Written by Kelly Coughlin
With 38 miles of ever-changing conditions along its shoreline, Seneca Lake is under the watchful gaze of residents around the lake, including 40 intrepid volunteers who help with baseline and storm monitoring of Seneca Lake streams--Big Stream, Catharine Creek, Kashong Creek, Reeder Creek, and Keuka Outlet.
Assessing water quality conditions is one of the key pillars of Pure Waters’ efforts. We accomplish this work through several comprehensive water quality monitoring projects that include stream sampling and cyanobacteria (HABs) monitoring. Since 2014, we have been monitoring trends in stream water quality to evaluate the impact of streams on Seneca Lake. With the help of a dedicated volunteer team, water samples are collected from more than a dozen sites across the watershed. Samples are analyzed for bacteria (E. coli), total suspended solids, nutrients such as nitrate-nitrite and phosphorus, and water temperature. This year, Pure Waters began its sampling for the season a bit earlier than prior years, on March 15, to better capture the impact of runoff from snowmelt. A second baseline event is scheduled for June, and we’ll also be targeting two high flow events following rainstorms, hopefully this spring or early summer. Tests are conducted by our laboratory partner Community Science Institute, visit their website to see the latest Seneca Lake water quality test results along with an interactive map of sampling locations.