Special to The Citizen

Do you drink the water of … recreate in … profit from tourism connected to … or live on or near Owasco Lake?

If you answered yes to any of the above, the Owasco Watershed Lake Association invites you to join in protecting, preserving and improving Owasco Lake. With an annual membership, you are able to become part of needed solutions.

OWLA is a nonprofit, volunteer organization whose members dedicate their time and energy to raising funds and working on projects designed to improve the quality of what is our area’s greatest asset.

A student who swims, fishes or cares about Owasco Lake can join for $5 a year. Individuals who drink water taken from Owasco Lake can take advantage of the single membership for $25 a year. Family groups are offered an annual membership for $50. Sentinel memberships at $100, guardian level at $250, defender at $500 and champion at $1,000 round out the various membership levels offered to any and all who care for Owasco Lake.

Not a regulatory group, OWLA works with all residents of the watershed by designing, funding and working on various projects to ensure a healthy future for our Finger Lake. Projects include protecting the hemlock trees, funding for ditch remediation, educating area youth, building a rain garden at Emerson Park, testing both deep water and upstream, and reporting harmful algal blooms.

OWLA volunteers hunt the hills and ravines throughout the watershed for hemlock trees affected by the deadly wooly adelgid. Identification of these trees is followed by professional treatment, which is funded by OWLA. The hemlocks are vital to the health of Owasco Lake, as they prevent soil and nutrient runoff that feeds the harmful algal blooms.

The various towns in the watershed receive monies from the Cayuga County Soil & Water Conservation District for ditch remediation, with OWLA offering to supplement this funding so that 100% of the cost is covered. This remediation is essential, as ditch runoff is responsible for approximately 20% of the nutrient found in the lake.

Educational presentations at Auburn Junior High and Tyburn Academy feature Owasco Lake facts and good practices. All of the program’s participants, including teachers, OWLA volunteers and students, understand that our youth deserve a healthy Owasco Lake in their future and need to join the community by participating in solutions.

Building a rain garden at Emerson Park has given OWLA volunteers an opportunity to work with watershed residents. The garden is an example of community members gathering together to enhance the health of the lake.

Essential to the continued improvement of the lake is deep water and upstream testing. This testing is done for several months a year by dedicated OWLA volunteers who venture out in boats for deep water testing or trudge upstream for samples, with results sent to appropriate authorities.

Throughout the summer months, OWLA volunteers can be found walking the beach areas looking for any sign of harmful algal blooms. Weekly reports, including any needed pictures, are emailed to the state.

As OWLA continues to expand its projects and collaborate with partner organizations, its mission is to be the voice of Owasco Lake and actively participate in projects designed to restore our watershed and improve water quality for drinking, recreation and tourism.

Please join us by becoming a member. Our success greatly depends on showing community support as we reach out to foundations for financial help needed to support our projects. You can be part of the solutions by joining at