Intermunicipal Organization Water Quality Issues Identification

As part of the Cayuga Lake Watershed Management Plan process, the Intermunicipal Organization Water Quality Issues Identification Session was held in March 1999. The session was split into two parts: visioning and specific issues, impairments and sources of data.

Part 1: Visioning

Participants were asked imagine that they return to the Cayuga Lake Watershed after an absence of 20 years. The watershed management plan is in place. Each person was asked to name three specific attributes of the lake or

watershed (water quality related) that they would like to see. Responses were clustered into broad categories (human uses, lake ecology, control of inputs, and tools).

Each respondent was asked to rank the issues as Priority 1, 2 or 3. The data summary includes a total score for each comment based on the priorities. Priority 1 was assigned 3 points, Priority 2, 2 points and Priority 3, 1 point. These results are included in the "weighted rank" column next to each specific comment.

From the rankings, it is clear that protection and improvement of the lake as a recreational resource (swimming and aesthetic) and a source of high quality drinking water are the highest priorities. Public access to the lake is also a high priority.

Part 2: Specific Issues, Impairments, and Sources of Data

As the second exercise, each of the four tables (southern lake and watershed, mid-lake and watershed, northern lake and watershed, and lake-wide, watershed-wide) focused on identifying specific water quality issues. Guided by a facilitator at each table, the groups created a matrix of sources of pollution, type of pollutant, water quality impacts, uses affected, and any data sources for documentation.

Whenever possible, the group identified the specific location in the lake or watershed where the pollution source was an issue. Maps of the specific lake and watershed segments were marked with numbered dots. The numbers correspond to the numbered responses presented in the tables.

The following series of tables records the specific responses provided during the meeting.

Table 7.1.5.1 Part 1: Visioning

Category

Subcategory

Weighted Rank

Comment

Human uses: Recreational

(total 63 points)

Swimming

17

11 Swimming at Stewart park in Ithaca
1 Clean safe swimming at the south end of the lake
2 Swimming everywhere in Cayuga Lake
3 Swimming at Stewart Park and other public beaches
Recreation

4

2 More recreational use available in watershed
2 Health condition of lake for recreation
Access

19

15 Improved public access
2 Development of access with sensitivity to fragile systems
2 Unrestricted access for all recreational needs (i.e. access to lake and minimal growth of weeds)
Aesthetic

12

3 Reduced algae blooms
3 Much less weed growth for all recreational uses
2 Increased post-storm transparency
2 Preservation of aesthetics/scenic beauty
2 Aesthetic beauty of lake preserved, including tranquillity
Noise

5

2 Less noise from watercraft
3 Noise pollution from jet skis for example
Fishing

6

3 Excellent fishing opportunities
1 Pan fishing with public access (for children etc.)
2 Fish at Fall Creek
Human uses: Water supply

(total 23 points)

Drinking water quality

23

19 High quality drinking water source
2 Less sediment in lake for municipal water use
2 Protection of public drinking water sources
Human Uses: Economics

(total 8 points)

Economics

7

3 Sustainable economics
2 Economic development: develop a plan to help use the lake to improve the economy
2 Quality of life among agricultural and urban sector
Land ownership 1 1 Native Americans don’t get control of 64000 acres around north end of Cayuga Lake

Category

Subcategory

Weighted Rank

Comment

Lake Ecology

(total 50 points)

Water Quality (not specific to any use)

18

5 Lake quality maintained as it is now, no degradation
7 Improved water quality
1 Find no pollution in Cayuga Lake basin
2 Improved protection of ground and surface water
3 Lake in near pristine condition
Natural resources

17

3 Natural resource for all
3 Clean water providing healthy watershed dependent ecosystems and good human drinking water
4 The ecosystem within the lake is healthy
2 Cleaner environment
1 Healthy lake for flora and fauna
3 All tributaries healthy
1 Beaver control
Control of weeds

7

3 Reduce/eliminate the seaweed in the lake
2 Reduced algae and other weeds in the lake and good fishing
2 Clean water and fewer weeds
Exotic species

3

2 Elimination of exotic species such as milfoil and control of vegetation in general
1 No new non-native species and a noticeable reduction in previously established ones
Fish community

5

1 Re-appearance of the sturgeon in deep water
1 A healthy fishery and ecosystem
2 Salmon fishing in Salmon Creek
1 Fish spawning in Fall Creek and Cayuga Inlet
Tools for Preservation

(total 12 points)

Open space and scenic vistas

12

5 Preservation of open space (agriculture and public lands)
3 Maintain scenic vistas via land use regulation, planning
1 Aesthetics of more open areas for the general public
3 Significant tracts of open space in the full variety of habitats are preserved, both in the watershed and along the majority of the lakeshore.

Category

Subcategory

Weighted Rank

Comment

Management and regulatory tools

(total 17 points)

Water level and flooding

7

1 Flood control (water level management) to help reduce erosion
1 Manage lake levels appropriately for recreational use
2 Flood-prone areas are under better control
3 Water supply systems improved to allow better water level management
Regulation of shoreline construction 1 1 No further construction on the lake perimeter and some buildings gone.
Implementation funding 1 1 $ to implement plan
Land use planning

8

3 Controls on development
1 Better land management
2 Balanced management plan
1 Zoning and health laws enforced, septic systems etc.
1 Use of best management practices and land use planning that considers and protects the environment long-term
Control of Inputs

(total 28 points)

Wastewater management

11

3 Properly running wastewater treatment plants
2 Programs for residual sewage
2 Municipal water system and sewer around the lake
1 Control of wastewater discharges from public or private sources (no pathogens)
2 No lake-related industry potentially damaging to the lake
1 Regional wastewater treatment programs
Agricultural

5

3 Agriculture thriving in the southern basin, with reduced sediment and nutrients
1 Progress for agricultural runoff
1 Preservation of agricultural economy with controlled erosion and sedimentation
Erosion and sedimentation

11

3 Less sedimentation pollution of south end
2 Control erosion
3 Beach areas no longer eroded
1 Reduced sedimentation
2 Sediment control from runoff
Nonpoint sources 1 1 Lawn care, fertilizer, herbicides

Table 7.1.5.2 Part 2: Specific Water Quality Issues

Group 1: Northern Basin, Northern Watershed

SOURCE

TYPE

ISSUE

USE

DATA

(1) Nonpoint source of TCE Volatile organic compound Drinking water Drinking water County health and DEC
(2) Water level drawdown Water level management Biotic habitat Habitat alteration DEC, DOT
(3) Inadequately treated domestic sewage Nutrients, bacteria, oxygen demand Smell and bacteria Aesthetic

Water supply

Bridgeport
(4) Canoga Creek area Sediment Turbidity Water supply Treatment plant reports
(5) Agriculture and residential runoff Nutrients in water Weeds, water clarity Boating, drinking water  
(6) Exotic species (rudd and zebra mussel) Transplanting Water quality and filtration of microorganisms Food chain Dave McNeil at Brockport
(7) Septic systems Nutrients, bacteria, oxygen demand Water quality, algae, aquatic vegetation Navigation Ray Oglesby
(8) Marinas Organic chemicals gas/oil etc. Toxic substances Water quality drinking swimming Visual observation
(9) Stormwater runoff Road-side ditches Turbidity Water quality drinking swimming Visual observation

Part 2: Specific Water Quality Issues, Group 2: Mid-Lake, Mid-Watershed

SOURCE

TYPE

ISSUE

USE

DATA

(1) Stewart Park Runoff from Fall Creek Water is filthy and polluted Swimming  
(2) Sewage treatment plant Effluent running to lake Affects aquatic life in streams Aquatic life DEC
(3) North end Nutrients and possibly pathogens Water fowl Drinking and recreation None
(4) Hog farms Nutrients (nitrogen), odors Nutrient loading and aquifer Recreation and drinking water None
(5) Building marina Scenic, safety More cars, sewage Neighboring properties, cove  
(6) Deans Cove Stream Sediment Sediment loading Recreation and drinking  
(7) Milfoil Introduction of exotic species Recreational use, disruption of ecosystem Swimming, boating  
(8) Zebra mussels Introduction of exotic species Drinking water intakes Drinking water, recreation  
(9) Lamprey eels Depletion of fish supply Fish community Fishing, recreation  

Part 2: Specific Water Quality Issues, Group 3: Southern Lake, Southern Watershed

SOURCE

TYPE

ISSUE

USE

DATA

(1) Rapid storm runoff Sediments and nutrients Lack of transparency, lack of infiltration, increased sedimentation, aesthetics (smelly) Swimming

Boating

Drinking

Fishing

USGS

Cornell LSC

Milliken

(2) Wastewater treatment plants Biochemical oxygen demand. Phosphorus and nitrogen, pathogens Algae blooms

Transparency

Weed growth

Fishing

Recreation

Drinking water

 
(3) Oil spills (Jacksonville leak, Fall Creek and Inlet spills) Petroleum products Ground and surface water quality, ecosystem degradation, fish productivity, general ecosystem health Fishing

Recreation

Drinking water

 
(4) Private septic systems Bacteria

Nutrients

Chemicals

Pathogens

Groundwater pollution Drinking water  
(5) Abandoned landfills (Trumansburg area, Cornell low-level radioactive, etc.) Heavy metals, petroleum Surface water and groundwater (localized in watershed), wildlife Drinking water

General water quality, Environmental health

 
(6) Lawn and garden overuse of pesticides and fertilizers Pesticides and fertilizers Water quality

Turbidity

Wildlife

Drinking water

Recreation

Wildlife

 

Part 2: Specific Water Quality Issues, Group 4: Lake-Wide, Watershed-Wide

SOURCE

TYPE

ISSUE

USE

DATA

(1) Sediment streams and agricultural runoff (south end) Nutrients

Pathogens

Pesticides

Sediment./fill-in

Degraded water quality

Clarity decrease

Recreational use

Human health

Drinking water

Fishing

USGS

Health depts.

(2) Treatment plant Phosphorus

Nitrogen

Metals

Coliform

Giardia and Cryptosporidia

Viruses

Pathogens

Drinking water source

Recreational use

Metals in fish

Drinking

Swimming

Recreational use

Special project

(Coliform data not that great)

Treatment plant (age and efficiency)

(3) Lake level Erosion and sedimentation

Inundated septics

Water supply systems

Salt water

Concentrate contaminants

Mosquitoes

Increased turbidity

Affect water supply issues

(including algae due to septics)

Recreational use

Access to homes

Recreation

Navigation

Drinking water

Fish population

Canal Corp

Citizens around the lake

(4) Camps in floodway with unregulated septic systems Pathogens

Nitrogen

Phosphorus

Coliform

Similar to wastewater treatment plants Swimming

Boating

Drinking water

Public health

Insects

Cayuga County DOH

Other health departments?

Smaller political subdivisions (code enforcement people?)

(5) Industrial use of the lake Thermal

Ionic (chlorides)

Temp. degradation, biosides, phosphorus transfer Swimming,

Fishing

Drinking

NYSDEC, SPDES permits, reports.
(6) Commercial and residential development around the lake Runoff

Impervious surfaces

Infrastructure (bring in water and sewer)

Erosion

Degraded water quality in lake

Loss of natural infiltration

Loss of open space

Open space

Lack of public access

Increased noise pollution

General water quality

Decreased agriculture

Building permits

Zoning boards

Home Builders Associations

Remote sensing

Aerial photos (historical)

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