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Keuka Lake nears lowest level on record ADVERTISEMENT

Keuka Lake nears lowest level on record

KEUKA LAKE (8/17/16)--Those who frequent Keuka Lake are seeing the impacts of the drought, as water levels are nearing the lowest levels on record. Keuka Lake Association (KLA) President Dennis Carlson said the lake is having one of its lowest water levels for this time of year. He added it is closing in on a record low, which was set in 2005 at 713 feet and three inches.
The lake is at 713 feet and 5.3 inches as of Friday, Aug. 12. Carlson attributes this to the fact there has not been much significant rainfall in the area recently. The area is also currently under a drought warning imposed by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which extends throughout much of Western New York.
Referring to the lack of rain, Dr. John Halfman said rain and runoff bring nutrients to the lake, and nutrients bring algal growth. As a result, Halfman said this year has seen an increase in water clarity due to the decrease in algal abundance in many Finger Lakes.
The water in Keuka Lake is also warmer than it typically gets this time of year. While Carlson said the association does not have the same data for water temperatures they do for lake levels, he claimed the current temperature is "one of the warmest ever." Sitting at 86 degrees as of Friday, Aug. 12, Carlson said the water is close to nine degrees warmer than normal.
"It is extremely warm," Carlson said. "That's like bath water."
According to the KLA website, temperature readings are taken from the water intake at the Penn Yan water treatment plant on the east branch approximately 20 feet down. Carlson noted there has been a fair amount of turbulence in the lake this year due to high winds, adding this helps mix the water in the lake.
Carlson attributes these high temperatures to the fact there have been several weeks of bright sun, few clouds and high temperatures this summer. The president said 2014 was another warm year for the lake, but saw its temperature spike in June and July at 83 degrees. He said it was around eight to nine degrees cooler than it is now in August of that year.
Halfman said Keuka typically warms to 80 degrees out in the middle of the lake each year, adding it was as warm as this year in 2009.
"My gut reaction is 85 is not too much warmer for surface temperatures to radically change the ecology of the lake," Halfman said.

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