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Environment

Effort underway to improve Skaneateles Lake water quality

Skaneateles_Lake.jpg
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

The public will now have a chance to chime in on what can be done on land to improve the water quality of Skaneateles Lake.

The Skaneateles Lake Watershed spans almost 60 square miles and includes three counties, seven towns, and one village.

Aaron McKeon, an environment program manager with the CNY Regional Planning and Development Board, said that area, not the water itself, will be the focus of putting together a strategy to improve the lake.

"The watershed planning process is intended to figure out issues and opportunities in the watershed itself… which can contribute to the overall water quality," said McKeon.

Members of a Watershed Advisory Committee will use the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Nine Element Plan to help them identify sources of pollution and make a plan to reduce those pollutants.

McKeon said it’s a non-regulatory process that will use mathematical models to simulate future conditions. From there, the committee will work to figure out which strategies may be the most effective.

"Hydroseeding, stream restoration, buffer establishment, septic education. These are all the kinds of programs that are going to help promote water quality and help ensure that we're all doing what we can for the lake," said McKeon.

McKeon said industrial pollutants are not a big concern with Skaneateles Lake. The focus will be more on maintaining appropriate levels of phosphorous and nitrogen. The potential effects of climate change will also play a role in the modeling process.

“The Nine Element Plan process helps all of the players unlock additional funding. It helps boost, say, applications to entities like the Department of Environmental Conservation, and it puts real numbers to projected outcomes,” said McKeon.

McKeon plans to have two more public meetings in the fall and winter, when members of the Watershed Advisory Committee can present their report and recommendations.