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.

— The SLA’s milfoil eradication project has removal 40 acres of milfoil (an aggressively invasive aquatic plant that spreads quickly and forms large, dense mats of floating vegetation) from Skaneateles Lake since 2007, and at the end of 2011 identified only one major milfoil patch of about five acres left to remove, Werner said. Milfoil removal crews have been in the lake since late May, and expect to clean up the last patch by the end of summer, he said.

“After that, there will be only relatively small patches [of milfoil] left throughout the lake to take care of, and we’ll have this thing relatively under control,” Werner told the board.

Torrisi then told the board that while the milfoil eradication project has been successful, there are still other, even more invasive aquatic species that can enter the lake if there are no preventative procedures put in place. Specifically, the SLA is concerned about hydrilla plants, which can grow from six to eight inches a day once they are established in an environment, and Asian clams, which release phosphorous into the water and therefore stimulate algae growth. Both of these species have been identified in surrounding lakes, although not yet in Skaneateles Lake, and are typically introduced through contaminated boats, Torrisi said.

In order to prevent the introduction of these and other invasive species into Skaneateles Lake, the SLA is seeking town cooperation in taking preemptive actions as soon as possible. The group’s idea is for increased education and prevention at major lake launch sites, such as placing informational signage, having trained attendants at each launch site to approach boaters about possible boat contamination, and, perhaps eventually, to create boat cleaning stations around the lake.

“This could be costly, and we certainly don’t want to discourage boating,” Torrisi said.

The town board members were all pleased and impressed by the Lake Monitoring Committee’s report on current lake health, and also signaled their support for the SLA’s suggested actions. “All of these are good suggestions that we have to follow through on,” said Councilor Nancy Murray, who is also the board’s liaison to the SLA.

The board agreed to move forward to look into the implementing the suggested actions. Town Attorney Patrick Sardino, in response to a question for Town Supervisor Terri Roney, said no formal resolution was required for the board to take action.

The Skaneateles Lake Monitoring Committee’s 2011 report will soon be posted on the town website. The committee’s 2007 report can be found at townofskaneateles.com/conservation.

Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at editor@skaneatelespress.com.

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