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New study says Seneca Lake is declining

    SENECA LAKE—A new Seneca Lake Watershed Management Plan will be released March 5, which says the quality of the lake has slipped in the last seven years.
    The plan will serve as a long-term strategy for the protection and restoration of water quality and ensure environmentally compatible land use and development. Seneca Lake is the largest of the eleven Finger Lakes that make up a complex system of lakes and rivers in central New York state known as the Oswego River Basin.  A draft copy of the report is available online at
    According to the draft study, Seneca Lake ranked its personal worst as far as water quality in the last seven years.  The study said for 2011, Seneca Lake ranked fifth out of eight Finger Lakes.  Seneca Lake ranked just worse than Owasco Lake, which was marked worse than Seneca the year before.  The study said differences in water quality were due to the degree of water quality protection, the percentage of  agricultural land, the amount of precipitation and other factors in each watershed.
    Land activities and water quality are inherently linked to one another. The type of activities that take  place on the land will directly influence the quality and characteristics of the water that runs off of it.  Understanding the characteristics of the land within a watershed area is therefore a central aspect of  watershed planning.   According to the study, 42.2 percent of the Seneca watershed is used in agriculture, either crops or livestock.  Another 27.5 percent is residential properties.
    One potential threat to the lake’s water quality is existing or changing land use patterns.  The study said things like residential development may disrupt the ecosystem.
    The watershed planning process will build upon previous studies and reports, including “Setting a Course for Seneca Lake, the State of the Seneca Lake Watershed” (1999). The Seneca Lake Watershed Management Plan will establish a consensus among the watershed municipalities, state agencies, and nongovernmental organizations on actions needed to protect the lake’s water quality.




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