Skaneateles Lake health and water quality best it’s been in years

New report to town board shows positive changes

The Skaneateles Lake Association’s milfoil removal boat and volunteers working on Skaneateles Lake in 2011.

The Skaneateles Lake Association’s milfoil removal boat and volunteers working on Skaneateles Lake in 2011.

— Skaneateles Lake is cleaner, clearer and has less invasive species in it today than it did five years ago, according to a new report by the Town Lake Monitoring Committee.

“The results, frankly, were very encouraging,” Bob Werner, committee member and a retired professor from the State University of Environmental Science and Forestry, told the town board at its June 21 meeting. “There is a positive slope to the data” showing phosphorous, nitrate and chlorophyll levels have decreased while water clarity has increased. “The good things [in the water] are going up and getting better, and the bad things are going down.”

The latest lake monitoring report was the third presented by the committee since its inception in 2006. Previous reports were issued in 2007 and 2008, and the intention moving forward is for lake monitoring every third year that will “allow for detection of trends in water quality and provide guidance in mitigating any negative effects on the lake,” according to the 2011 report’s executive summary.

The findings were made by the Upstate Freshwater Institute, which took lake samples at a single mid-lake station just off Mandana from May 5 through Oct. 28, 2011.

The reduction of phosphorous, nitrate and chlorophyll levels means less algae and more oxygen in the lake, which creates improved lake health.

The improvements are attributable to numerous things, such as better technology and environmental awareness of agriculture and construction industries operating within the lake watershed, new septic systems in lakeside homes that produce less lake pollution and just a generally better awareness of all people to “be careful with the lake,” Werner said.

Werner, joined by Skaneateles Lake Association President Paul Torrisi and member Fran Rotunno Fish, also informed the board of the state of milfoil removal in the lake and the status of other invasive species.

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