, over time, the phosphorus ends up in the lake.
While it can be argued that storm water is a greater threat than septic systems, we cannot control the amount of rainfall, but we can control septic waste by installing collection sewers.
We, of course, should continue to reduce the impact of storm water wherever possible, such as using lawn fertilizers without phosphorus.
People argue that the quality of the water is excellent — and that may be true — but the reason is because of the weeds and algae in the lake. They are using the excess phosphorus and organic material as food to grow, which helps maintain the water quality. Each body of water has a certain capacity to absorb a certain amount of pollutants.
It was not long ago that the village of Cazenovia discharged raw sewage directly into Chittenango Creek, yet the water quality remained high for miles below the point of discharge. That is because all the rapids and Chittenango Falls created a perfect aeration system that treated the waste until it got past the village of Chittenango, where the stream travels more slowly.
Today, it would be unthinkable to allow raw sewage to be discharged in the Chittenango Creek. Twenty years from now, people will wonder how we could have allowed septic systems to surround Cazenovia Lake.