Jun 29, 2012 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.