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Owasco Lake Watershed needs better management now.
There is increasing evidence that Owasco Lake water quality is deteriorating. The harm caused by elevated levels of phosphorous and other non-point source pollutants has been well documented. This is not generally a human septage related problem, but more directly related to erosion, run-off from suburban and rural land use activities, and sedimentation. The county septic testing program has been reasonably successful in controlling human coliforms from entering the lake. The growing issue is nutrient loading in the streams entering our lake. Owasco Lake has noticeably more algae, weed beds and has recently experienced periodic odors and unpleasant taste in drinking water. Failure to implement comprehensive storm water management practices, including sustainable suburban land development and restorative agricultural management, unwillingness to protect riparian zones with substantial buffers of mixed perennial vegetation, increased runoff from less pervious surfaces, and reluctance to implement regenerative storm water conveyance are contributing toward degradation the lake's water quality.
OWLA (Owasco Watershed Lake Association) is dedicated to continue expanding our work in restoring and preserving water quality in Owasco Lake and its watershed. We have met various challenges head-on, and have had numerous victories and accomplishments, during the past 23 years.
Despite our efforts, Owasco Lake has continued to decline in water quality in recent years. Zebra mussels, Asian clams, Quagga mussels, and water fleas have invaded the lake. Abundant ragweed, curly-leaf pond weed, Elodea, green algae, blue-green algae, and copious amounts of floating foam have added to the problems. Summer of 2011 is coming and the saga and worries continue.
There is, however, some good news!. OWLA spearheaded the plan to form the Owasco Watershed Management Council. This is a new group of legislators from Auburn, Cayuga County, the town of Owasco, and surrounding townships that have united to do whatever is necessary to preserve Owasco Lake. This Council was formed in December, 2010 and will begin its work immediately. Water testing by Dr. John Halfman will monitor our progress. OWLA is an integral part of this new structure and will continue to act as an advisor and “watchdog.” Drastic measures must be undertaken. The focus of this council must be to stop the nutrients from entering Owasco Lake. I repeat stop the nutrients from entering Owasco Lake. To do this, we must accomplish 4 goals.
1. Restore portions of Owasco Flats to its natural nutrient filtering capacity (piece by piece).
2. Work with landowners and farmers in the watershed to preserve stream banks and establish buffers along their course to stop these nutrients from entering.
3. Continue to work with townships around the lake to establish uniform rules and regulations that will be beneficial to the watershed.
4. Work with state legislators to implement new regional legislation to preserve the entire Finger Lakes region. OWLA must continue to be the driving force behind this operation. We need your help now! Become a member of OWLA — go to www.owla.org. Meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the first Wednesday of the month at Springside Inn.
No one else will fight this battle for us, except you and I. We must aid and instruct this newly formed Owasco Watershed Management Council (which we are a part of). Owasco Lake must be saved! Thank you in advance for joining us. Joseph L. Wasileski