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Keuka Outlet, Big Stream will get more tests ADVERTISEMENT

Keuka Outlet, Big Stream will get more tests

TRI-COUNTY AREA--After a study showing phosphorous levels in Seneca Lake tributaries are exceeding Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) guidance levels, the Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association (SLPWA) will expand its monitoring program in 2015. The study that previously included Catherine Creek, Big Stream which passes through Dundee and Reeder Creek, will now also consider Keuka Outlet and Hector Falls Creek for similar testing in 2015. The group also plans on increasing the sampling sites in the streams it currently monitors while also monitoring the lake to establish baselines for various lake pollutants.
The SLPWA stream monitoring program in collaboration with the Community Science Institute of Ithaca has shown that three streams flowing into Seneca Lake have phosphorus and bacterial contamination above the level recommended by the DEC for good water quality. The pilot stream monitoring program was funded by grants from the Tripp Foundation and Freshwater Future and SLPWA members.
"Our results should concern everyone who lives, works or plays on and in the lake, or gets drinking water from the Lake," said Mary Anne Kowalski, SLPWA president.
Phosphorus concentrations in Catherine Creek, Big Stream and Reeder Creek all exceed the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation guidance levels of 0.02 mg/L of phosphorus which undoubtedly accounts for the increases in algae blooms and weed growth along Seneca Lake shorelines. "We have noted increased reports of algae blooms and seaweed near the outlets of these streams," said Edwin Przybylowicz, SLPWA stream monitoring coordinator.
According to the SLPWA, if left unabated this will result in the eutrophication of the lake. These results confirm the earlier results reported by Professor John Halfman in his 2011 update of the Water Quality of Seneca Lake report which showed that the phosphorus content in Seneca Lake was increasing yearly. As Halfman points out in this report, once phosphorus gets into the lake, there are no natural processes which remove the phosphorus. It must be removed through water flow out of the lake. The report claims minimizing input of phosphorus into the lake is important.
The SLPWA says bacterial contamination measured in these streams is also a concern for any contact recreational activities such as swimming or boating. While the bacteria levels are reduced as the streams get diluted in the lake waters, it is important to identify and mitigate the point sources of bacterial release to the streams.

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