People who study the Earth see that Earth’s climate is getting warmer. Earth’s temperature has gone up about two degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century. This may not seem like much. But small changes in Earth’s temperature can have big effects. Changes to Earth’s climate driven by increased human emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases are already having widespread effects on the environment: glaciers and ice sheets are shrinking, plant and animal geographic ranges are shifting, localized rain events are increasing, and plants and trees are blooming sooner.

Do you wonder what the effect of Climate Change has on Owasco Lake? The 2023 Bob Brower Scientific Symposium in “Plain English” will address this subject on Saturday, March 11, 2023, from 9am – till noon at the Auburn Public Theater. Through the generosity of the Brower family, the Owasco Watershed Lake Association (OWLA) is organizing this free annual Scientific Symposium in “Plain English”.  The New York Chapter of American Water Works is offering three Continuing Education Units to Professional Engineers and Water and Waste Treatment Operators who attend. To make this available to as many as possible we are offering options to attend in person or from anywhere virtually. Go to to register and chose your option for this hybrid event. This event will be of interest to the general public, school groups and anyone who drinks the water from Owasco Lake.

Leading off the morning’s presentations will be New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Region 7 Director, Matthew Marko, P.E. Matt will speak on Climate Change Impacts on Watersheds: How New York is Rising to the Challenge for Owasco Lake. He will talk on the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) and give a scope of future planning and tools being developed. The Owasco Lake 9 Element Plan’s lake model will be mentioned as a guidance tool for resiliency to climate change as well as the present vulnerabilities from the impact of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs).

Next, Dr. John Halfman, professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and research scientist at the Finger Lakes Institute will present  Status of Owasco Lake – 2022. Professor Halfman has spent more than a decade investigating water quality trends, nutrient loading issues and the drivers for cyanobacteria blooms in the Finger Lakes. His talk presents data and observations from mid-lake and shore monitoring during 2022.

Behavioral Science of Agricultural Practice Change is the title of the talk to be given by the Evidn team of Katri Haantera and Marissa Jordan. Evidn is an international behavioral science company that specializes in the design, delivery, and evaluation of large-scale programs that create sustained change. They lead behavioral change projects in New York State across agriculture and sustainability sectors. A large focus of Katri’s work is delivering behavioral science skills training and capacity building with local watershed organizations. Marissa specializes in community engagement and helps drive positive change and cooperation between multiple agencies. Together they will share learnings and insights from applying key theories and frameworks which are useful for identifying attitudinal and behavioral drivers and barriers. A case study of the Our Owasco behavioral change project will demonstrate a community driven approach towards increasing the adoption of soil health management practices in the Owasco watershed.

Dr. Andrew Brainard’s talk: A change is going to come, but will we know? The value of long-term lake monitoring will round out the morning’s presentations. Andrew is a Senior Research Scientist with the Upstate Freshwater Institute focusing on how freshwater ecosystems are impacted by human activities, including invasive species, climate change and emerging contaminants. Long-term lake monitoring is essential to document changing conditions, including trends in lake trophic indicators and water temperature observed in New York lakes.

Since 1988, OWLA has been a citizen-based guardian of Owasco Lake and its Watershed. OWLA is a hands-on, boots dirty, take action not for profit organization. We do whatever we can to help protect and restore Owasco Lake. We educate and inform at every opportunity. We invite you to join us at the 2023 Bob Brower Scientific Symposium in “Plain English”. We exist because local people like you care enough about the Finger Lakes to want to make a difference. If this sounds like you then go to to learn more.

Written by Ann Robson, President of OWLA Board of Directors and Founding Board Member.