|Agricultural Practices (A)||Development (D)||On-site Wastewater Systems (O)||Stormwater Runoff (SR)||Wastewater Treatment (WW)|
|Drinking Water (DW)||Tourism and Other Economic Development (T)||Water Quality Standards (WQS)|
|Water Quality (WQ)||Exotic species (ES)||Fertilizers and Pesticides (F)||Heavy metals (H)||Phosphorus and Nutrient Loading (N)||Organic compounds (OC)||Pathogens (P)||Sediment (S)|
|Comprehensive Planning (C)||Education (E)||Economic Revitilization & Sustainability (ER)||Infrastructure (I)|
Agriculture is a dominant land use in the Cayuga Lake watershed. As reported in the Preliminary Watershed Characterization Report, approximately one-third of the direct drainage is in active agricultural usage. Dairy farming is a major industry; about 57% of the agricultural lands in the watershed are dedicated to livestock and products, and 42% are in field crop production. The largest dairy farms are located in Cayuga County. As measured in sales, field crop production is concentrated in Seneca and Cayuga Counties.
Agriculture is an important economic and land use partner in the watershed. The highly valued open space and beautiful vistas in the watershed are a direct result of agriculture shaping the landscape. However, County census data reveal that a diminishing percentage of the work force is directly involved in agricultural production. This decrease reflects the dramatic trend away from the family farm and towards increased size and mechanization of farming operations. At the same time, increasing numbers of watershed residents are choosing to live outside of the more densely populated areas. The result is that rural residents are increasingly isolated from the realities of farming operations and less tolerant of inevitable odors or inconvenience.
The economic and technological trends promoting larger farming operations can increase the challenges associated with careful management of soil and water resources. Even the most environmentally conscious producers are faced with handling an excess of nitrogen and phosphorus; that is, more nutrients enter from feed, fertilizers and (for nitrogen) legume fixation than leave via milk, meat, or crops. The excess increases with the number of cows.
The primary pollutants of concern in the Cayuga watershed are nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen), sediment, animal waste, and pesticides. As discussed in the Cayuga Lake Preliminary Watershed Characterization (exit this site), these pollutants of concern may originate from many sources including residential lands and urban stormwater. Nutrients, sediment, animal waste, and pesticides can migrate from agricultural lands to surface and ground water through processes including surface runoff, erosion, infiltration, and aerial drift.
Monitoring data confirm that agricultural pollutants reach the surface waters (both the tributary streams and the lake) and groundwater of the Cayuga watershed. Phosphorus and sediment are pollutants that degrade the quality of surface water resources. Nitrate-nitrogen, due to its high solubility, is a contaminant of special concern in groundwater. Monitoring data confirm the loss of pesticides to streams and their presence in lake waters. Left unchecked, migration of agricultural pollutants threatens the long-term health of the lake and watershed.
The Cayuga Lake watershed is large and diverse, exhibiting a mixture of geologic conditions, topography, soil types, and land use throughout its 785 square miles. As part of the Restoration & Protection Plan (RPP), these characteristics were compiled for 19 subwatersheds and simple models were applied to estimate the relative loss of nutrients and sediment. The analysis, coupled with available monitoring data, has resulted in identifying groups of subwatersheds with high, moderate, or low potential to contribute agricultural pollutants to surface and ground water.
The subwatersheds with the high potential for losses of agricultural pollutants are considered "areas of concern", specific locations where restoration and protection efforts will result in improved water quality conditions.
It is important to note that this analysis was performed at a watershed-wide scale, not a parcel-specific scale. Individual practices such as crop rotations or location and timing of manure spreading will affect nonpoint source pollution from agriculture. The analysis highlights areas where environmental conditions such as soils and slopes combined with land use pose the greatest potential for nutrient and sediment loss.
Potential for Nonpoint Source Pollution (Based on Annual Loading per Unit Area)
Yawger Creek (including Yawger Tributary)
Subwatershed 68 (Interlaken)
Recommendations/Specific Actions :
The four most critical issues in this watershed in need of BMPs are: nutrient management, erosion control, manure management, and herbicide application.
Each farm should develop a specific nutrient management plan under the tiered AEM program. The nutrient management plan will include specific recommendations tailored to individual producers. Nutrient management plans may include the following elements:
Many of these recommendations are consistent with practices currently underway on the larger dairy farms in the Cayuga watershed. The Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) regulations, which currently apply to larger livestock operations, provide a framework for developing and implementing parcel-specific recommendations for cultivation, cropping, and manure spreading practices designed to minimize environmental impact. The CAFO approach could be tailored for smaller livestock producers. Some elements of the CAFO approach could be used to make nutrient management plans for crop farms more site-specific.
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CLW IO 2004