Tim Sellers Ph.D of Keuka College has been keeping a close eye on Keuka Lake over recent years, collecting data on a number of conditions that point to the lake’s health. At the Keuka Lake Association annual meeting July 13, he reported on the state of the lake, saying nutrient levels (phosphorus) are down, clarity is up, and algae is reduced.
Standing before a slide that showed favorable data for all three properties, he said, however, that lake dwellers should expect more suspicious harmful algal bloom events this year.
Keuka and Skaneatles Lakes continue to be the healthiest of the 11 Finger Lakes according to Sellers. A graph that tracks the three characteristics over the 27 years between 1991 and 2018 shows the overall trends moving the lake from Mesotrophic to Oliogotrophic. The trophic state of a lake is determined by the amount of biological nutrients in the water. An oligotrophic lake has a relatively low nutrient content, conditions that support specie such as lake trout. A mesotrophic lake has medium level nutrients with submerged aquatic plants.
Maria Hudson reported on the four lake monitoring programs conducted by the KLA:
• Water sampling and monitoring at 16 sites in open water and along shorelines, a program that has been conducted for 20 years.
• 2019 is the third year of KLA’s participation in the Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program.
• Stream water quality in four large streams at eight sites to monitor input
• Shoreline monitoring. This is a new program in 2019
The data collected through these monitoring programs will be used in identifying and quantifying the pollutants entering the lake.
Mark Morris, vice president of the KLA reported on progress toward a 9-Element Plan. This extensive plan is required to be eligible for state funding to improve water quality. A $350,000 grant has been secured to develop a plan over three years. KLA is working in partnership with Seneca Lake Pure Waters, Keuka Watershed Improvement Cooperative, Yates and Steuben County Soil & Water Conservation Districts, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Keuka College, Finger Lakes Institute, and other organizations.
An Aug. 12 Keuka Lake Water Quality Summit is part of the community engagement toward the 9E plan. The summit will be held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Keuka College.
Laura Bailey, natural resources educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Yates County presented information about Lake-Friendly Living, including a booklet that outlines 15 practices to help preserve and protect the lake.
Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike and Steuben County Sheriff James Allard talked about navigation patrols, and Environmental Conservation Officer Josh Crain reported on various state Department of Environmental Conservation activities.
For more information about KLA, visit www. keukalakeassociation.org.