“To change ‘what is’ into ‘what should be’” ~unknown

Research In The Watershed


Numerous government and private agencies and institutions are currently aggressively involved in researching causes and implementing projects to help improve the overall quality of Owasco Lake and its 208 square mile watershed.

OWLA provides volunteers and supports numerous projects in and around Owasco Lake. Here are just some of groups OWLA is working with on behalf of the Lake:

A Program of Nearshore Measurements
to Advance the Understanding of
Harmful Algal Blooms in Owasco Lake, NY

Prepared by:
Upstate Freshwater Institute
224 Midler Park Drive
Syracuse, NY 13206

SUNY-Environmental Science and Forestry
1 Forestry Drive
Syracuse, NY 13210

The DEC Finger Lakes Water Hub was created by Governor Andrew Cuomo to address water quality issues and develop new policies, programs and technologies to ensure clan drinking water for all New Yorkers. The Finger Lakes Hub is based at the NYSDEC’s Region 7 Office in Syracuse but works throughout the Finger Lakes. Anthony Prestigiacomo is the Hub scientist and point contact for Owasco Lake.

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The Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart William Smith College’s John Halfman, Professor of Geolimnology & Hydrogeochemistry; Inaugural Finger Lakes Institute Endowed Chair in Environmental Studies; and Department of Geoscience & Environmental Studies Program has been actively involved In research throughout the Finger Lakes for a number of years.

Read more about Dr. Halfman’s work on Owasco Lake

The Upstate Freshwater Institute (UFI) is also dedicated to the protection of the Finger Lakes, as well as the other freshwaters of the state. UFI has been involved in studies of the Finger Lakes, with particular emphasis on the eastern lakes, for twenty years (15 peer-reviewed publications and 26 reports).

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Cayuga County Department of Planning and Economic Development has issued the Owasco Lake Watershed Management and Waterfront Revitalization Plan which was approved by the NYSDOS on March 30, 2016.

The Owasco Lake Watershed Management and Waterfront Revitalization Plan (the Plan) examines the present state of Owasco Lake and its watershed, how water quality and habitat conditions are changing, and the challenges of meeting community goals for continued use and enjoyment of this valued resource. In light of this assessment, the Plan recommends specific actions needed to restore and protect Owasco Lake and its watershed for future generations.

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Cayuga County Department of Planning & Economic Development is aggressively moving forward with the development of a 9 Elements Plan as part of Cayuga County’s efforts to identify sources of pollution and stop blue-green algae from blooming in Owasco Lake.

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Cornell University, the Finger Lakes Water Hub, Cayuga County and OWLA are supporting development of the Owasco Lake Watershed 9 Elements Plan

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The Owasco Lake Watershed Rules & Regulations Update Project

The Owasco Lake Watershed Rules & Regulations Update Project is an important water quality initiative being undertaken by the Owasco Lake Watershed Management Council. The project goal is to update and revise the 1984 Owasco Lake Watershed Rules and Regulations, through a thoughtful and engaged public participation process resulting in effective and equitable watershed regulations that will help to improve, protect and preserve water quality within Owasco Lake and it’s 205-square mile watershed for the benefit of current and future generations.

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Harmful Algal Bloom’s Project

The Harmful Algal Bloom’s Project consists of DEC staff within the DOW Lake Monitoring and Assessment Section who work to identify bloom status, oversee HAB monitoring and surveillance activities, communicate public health risks, and conduct outreach, education, and research.

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Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program (CSLAP)

The Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program (CSLAP) is a volunteer lake monitoring and education program that is managed by DEC and New York State Federation of Lake Associations (NYSFOLA). Trained CSLAP volunteers collect lake data following approved methods. The data are added to the statewide lake database to help detect changes in water quality over time.

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Deep Water Macroinvertebrate Community Assessment

Owasco Lake was identified in a 2006 study as supporting the worst water quality among seven Finger Lakes (Halfman and Bush 2006). The study raised concern regarding the health of the lake, citing high nutrient levels, high phytoplankton biomass, and low water clarity.

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Owasco Lake Watershed Inspection Program

The Mission of the Owasco Lake Watershed Inspection Program is to make regular and thorough inspections of Owasco Lake, its watercourses and its watershed to ascertain compliance with the Rules and Regulations of the Owasco Lake Watershed and to provide educational outreach to the watershed community to foster lake stewardship.

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Cayuga County Soil and Water Conservation District

As the result of petitions and resolutions submitted to the Cayuga County Board of Supervisors (today the County Legislature) by the Farm Bureau, Grange, Dairymen’s League, and other farm organizations, the Cayuga County Soil Conservation District was formed on August 8, 1944. Cayuga County is well known for its abundance of productive farmland and high quality water. The foresight of the governing body to protect the natural resource needs located within the County proved to be a good investment. Agriculture is the predominant economic engine of the County.

Over the past 70 years, we have expanded to include Wastewater Management, Nutrient Management, Stormwater Management, and Erosion and Sediment Control Programs.

Today we are the local agency that many community members and government agencies “go to first” with their environmental related problems and concerns. We take pride in not only listening, but getting things solved.

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What can you do to HELP?

Protecting Owasco Lake is essential to the maintenance of our community character and the improvement of our economic future. We encourage everyone to help the Owasco Watershed Lake Association personally and/or financially. By this commitment you will help keep Owasco Lake clean and safe.