DEC releases 2017 water quality statistics
FINGER LAKES--The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) is responsible for reporting on the condition of water resources in the state, including more than 16,000 lakes, ponds, and reservoirs, to meet state and federal monitoring requirements and address multiple data needs. With such a large number of freshwater resources, the DEC acknowledges that more information is needed than can be collected by staff resources alone. Most lake management activities are locally-led initiatives in NYS, but require collaboration between engaged lake residents and government officials to effectively evaluate and manage water quality problems.
The Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program (CSLAP) is a partnership between NYSDEC, New York State Federation of Lake Associations and lake residents who help monitor and collect critical lake data in a manner consistent with other NYS programs. This information is used to understand lake conditions, to develop lake management plans, and to meet monitoring requirements mandated by the Federal Clean Water Act and NYS Environmental Conservation Law.
Through a new initiative, Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program (CSLAP) volunteers monitored 22 locations on the 11 Finger Lakes in the summer of 2017, representing the first synoptic look into the water quality of all the Finger Lakes since the late 1990s. Combined, the dataset collected in 2017 was large and comprehensive (as an example, 340 observations of total phosphorus were successfully collected and analyzed). Field data and user perception observations, as well as, water quality samples and indicators of harmful algal blooms (HABs), including algal toxin samples were collected. Lake trophic state was evaluated and specialized forms of dissolved nutrients were successfully piloted. Quality control results with paired field duplicate samples showed acceptable comparability between volunteers and NYSDEC staff, providing assurance that the data collected through CSLAP is of sufficient quality to aid NYSDEC in making accurate assessments and important management decisions to protect the water quality of these valuable natural resources.
In 2017, the Finger Lakes represented a moderate cross-section of the range of water quality conditions in NYS. The 11 Finger Lakes tended to have better water quality, compared with smaller lakes in the Finger Lakes region.
With the DEC data, this is a summary of the Finger Lakes' water quality considering improvement or degrading:
Lakes showing continual water quality improvement since the 1970s
1. Keuka Lake
2. Canadice Lake
Lakes showing slight improvement since 1990
1. Conesus Lake
Lakes showing degrading since the 1990s
1. Canandaigua Lake
2. Seneca Lake
3. Cayuga Lake
4. Skaneateles Lake
5. Otisco Lake
6. Hemlock Lake
7. Honeoye Lake
Lakes remaining stable without much change
1. Owasco Lake (2017 did show slightly higher chlorophyll-a )
Compared with other NYS lakes, the Finger Lakes tended to have:
1. average to low concentrations for total phosphorus, chlorophyll-a, and color;
2. average to high clarity (Secchi depth);
3. low nitrogen concentrations in the western Finger Lakes and high nitrogen concentrations in the eastern Finger Lakes;
4. high chloride, calcium, pH, and specific conductivity; and
5. more susceptible to HABs than other lakes with similar water quality conditions.
The complete DEC report is available online at https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/water_pdf/fl17nochpt.pdf.