Written by Kaitlin Fello and Rich Adams
Photo by D.E.C.
It’s Spring in the Finger Lakes, and has felt like it now for almost two months. Of course, we can never really be sure when a winter day will find us again, at least until May arrives. With 2021 being one of the warmest Spring we’ve seen in years, nuisance algae will hit Seneca Lake shores early this year and will begin to let off the foul smell we sometimes refer to as “rotten eggs”.
There are many species of this filamentous, attached algae, but the most prevalent in Seneca Lake are known as Cladophora and Spirogyra. These species of algae are different from the floating (or “planktonic”) forms of algae in that their cell assemblage structures are long and fibrous (can be several inches long), and they are attached to hard bottom lake surfaces, like rocks or wood. This algae is not invasive, but when it proliferates, it can be quite a nuisance.
In most summers, we see this nuisance algae detach from hard surfaces and wash ashore in late June or July, but you may see it early and in abundance this year. When the filamentous algae does reach your shores and begins to build up, the anaerobic conditions causes the conversion of sulfur compounds into smelly sulfides and other compounds, similar to anaerobic sewage. Although these conditions are temporary, lasting until the muck washes away in vigorous storm or wind events, they are a definite annoyance. Also, anaerobic conditions in water can harbor unwanted bacteria, so contact in these muck zones should be avoided.
There are a few ways to deal with this stinking issue quickly and quietly on your own property. One option is to rake the shoreline piles away from the water, spreading it out so it will dry rapidly, which will break the foul smell. These algae are also great for compost! They are full of the nutrients your compost needs to break down other organics in your compost pile. Proper layering of algae in composting is important, so be sure to learn more before moving ahead with this option. If you don’t have a compost pile to nurture, you might consider using algae as a fertilizer! Algae is made up of living organisms and breaks down quickly when added to soil, adding phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium.
Please visit the NYDEC Cladophora webpage to learn more about this nuisance algae.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is urging pet and aquarium stores and consumers to immediately remove and properly dispose of commercially purchased "moss balls" for aquariums after invasive zebra mussels were discovered inside and on some of these products, as reported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Consumers should be advised that moss ball products purchased from PetSmart and Petco may be subject to a voluntary product recall.
Read the rest of the D.E.C. article HERE
What happens around your home matters.
Small changes can make a big difference.
In May, 2020, we launched the new program, and we thank all of our members and watershed residents who took the pledge to be lake friendly using the resources and educational outreach Pure Waters and our partners provide.
And now, a year later, our focus on small changes continues and are amplified with the collaborative efforts by other Finger Lakes. Strength in numbers makes a big difference too!! Seven Finger Lakes (Canandaigua, Cayuga, Keuka, Otisco, Owasco, Seneca, Skaneateles,) have teamed up to promote Lake Friendly Living across the region. Together, as the Lake Friendly Living Coalition of the Finger Lakes, we are excited to announce our inaugural Lake Friendly Living Awareness Week, scheduled for May 2 - 8, 2021. The week includes a series of educational webinars on many topics with special experts. The webinars are free and open to the public. Registration is required. To learn more about the webinars and to register, go to www.flrwa.org/lake-friendly-living.
If your schedule does not allow for participation during Awareness Week, there are many other ways to learn and apply lake friendly practices. Start with our program resources at https://senecalake.org/LakeFriendlyLiving
Know that your efforts do make a difference and as you learn more and TAKE THE PLEDGE, be sure to share with friends and family. We offer Lake Friendly Living yard signs to show your support. Thank you for being Lake Friendly!
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Keep up with Pure Waters:
Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association
P.O. Box 247
Geneva, NY 14456