Have you noticed a change in aquatic plant coverage near the shoreline of the lake? Is your swimming hole or dock inundated with unfamiliar "weeds"?
PRISM, or the Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management of the Finger Lakes is looking for volunteers for this summers monitoring program. Over the past few years, Pure Waters' volunteers have worked with PRISM to monitor the lake for aquatic invasive threats. But with many encroaching threats to Seneca Lake, we need more coverage and that means more volunteers!
Volunteering with this program is simple, and you'll learn about the "weeds" that have become a problem in the lake. Volunteers monitor every two weeks during the months of June to October. This can be right from your dock! No experience necessary!
Please consider volunteering with this very important effort. In order to find solutions for the invasive species that threaten Seneca Lake, we first need to understand them! It all starts with monitoring!
More Information: www.fingerlakesinvasives.org/invasive-survey
Sign up to Volunteer: Click Here or email email@example.com
Listen in to hear Ted Baker speak with Jacob Fox, Town of Geneva Climate Smart Coordinator, as they discuss the Town's sustainability programs and on the upcoming Virtual Farming Symposium!
Finger Lakes National Heritage Area- Feasibility Study
by Dan Corbett
The National Park Service is conducting a study to determine the feasibility of designating the Finger Lakes region as a national heritage area. Public input is being sought and is open until June 1st. Seneca Lake Pure Waters strongly encourage our membership and other stakeholders to participate and support this initiative. We believe that the founding of the Finger Lakes National Heritage Area would be very much in alignment with our mission to Preserve and Protect Seneca Lake. The link below will take you to a page offering more information and the opportunity to directly provide your inputs.
Click here to submit your comments
National Heritage Areas (NHAs) provide economic benefits to communities and regions through their commitment to heritage conservation and economic development. Through public‐private partnerships, NHA entities support historic preservation, natural resource conservation, recreation, heritage tourism, and educational projects. Leveraging funds and long‐term support for projects, NHA partnerships generate increased economic impact for regions in which they are located.
Case studies demonstrate that NHAs are valuable economic contributors to the local regions and states where they operate. The partnerships they create and facilitate, and the efforts put forth by each organization truly make a difference in their communities. Each serves as a vital part of the local and regional economy contributing millions of dollars annually and sustaining jobs.
Please act on this today!
Seneca County Agricultural & Farmland Enhancement Plan
By Val Sewell and Erin Peruzzini (Seneca County SWCD)
Seneca County received a grant from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (Ag & Markets) to update its Agricultural and Farmland Enhancement Plan with the Seneca County Agriculture Enhancement Board (AEB) serving as the Steering Committee for the effort. The AEB is being supported by the County’s Department of Planning and Economic Development, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and Soil and Water Conservation District. The Ag Enhancement Plan will be used as a roadmap to detail the efforts needed to enhance agriculture, identify who should be involved and describe how to implement such efforts.
As stipulated in the Ag & Markets grant, Seneca County procured a consultant with knowledge of rural/farmland protection planning issues to help coordinate the development of the plan with the AEB. The consultant, selected through a Request for Proposals and rigorous interview process, is Community Planning and Environmental Associates (CP & EA). This consultant has over 26 years of experience working with communities in New York State and has assisted ten other counties in New York to develop their Ag Enhancement Plans. Its role is to facilitate the process, provide technical expertise in areas of community input, data collection, geographic information system (GIS) mapping, and development of the full plan. CP & EA will also draft a vision and goals and recommend actions for consideration by the AEB.
In the fall of 2020, CP & EA, under the auspices of Seneca County, conducted an online agricultural survey to gather information to better understand where and what type of farming is being done in the county, and to learn more about the interests and perspectives of the general public, farmers and farmland owners, and businesses that support farmers. The survey, which closed in early December 2020, received responses from 104 members of the general public, 78 farmers, 31 farmland owners who rent to farmers, and 15 agri-businesses.
Highlights from general public respondents to the survey include:
Issues of concern
Farmland owner issues and opportunities for enhancement include:
Agri-business issues and enhancement highlights include:
In addition to summarizing the results from the online survey, CP & EA conducted 11 interviews to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOTs) to Seneca County’s agricultural community and farmlands.
From the perspective of Seneca Pure Waters, it is heartening to see that water quality concerns are frequently identified as important by those canvassed in the survey and interviewed. Seneca County has approximately 26 miles of shoreline along Seneca Lake and approximately 107 square miles of Seneca Lake watershed area that can benefit from thoughtful farmland conservation and controlled development. The Ag Enhancement Plan will likely include recommendations related to long-terms preservation of land (easements for example), soil management for farming, environmental health, climate resiliency, and use of best management practices for controlling water pollution.
The consultant will be working to pull together a draft Ag Enhancement Plan that will highlight tools to deal with the challenges identified through the information gathering and data collection processes with an updated vision and goals for the county. After the draft is reviewed and cleared for public comment by the AEB, a public information meeting will be convened in late summer. After the AEB signs off on the final plan, the County Board of Supervisors must approve the plan. Ultimately, the Plan must be submitted to the State Commissioner of Agriculture for approval.
Interested in learning about how farmers can be paid for soil health and other ecosystem services? Join the Town of Geneva and the Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association for our upcoming Virtual Farming Symposium at 3:00m, March 31. Registration is required! Register here
Finger Lakes Times. March 16, 2021
GENEVA — The town of Geneva and Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association are teaming up to present a farm symposium virtually later this month. It’s scheduled for 3 p.m. March 31 via Zoom.
The Seneca-Keuka Lake Watershed-based symposium will focus on the payment for ecosystem services and carbon-capture programs that pay farmers to sequester carbon on a regional and national scale.
Yates Recommends Disapproval of Greenidge Bitcoin Expansion
Jacob Welch, President, Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association
In a five to three with one abstention vote, the Yates County Planning Board recommended disapproval of Greenidge's bid to expand its Bitcoin mining operation in Dresden, New York, on the basis that the expansion would not be in the best interest of Yates County.
Some 140 letters and emails in opposition were received before the meeting. “That's a record” said Daniel Long, Yates County Planner. The meeting was attended by Pure Waters President Jacob Welch, Joseph Campbell of Seneca Guardian and Mary Ann Kowalski of the Committee to Preserve the Finger Lakes, among over 60 community members. All three environmental leaders spoke in opposition to the expansion which, even today, still lacks any environmental study to verify that the allowed 134,000,000 gallons per day of water and allowed warming of up to 108 degrees Fahrenheit does not have an adverse environmental impact. DEC regulations only allow for 70 degree Fahrenheit discharges into trout streams. Keuka outlet, which absorbs the discharge and at a place close to Seneca Lake, is so categorized.
Attorney Kevin McAuliffe, of the Barclay Damon law firm, spoke on behalf of Greenidge. He indicated that the facility, inclusive of the proposed expansion, would discharge warmed water well within "parameters established" by the DEC. Pure Waters President, Jacob Welch, retorted that the 134 MGD/108 degree allowances were established in 2017 and under a specific DEC plan that a thermal study would also have to be conducted by Greenidge. That was at a time when Greenidge was supplying power to the grid and therefore subject to lightened regulatory standards. Welch also alluded to a more recent Greenidge letter advising that its environmental study would not be finalized until the Spring or early Summer of 2022. Mr. Welch also brought to the board's attention that there was still a lack of proper fish screens on the water intake even after these many years.
The County Planning Board’s disapproval recommendation of the expansion sends the matter back to the Town of Torrey Planning Board. Pursuant to General Municipal Law 239, the five member board must renew its look into matters and, based on the County recommendation, now pass the measure by a majority plus one vote. Seneca Pure Waters will continue to oppose the expansion until such time that engineer based studies and proper measures are in place to preserve and protect our lakes environment.
Bitcoin prices have recently been priced over $34,000 a piece. Electrical generation facilities are to implement best available technology standards when affordable. Based on what appears to be astronomical profits being made daily at the plant, cooling towers as well as proper fish screens should be implemented. Greenidge is also a subsidiary of Atlas Holdings, a multi -billion dollar holding company.
Department of Environmental Conservation 2020 Seneca Lake Fish Surveys
Dan Corbett, Vice President of Water Quality
Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association
Members of Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association recently met with representatives of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to review the fish survey work done during the 2020 season. Brad Hammers, the Region 8 fisheries biologist, explained the work that was conducted and his initial impressions of the work. The formal data entry and quality checks are ongoing, and information should be included in the statewide data base by the end of January. More detailed analysis and results from these surveys should be available sometime in the spring; Brad has agreed to help us to disseminate that information.
A fairly extensive set of surveys was planned for 2020 to address concerns expressed by fishermen and lake users. The Covid pandemic and work practice uncertainties resulted in a late start to the survey season, but happily most of the work was completed. DEC plans to conduct these major fish surveys every 3-4 years on key lakes.
Preliminary Summary of Findings
Shallow water surveys targeting warm water species were done for the first time on Seneca Lake. There have been many concerns from anglers about a drop off of fishing success for many of the warm water species (perch, bass, pike, and other pan fish). The pandemic resulted in a delayed start to this work (late June). This is nighttime electro shocking from boats, near shore, and the primary species targeted were bass and yellow perch populations. You may have noticed the activity of lighted boats along the shore during late evening hours. Fifteen to 18 sites were sampled, from the north, south and central lake shore regions. Roughly 60-70% of the bass found were smallmouth versus largemouth and they were generally in good condition. Bass numbers were not as high as seen in Keuka Lake, but may be about average for New York lakes. Perch numbers were quite low, which may be due to the late seasonal start and warmer water temperatures. All species found are recorded during these surveys. While minimal sunfish were found, alewives and bullheads were plentiful.
Smallmouth Bass pictured
Deep water netting surveys primarily targeting lake trout were done for two weeks in July. This type of sampling has been done since the 1970s. Thirty-two sites around the lake were sampled at a depth where 50°F temperature meets the lake bottom, and then deeper (at and below the thermocline). Good numbers of lake trout were found, and they were in good condition with minimal lamprey marks. Most were stocked fish, evidenced by a clipped fin, indicating only 20 - 25% natural reproduction. Lack of natural reproduction fits with the high numbers of alewives as a food source, and the early mortality syndrome caused by thiamine levels.
Forage netting (0-45 feet) was done for two weeks in September and showed a very high level of alewives – the highest in the cold-water western Finger Lakes. No round gobies were found in any of the surveys, and remain unconfirmed in Seneca lake.
Sampling (electro shocking) of Catharine Creek was done during the spring spawning run, as has been done in past years. Good numbers of fish were seen and were generally in good shape. However, fish were heavily marked by lamprey eels. Lamprey larvae surveys were done in Catharine Creek, the Watkins Glen canal, and the Keuka Outlet delta area near Dresden. No larvae were found at the Keuka Outlet delta, but were found up to Pine City in Catharine Creek, and in the Watkins Glen canal. Lampricide treatment is planned for 2021, which is typically done every 3 years.
Stocking of lake trout will likely be increased due to low levels of natural reproduction. Brown trout were heavily stocked in 2020 and will likely not be stocked in 2021. Atlantic salmon (pictured) will continue to be stocked at similar levels. Rainbow trout are stocked in Catharine Creek each year at a level of approximately 10,000.
Fisheries management plans are being developed for all the Finger Lakes. There will be an overall regional plan, and a plan for each lake, hopefully early in 2021. We’ll keep an eye open for that as it will contain good information on the current fishery status and future plans.
Monitoring Seneca Lake Water Quality from the William Scandling
John Halfman, Professor of Hydrogeochemistry
Dept. of Geoscience and Environment Studies Program
Hobart & William Smith Colleges
You may have wondered, what is that large, chunky vessel that routinely plies the waters of Seneca Lake? It’s the William Scandling, owned and operated by Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS). Formerly a buoy tender for the US Navy, then a lobster boat, HWS purchased the vessel in 1976 and converted it for teaching and research use on Seneca Lake and occasionally other waterways connected to Seneca Lake via the NYS Barge Canal System, e.g., Cayuga, Oneida, and the lower Great Lakes. The 65-ft long, steel-hulled, single screw vessel is operated by a licensed captain, who is assisted by a single crew member. Its hydraulic boom and winch can deploy and retrieve scientific equipment from all depths in the lake. Because the vessel is licensed through the US Coast Guard for educational and research purposes, it cannot be used as a tour or “party” vessel.
The William Scandling‘s primary function is to meet the teaching and research needs of the Colleges, an opportunity rarely found at other undergraduate institutions across the nation. Students can learn about the physical (waves, currents, etc.), chemical (dissolved ions, pH, etc.), biological (plankton, invasive mussel species, etc.), and geological (sediments, environmental history, etc.) properties of the lake. Introductory and advanced level courses use the vessel. In addition, upper-level students may conduct faculty supervised independent research projects. Those outside the Colleges, including participating Science on Seneca high schools, colleges, universities, other teaching/research groups, and selected (ex)presidents and senators, are invited to use the William Scandling for their own programs.
Educationally, I use it in many of my courses, especially a course on Limnology, the study of lakes. Besides specific research projects, I’ve also maintained, with significant student help, a long-term monitoring effort since the mid-1990’s that collects and analyzes water samples during the ice-free season at four prescribed sites in the north portion of the lake. It provides a golden opportunity for students to learn state-of-the-art techniques to assess basic water quality parameters, e.g., the plankton, water clarity, temperature, salinity, pH and dissolved oxygen, and determine how the lake has changed over time. I also allow interested folks to participate. Feel free to email me if you’d like to join me on one of these trips.
One example outcome of the monitoring effort is a multi-decade time series of surface water temperatures. See the graph below. The data clearly reveal that the lake has warmed (~0.2°C/year) since 1995, a warming induced by global warming. Also of interest, cyanobacteria (HABs) blooms have been detected since 2015, when the lake has been at its warmest. Has warmer water facilitated the onset and continuation of nearshore HABs events? Unfortunately, correlation does NOT prove causation. 2020 detected the warmest water on record yet it experienced the fewest number of detected blooms in Seneca Lake. 2020 also detected the warmest water in Owasco Lake, HOWEVER it experienced the largest number of blooms. Go Figure!
Surface water temperatures of Seneca Lake since April, 1995 through October, 2020. The dashed line reveals the best fit linear relationship of the temperature data.
Listen in to Kate Monacelli, Finger Lakes Institute's Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Project Manager as she discusses existing invasive species in Seneca Lake as well as encroaching invasive threats. Learn what techniques are being used to mitigate the spread of invasives and how you can get involved to help stop the spread!
Visit Finger Lakes PRISM website to learn more about Invasive Species and active programs in the Finger Lakes.
— Although the Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association shares concerns of those who have filed a lawsuit against the town of Torrey and Greenidge Generation LLC over the expansion of the Greenidge bitcoin mining project, the association is not a plaintiff to the litigation.
SLPWA President Jacob Welch, in a letter to members, explained why SLPWA hasn’t joined The Sierra Club, Seneca Lake Guardian, the Committee to Preserve the Finger Lakes and 30 individuals.
Keep up with Pure Waters:
P.O. Box 247
Geneva, NY 14456