for a

Cayuga Lake Watershed Monitoring Plan

Date: 8 November, 2000


Clifford W. Callinan, P.E., NYSDEC,

Phone: (518) 457-0733


William Kappel, USGS

Phone (607) 266-0217


The Cayuga Lake Watershed Monitoring Plan Framework was developed by the Cayuga Lake Watershed Intergovernmental Organization’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). The Framework is intended to provide guidance for development of a Long-term Monitoring Plan for the Cayuga Lake Watershed. Furthermore, the Framework, and ultimately the Long-term Monitoring Plan, are intended to supplement the Preliminary Cayuga Lake Watershed Characterization Study (2000) and the Cayuga Lake Watershed Restoration and Protection Plan (in development), by providing the necessary information for the protection of the Cayuga Lake watershed into the foreseeable future.

I. Introduction

Cayuga Lake is one of the largest lakes in New York State (fifth largest on the basis of surface area). The lake and its surrounding watershed support a wide range of human activities. The lake itself serves such disparate purposes as water supply and waste assimilation, while the watershed supports activities ranging from agriculture to industry. The lake and surrounding watershed are also a complex and important aquatic ecosystem. Activities within the watershed play a crucial role in determining the health of Cayuga Lake. The long-term health of the lake is dependent upon finding a proper balance between activities within the watershed and the ability of the lake to accommodate those activities on a sustainable basis. Defining and maintaining such a balance requires the implementation of a sound and sustained watershed monitoring program. Effective stewardship of such a complex ecosystem is not possible absent a thorough understanding of the system.

The development of a Watershed Monitoring Plan (Monitoring Plan) for Cayuga Lake should begin with a thorough assessment of previous and ongoing investigations within the basin. This retrospective study should evaluate and catalog all pertinent data and information on the lake and watershed. The Preliminary Cayuga Lake Watershed Characterization Study (2000) provides an overview of several past investigations, however, a more comprehensive effort may be warranted. Additional discussion of such a retrospective study is contained in Chapter 5 below.

Cayuga Lake has been monitored sporadically over the past century. Initial water quality investigations of the lake were conducted by two Wisconsin researchers during the early 1900s (Birge and Juday, 1914) in conjunction with their investigation of all of the Finger Lakes. This early work, albeit limited by the available tools of the day, provide important historical data about the lake. Since that initial foray, numerous other investigations of the lake have taken place. Studies conducted during the late 1960s and early 1970s resulted in publication of Lakes of New York State – Volume 1: Ecology of the Finger Lakes – Limnology of Cayuga Lake (Oglesby, 1978). Since the 1970’s the lake has been the subject of several additional investigations, including: (1) Studies associated with Cornell’s Lake Source Cooling project, and (2) New York State Department of Environmental Conservation study of the Finger Lakes. In addition to the lake itself, a number of tributaries within the watershed have a relatively long history of monitoring. For example, nutrient sampling has been conducted on Fall Creek for approximately 30 years (Bouldin, ?). In addition, there is a significant ongoing investigation of the Six Mile Creek watershed.

A number of the monitoring activities mentioned above are still underway, and several additional studies are on the drawing board. Given the current level of interest within the watershed, and the number of monitoring initiatives currently (or soon to be) in progress, this represents an ideal opportunity to establish an integrated Monitoring Plan for the watershed. Resource limitations make it imperative to look for ways to optimize existing and future monitoring activities. The Monitoring Planning process should look for opportunities to network and build upon existing monitoring activities within the basin, and to leverage available resources. Furthermore, the Monitoring Plan should focus upon addressing specific informational needs within the watershed.

The Monitoring Plan should be designed to answer questions of who, what, where, when, why, and how. For example: Who will be responsible for conducting the monitoring program (will it be run by lay volunteers, professional personnel, or a combination of both) ? Who will have access to the data collected ? What parameters will be monitored (and what methods and/or protocols will be used) ? What monitoring indicators will be used to assess water quality ? Where will monitoring activities occur (and will monitoring sites be permanent or temporary) ? Where will the data be housed ? When will monitoring occur (and should it be a one time or continuing effort) ? Why are certain monitoring activities occurring (and other activities not occurring) ? How will the monitoring program be funded and sustained ? How will the information be made available (Internet, library system, etc.) ?

This document is intended to establish a framework for answering these and other relevant questions. The Monitoring Plan is divided into 4 components as follows: (1) Lake, (2) Tributary, (3) Ground water and (4) Other Relevant Information. The first three components are further segmented into physical, chemical, and biological elements. While components are detailed separately below, it is essential that all components function as an integrated whole. For example, the nutrient level of a lake is an important determinant of its trophic status. However, the nutrient concentration within a lake is largely controlled by nutrient inflow from the lake’s tributary system, and while nutrient loading is often dominated by storm-event flows, ground water discharge is also a factor due to its role in controlling the base flow of streams. Thus, attempts to assess the dynamics of lake trophic status are intimately related to tributary inputs, ground water discharge, and the activities taking place within each sub-watershed.

Several additional documents which were consulted in the development of this monitoring program, include: (1) The Lake and Reservoir Restoration Guidance Manual (EPA, 1990), (2) Lake and Reservoir Bioassessment and Biocriteria Technical Guidance Document (EPA, 1998), (3) Diet for a Small Lake (NYSDEC, 1990); and (4) Field Guide for Collecting and Processing Stream-Water Samples for the National Water-Quality Assessment Program (USGS, 1994). Other possible resources include monitoring plans from other lakes.

 II. Purpose and Objectives

The purpose of the Cayuga Lake Watershed Monitoring Plan is to initiate collection of the necessary information to support effective stewardship and management of the lake and surrounding watershed. Specific objectives of the Monitoring Plan should include the following:

  1. Gather baseline water quality data (both current and historical where available) and define ambient water quality conditions for the lake and tributary system.
  2. Define historical trends in water quality.
  3. Determine compliance with applicable water quality criteria.
  4. Assist in the identification of pollution sources.
  5. Provide the necessary information to assess the assimilative capacity of given water segments.
  6. Provide necessary data for the development of mass loading estimates and computer simulation models.
  7. Enable effective prioritization of sub-watersheds.
  8. Evaluate the effectiveness of water quality management activities.

As mentioned above, the Monitoring Plan Framework, and eventually the Long-term Monitoring Plan, are intended to supplement the Preliminary Cayuga Lake Watershed Characterization Study and the Cayuga Lake Watershed Management Plan. The Framework, and eventually the Monitoring Program, will act to supplement and update the Characterization Study. The linkage between the Monitoring Plan and the Management Plan should be iterative (see Figure 2), and reflect the dynamic nature of the watershed.

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III. Lake

Cayuga Lake acts as a sink for contaminants released within the watershed and those reaching the watershed through atmospheric transport. As with any lake, Cayuga Lake by definition is the lowest point within its watershed. Thus, given that water flows down gradient, materials released within the watershed are transported to the lake via tributary flow. Furthermore, Cayuga Lake receives flow from Seneca Lake which itself receives inflow from Keuka Lake. While Cayuga Lake is naturally equipped to "assimilate" some level of contamination, its ability to effectively assimilative wastes (assimilative capacity) is inherently limited. Therefore, a primary focus of any lake monitoring program must be to track and assess water quality conditions within the lake.

Design of a lake monitoring protocol (monitoring sites, analytes, sampling frequency, etc.) should address the following: (1) identify and assess issues of concern within the lake, (2) provide sufficient spatial and temporal resolution, using appropriate statistical measures, to accurately characterize conditions within the lake, and (3) collect the necessary supporting information to understand lake dynamics.

Identification of issues of concern within the basin should begin with a thorough review of past studies (e.g., Cayuga Lake Watershed Characterization, Priority Waterbody List for the Oswego-Seneca-Oneida Basin, etc.). These previous studies should provide a reasonable overview of existing concerns within the basin. Recommendations for further retrospective investigations can be found in Chapter 5, below. Additional perspective may be gained by examining available databases and Geographical Information Systems (GIS), which can assist in defining the "universe" of potential contaminants within the watershed. For instance, a listing of the hazardous waste sites and associated contaminants within the watershed can help in defining which contaminants could conceivably reach the lake. While past investigations can provide valuable insight regarding issues of concern within the basin, additional study is warranted in most instances due to: (1) limited scope of previous efforts; and (2) dynamic nature of lake systems coupled with the need to assess temporal trends.

Selection of lake monitoring locations and determination of sampling frequency should be premised upon achieving an accurate characterization of the entire lake. As a general rule, the number of monitoring sites selected (or spatial representation) should be based upon the level of heterogeneity (physical, chemical, and biological) within the lake. Given the basic morphometry of Cayuga Lake, characterized by relatively shallow north and south termini and a deep middle basin, at a minimum there should be monitoring sites at both ends of the lake and one or more sites within the main, deep-water portion of the lake. Water column sample collection at deep water sites should include both epilimnetic and hypolimnetic samples during stratification, whereas, a single sample is appropriate for shallow water sites (< 5 m) and deep water sites under unstratified conditions. Consideration should also be given to establishing greater spatial resolution within areas of the lake deemed to be impaired or at risk. Other issues which should be considered when choosing monitoring sites include historical monitoring activities (continuity considerations) and logistical considerations (e.g., proximity to institutions and/or boat launch sites). Monitoring frequency should likewise be guided by a desire to accurately characterize the temporal heterogeneity within the system. Recommended sampling frequency will vary depending upon the parameter of interest. For example, sediment core sampling might be limited to a single occasion. On the other hand, certain water column parameters such as chlorophyll a’ might require weekly or bi-weekly sampling. One final temporal issue which needs to be considered is the duration of monitoring at particular sites. Options include fixed (or index) sites and/or temporary sites. With a lake the size of Cayuga Lake it is often advisable to use a combination of the two approaches. A fairly limited number of fixed sites are established within the lake, which are monitored periodically throughout the year. These fixed sites provide a good level of temporal resolution and a reasonable level of spatial resolution. Spatial resolution is enhanced by conducting less frequent synoptic events on a greater number of "temporary" sites.

Given the reality of limited resources, the primary focus of the lake monitoring program will undoubtedly be on the specific issues of concern within the basin. While this is understandable and justifiable, it is important that a monitoring program remain sufficiently comprehensive for several reasons. First, it is important to understand the underlying mechanisms responsible for various water quality concerns. For example, consider the concerns regarding suspended sediment and phosphorus levels in the southern terminus of Cayuga Lake. While it is important to quantify the levels of these parameters within the south lake, it is equally important to assess the origins of these substances. This later charge will require an understanding of sediment and nutrient dynamics within the lake. This will entail collection of additional data (beyond merely existing concentration levels within the lake) including tributary information (e.g., stream flow and concentration of the parameters of interest) to quantify external loading to the lake, and meteorological information (e.g., wind velocity and direction) to assess resuspension. Second, the list of issues of concern within the basin are not cast in stone, and changes both within the basin and outside the basin could add or remove particular issues from this list. A monitoring program focused exclusively on "known" issues of concern is unlikely to detect new challenges to water quality. Thus, a long-term monitoring plan should be vigilant in assessing possible new threats to the lake, and revisit the issues of concern periodically.

Monitoring Plan elements should include physical, chemical and biological components within the lake. Once again, while these components will be discussed separately below, it is important to keep in mind the linkages between the various media specific components. A case in point being lake trophic indicators which are composed of physical, chemical, and biological indicators. The Monitoring Plan should also address both the water column and bottom sediments of the lake. Investigations directed at the water column provide a "snap shot" of current conditions within the lake, whereas, the bottom sediments provide a historical view of lake conditions. The following discussion will identify desired deliverables and the suite of parameters recommended for study.


Proposed deliverables from this portion of the Monitoring Plan should include: (a) Water Balance: understanding the hydrologic cycle within a lake is a crucial prerequisite to many other inquiries including loading estimates, mass balance modeling, etc. Furthermore, water quantity issues such as flood control and water level control require a thorough understanding of lake hydrology; (b) Residence Time: the time it takes for water to move through a lake has a bearing on water quality in several important regards. For example, residence time is an important determinant in the fate of suspended sediments and associated contaminants – in general, the longer the residence time the greater the opportunity there is for materials to settle out of the water column; (c) Energy Balance: solar radiation plays a central role in the primary productivity of a lake, and thermal stratification has a profound effect on the physical, chemical, and biological processes within a lake; (d) Circulation Patterns: processes, and (e) Particle Transport: dynamics (including sediment accumulation rate, sediment resuspension, etc.).

The physical parameters of importance within the water column of a lake include hydrologic and transport factors (e.g., inflow and outflow (both surface and groundwater), lake level, evaporation, current patterns, seiche activity, particle settling rates, etc.), thermal factors (temperature regimes, thermal stratification patterns, etc.), and water transparency factors (e.g., suspended sediment concentrations, turbidity levels, Secchi Disk depth, etc.).

Important physical parameters relating to the bottom sediments of a lake include sediment accumulation rates, sediment resuspension rates, and particle characteristics (grain size, porosity, density, etc).


Proposed deliverables from this portion of the study include: (a) Current Status: define current water quality conditions within the lake with respect to conventional limnological criteria and toxic contaminants,

(b) Trends: assess water quality trends within the lake for both conventional limnological parameters and toxic parameters, (c) Assimilative Capacity: assess the lake’s ability to sustainably assimilate chemical inputs – to include both the lake as a whole and selected portions of the lake, and (d) Contaminant Cycle: assess and define nutrient and contaminant cycling within the lake.

Chemical parameters of importance within a lake system include conventional limnological measures as well as toxic contaminants (organic and inorganic). A primary focus of water column monitoring activities should be to define and track the trophic status of the lake. Trophic indicators should include water clarity (actually a physical parameter), total phosphorus, and chlorophyll a’ (actually a biological parameter). Other conventional chemical parameters of interest include dissolved oxygen, pH, specific conductance, major ions, other nutrient parameters (e.g., nitrogen series, silica, and soluble reactive phosphorus), etc. While this effort is envisioned as largely focused on the water column, it would be of significant value to assess historical trophic trends within the lake through use of paleolimnological methods (e.g., sediment cores).

The other major chemical parameters of interest within Cayuga Lake fall under the category of toxic contaminants. Toxic contaminants include organic contaminants (e.g., chlorinated organics such as PCBs or DDT, current-use pesticides, trihalomethanes, etc.) and inorganic contaminants (e.g., metals, ions, etc.). This effort should involve investigation of both current contaminant conditions and historical contaminant trends within the lake. Investigation of current conditions would be accomplished by monitoring the water column, whereas, assessment of historical conditions would involve paleolimnolgical methods (e.g., sediment cores).


Proposed deliverables from this portion of the investigation include (a) Food Web: define the existing food web for Cayuga Lake and possible threats to it’s stability, and define the historical food web for the lake and evaluate major changes over time, (b) Nutrient Cycle: assess the biological portion of the nutrient cycle for the lake, (c) Exotic Species: monitor and assess the various exotic species (e.g., Zebra mussel, spiny water flea, Eurasian milfoil, etc.), and assess their importance to both the ecosystem and anthropogenic uses of the lake, and (d) Pathogens: monitor and assess pathogenic organisms (bacteria, parasites, etc.) within the lake and assess their importance to various uses of the resource.

The biological parameters of interest for this portion of the program include phytoplankton, zooplankton, fish (forage and larger), benthic organisms, macrophytes, and pathogens. Special emphasis should be afforded to the investigation of exotic organisms which can present significant challenges to the stability of aquatic systems.

 IV. Tributaries

The tributary system of Cayuga Lake is the primary conduit for the delivery of required constituents, as well as, contaminants to the lake. Thus, effective stewardship and management of the lake requires a sound understanding of its tributary system. In addition, water quality conditions within the tributaries is of value in and of itself.

As with the lake monitoring component of the Monitoring Plan, design of the tributary monitoring protocol should be guided by similar criteria as follows: (1) identify and address issues and/or parameters of concern within the each sub-watershed – in this instance one must consider tributaries and the lake given the fact that the lake is acting as the receiving water, (2) provide sufficient spatial and temporal resolution to accurately characterize conditions within the tributaries, and (3) collect the necessary supporting information for understanding tributary and lake dynamics.

An appropriate starting point for the identification of issues of concern within sub-watersheds is previous investigations within the basin, and database and/or GIS information for the basin. Chapter V offers a more detailed discussion of a retrospective study.

It would be impractical, if not impossible, to monitor every tributary to Cayuga Lake. Rather, what is needed is a well-crafted monitoring approach capable of capturing the spatial and temporal variability of the basin. Basic spatial elements should include monitoring of the lake’s major tributaries (located primarily within the southern end of the basin) and representative smaller tributaries (from the middle and northern part of the basin). Preliminary focus should be directed at the mouths of these tributaries so as to define total load for the catchment. Another approach that might be considered is a combination of fixed monitoring sites and rotating temporary sites. The "rotational monitoring" program would entail establishing temporary monitoring stations on certain tributaries for a set period of time (long enough to sufficiently characterize the given tributary). The station(s) could then be moved to another stream(s). This approach should not be considered as a replacement for fixed monitoring sites, but rather as a supplement to fixed sites. Temporal considerations are especially important in the design of a tributary monitoring program. It is crucial that tributary monitoring be conducted across various flow regimes (base flow, average flow, and storm-event conditions). This is particularly important in the derivation of pollutant loading estimates. Studies have shown that the majority of the load for many contaminants occurs during storm-events. Therefore, it is critical to capture storm-events as part of a tributary monitoring program. Storm-event monitoring is no easy task and requires significant commitment and expertise on the part of monitoring personnel. The weather conditions are by definition inclement, personnel must be prepared to respond on short notice, and equipment requirements (i.e., automatic samplers) can be costly and complex. Thus, given the level of effort required to conduct storm-event monitoring, it would likely need to be focused on priority catchments (e.g., southern catchment, major tributary systems). Another temporal consideration that should be considered, particularly in the context of so called "temporary stations", is the length of operation of a given site. Annual variations in weather patterns and resultant runoff necessitate operating these sites for longer durations in order to capture the natural variability.

Other considerations which are important in the selection of tributary monitoring locations include: (1) proximity to gaging site – to enable computation of loads, (2) logistical considerations such as stream access (e.g., bridge sites, etc.), and (3) safety issues (e.g., traffic issues, etc.). Finally, monitoring protocols may well vary from one catchment to another depending upon the issues of interest. As understanding of the watershed evolves, catchment specific monitoring protocols can be developed which better reflect local issues of concern.


Proposed deliverables form this component of the Plan include: (1) Water Balance: derive a water balance for the lake – this will require additional information such as meteorological information (e.g., rainfall, evaporation rate, etc.) and ground waterflows, and (2) Mass Load: develop mass loading estimates for various chemical parameters (nutrients, pesticides, etc.) – this will also require additional information such as chemical parameters of interest.

The most important physical parameter for an effective tributary monitoring program is stream flow. For example, stream flow is crucial to the derivation of mass loading estimates, and thus, indispensable to development of waste assimilation estimates and total maximum daily loads (TMDL). Other important physical parameters include suspended sediments, particle characteristics (size, density, etc.), and temperature (which can determine the mixing pattern for the inflow to the lake.


Proposed deliverables from this component of the plan include: (1) Current Status: define ambient water quality conditions within the target tributaries; (2) Mass Load: derive mass loading of various chemical parameters, which would assist in derivation of TMDL where necessary – this will require additional information such as stream flow, and (3) Catchment Prioritization: for use in watershed management decisions.

The chemical parameters of interest within the tributaries are similar to those of interest within the lake. These include both conventional and toxic parameters. Phosphorus is the most important conventional chemical parameter of interest due to the fact that it is the limiting nutrient for primary productivity within Cayuga Lake. As discussed above, it is important to determine the mass loading of phosphorus from the tributary system, and, thus, it is important to monitor the tributaries under various flow regimes. It would also be of value to determine specific phosphorus species (SRP, TSP, etc.). Other conventional chemical parameters of import include major ions, nitrogen, and biochemical oxygen demand. Most of these activities would involve water column monitoring.

Toxic parameters of interest within the tributaries include organics such as chlorinated organics (e.g., PCBs and DDT) and current use pesticides (e.g., atrazine), as well as inorganic substances (e.g., metals). These efforts could involve both water column samples and benthic sediment samples. A common first step in attempting to characterize the toxics of concern (particularly hydrophobic substances) within a lake basin is to sample the benthic sediments from major tributary deltas within the basin. This activity affords a basin-wide perspective with respect to which contaminants are of concern within the lake basin, and provides a way to prioritize tributary catchments for additional investigation.


Proposed deliverables from this component of the Plan include the following: (1) characterize the biological integrity of target tributaries; (2) assess pathogen concerns for the tributary itself and as path of introduction to the lake; and (3) assess routes of introduction for nuisance exotic species (particularly from Seneca and Keuka Lakes and the Seneca-Cayuga Canal).

Parameters of interest within the tributary system include macroinvertebrates (for species richness and abundance, and tissue analysis), pathogens (cryptosporidium, giardia, E coli, etc.), exotic species, fish (for ecosystem assessment and fish tissue analysis), and periphyton.

V. Ground Water

The ground water system within the Cayuga Lake Watershed is an important resource to residents of the watershed. While most of the larger communities within the watershed depend upon surface water sources for potable waters, more rural communities rely primarily upon ground water for water supply.

The ground water system in the Cayuga Lake Basin also functions as a secondary conduit for the delivery of water and chemical constituents (natural and man-made) to the tributaries and the lake. While the ground water resource does not supply the quantity of water delivered by the tributary streams during storm flow conditions, ground water is usually the source of the tributary flow during base-flow periods. The ground water component must be assessed and evaluated in order to understand the overall water quantity and quality being delivered from the sub-watersheds to the lake.

As discussed in the lake and tributary monitoring components of the Monitoring Plan Framework, design of the ground water monitoring protocol should be guided by similar criteria: (1) identify and address issues and/or parameters of concern within sub-watersheds as they affect the ground water system(s) (see Chapter V for details of the retrospective study), (2) provide sufficient spatial and temporal resolution to accurately characterize quantity and quality conditions and trends within the ground water system (both unconsolidated and bedrock aquifers) of the basin, and (3) collect the necessary supporting information for understanding ground water flow direction, rate, and quality.

It would be impossible, and impractical, to monitor ground water in all of the aquifers throughout the basin. A well-crafted monitoring plan, using benchmark aquifers, as well as existing monitoring programs for public (groundwater-based) water-supply systems should provide the desired spatial data needed to do an initial assessment of ground water resources within the watershed. Seasonal sampling of the resource should provide the basis to evaluate temporal trends in the quantity and quality of ground water over an annual cycle, and provide the basis for determining future monitoring frequency. Consider Screening Study. As time and monetary resources are made available, more in-depth analysis of the resource can be made.

The initial assessment of ground water resources within the watershed should consider the following: (1) Aquifer type: (a) Unconsolidated aquifers - generally sand and gravel deposits found in glacially-scoured valleys. The largest of these aquifers are generally found in south-draining valleys as well as in the inlet valley south of the lake. Other unconsolidated aquifers of varying size and permeability are found throughout the Cayuga Basin. These aquifers can be either unconfined (surficial) aquifers, or confined (buried) aquifers. (b) Bedrock aquifers - most of the basin is underlain by shale bedrock which generally has low to very low yields (< 5 gallons per minute). There are also two carbonate (limestone) units that cross the basin - the Tully Limestone found in the south-central part of the basin and the Onondaga/Bertie Limestone found in the northern part of the basin. The Tully Limestone is generally a massive unit but may have water-bearing zones at the top and bottom of the unit. The Onondaga/Bertie is more karstic (solution channels, sinkholes, and swallets) and has a high secondary permeability (in fractures and solution channels) and these features support the highest rates of ground-water movement within the basin. (2) Land use: The quality of shallow ground water is affected by land use patterns. Ground water in forested sub-basins generally exhibit natural conditions – exceptions may include areas with illegal or abandoned dumps, or those with significant logging operations. Land uses where chemicals and nutrients are used or disposed of (as identified in the GIS assessment – chapter VI) can also affect the quality of the ground water resource. The quality of deep ground water, either in confined aquifers or below the weathered and fractured bed-rock surface (generally greater than 20 ft. below the bedrock surface), are less affected by land use activities. While surface contamination is limited in these aquifers, natural "contamination" (hydrogen sulfide and high levels of mineral salts) can exist as a result of the slow movement of ground water through shale bedrock. Deep ground water, found in carbonate bedrock, is also affected by the surrounding shale units, but in karst situations, water quality can have a high degree of variability as surface contamination can move rapidly into deeper bedrock through sinkholes and solution channels. (3) Topography and Geography: These factors influence the type of aquifer found in the basin and

rate of ground water movement. Steep slopes usually have thin unconsolidated deposits and the ground water is usually found at significant depth. The rates of ground water flow can vary substantially depending on the depth to ground water and the bedrock type. Minimal slopes usually have greater thicknesses of unconsolidated deposits (of varying permeability) and slower rates of ground-water movement.


Proposed deliverables from this portion of the plan would include: (1) Water-well network - Selection of representative aquifers and wells within those aquifers can be used to determine local and regional ground-water table configuration. Wells should represent major unconsolidated and bedrock aquifers, and could utilize domestic and community water-supply wells if no funding is available to drill

monitoring wells. Most community water-supply wells will be located in unconfined surficial aquifers of either type. ? Unconsolidated aquifers - Unconfined (surficial) and confined (buried) unconsolidated aquifers in valley-fill situations. ? Bedrock aquifers - Shale and carbonate bedrock aquifers; (2) Water Balance Component - To further define the lake water balance and reduce the error term, a first approximation of the ground-water contribution to tributary streams and the lake should be made. For this

approximation, seepage measurements at high, average, and low base-flow conditions can be made to determine, by aquifer type, the contribution of ground water to the surface water system. Ground water seepage directly to the lake cannot be determined directly, and would require a more intensive study of lake/ground water geochemistry.

Parameters of interest include water table level, recharge rates, flow paths, and discharge rates.


Proposed deliverables from this component include: (1) Collection of ground water samples -

Samples of ground water should be collected from the water-well network to define the "in-situ" quality of the ground water resource. During measurement of base flow on tributary streams, water samples can be collected to further define the quality of ground water as it enters the surface water system and to define ground-water loading to the tributaries and ultimately, the lake.

Chemical parameters to be measured should be similar to those chosen for the lake and tributary monitoring programs. Parameters of interest include both organic and inorganic contaminants. Particular emphasis should be placed on those chemicals which are known to occur within the basin or are suspected to be present based on methods such as GIS sub-watershed analysis.


Proposed deliverables from this portion of the plan include: (1) Assessment of pathogens: assess the potential for bacteriological contamination of potable water supplies; and (2) Stream ecology: assess the effect of ground water driven base flow on resident flora and fauna.

Parameters of interest include pathogen indicator organisms (E. coli, etc.) and macroinvertebrate communities.

VI. Other Information/Issues

While a well designed lake/tributary monitoring program is an important element in watershed stewardship, it ought not exist in a vacuum. Other important elements for an effective watershed monitoring plan include: (1) Other Data Components - consideration should be given to other data components which do not necessarily fit within lake, tributary, or ground water categories, including atmospheric deposition and transport, and meteorological parameters, (2) Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) – all monitoring components should include development of QA/QC plans, (3) Retrospective Investigation – development of a watershed monitoring plan should be preceded by a thorough literature review and data gap analysis to provide a temporal context to planned activities, (4) Database and Geographical Information System (GIS) – it is important to include discussions of data storage and dissemination in concert with monitoring plan development , (5) Program Integration – efforts should be made to integrate monitoring activities with other related activities (e.g., research activities, modeling efforts, management actions, etc.), and (6) Resource Considerations - such as infrastructure issues (e.g., who will conduct the monitoring), funding issues (e.g., funding needs, funding sources, etc.).

1. Other Data Components

Water quality within a given watershed can be influenced by activities outside of its immediate boundaries. The processes of atmospheric transport and atmospheric deposition can be important determinants of water quality. For example, the phenomenon of lake acidification is thought to be largely the result of these processes. Thus, it is important to evaluate the relative significance of atmospheric sources of contaminants. Atmospheric transport can be an important source of nutrients, metals, and/or organic contaminants.

Another important component of a watershed monitoring program is a meteorological network. Meteorological information can play an important role in issues such as sediment resuspension (via wind induced waves) and nutrient loading (via erosion and tributary loading). Important meteorological parameters include temperature, precipitation, evaporation, and wind (velocity and direction). There are several meteorological stations located within or proximate to the Cayuga Lake watershed. It is important that the Monitoring Plan be coordinated with these installations.

2. Quality Assurance/Quality Control Considerations

All elements of the Monitoring Plan should be supported with a defensible Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) Plan. Many of the parameters of interest within Cayuga Lake and its tributaries are measured in the parts per million or, in some instances, parts per billion range. Thus, accurate quantification of ambient levels of these substances requires careful and precise sampling and analytical techniques. The implementation of a rigorous QA/QC Plan can ensure the accuracy of monitoring results. QA/QC samples should include field blanks, field replicates, matrix spikes, and performance samples.

QA/QC considerations are also an important consideration in evaluating what historical data to include in a centralized database or GIS (see below). It might be advisable to establish minimum QA/QC requirements, or establish QA/QC qualifiers for each data set.

 3. Retrospective Investigation

As mentioned earlier, a retrospective investigation is an important initial step in the establishment of a watershed monitoring plan. A retrospective investigation would include a literature review of past studies, a review of current and/or ongoing studies, and a data gap analysis. A retrospective investigation provides valuable insight for the design of future monitoring efforts, and can improve the efficacy of prospective investigations in several ways. First, past studies provide a context in which to design future monitoring activities. For example, previous investigations can winnow the list of water quality parameters to be included, define issues of concern within the watershed, and identify possible "hot spots" within the basin. This contextual information can result in a more effective and efficient Monitoring Plan. Second, a data gap analysis can determine necessary additions to past or ongoing monitoring activities. Third, previous studies can provide continuity between past, current, and future investigations, and enable assessment of water quality trends. This can include continuity with respect to both time and space. Fourth, past studies can help to identify possible participants for future investigations. This can include citizen groups, agencies, institutions, and individuals. Fifth, evaluation of current/ongoing investigations can provide opportunities for collaborative efforts for future monitoring activities, which can result in mutual advantages.

Given the number of academic institutions in the area, a viable approach for such a retrospective investigation might be to sponsor one or more graduate students to conduct the study.

4. Database Issues/GIS Issues

A valuable tool in effectively bridging disparate monitoring elements, or monitoring elements of various vintages (past, present and future), is the development of an integrated data management program. Additionally, a Geographical Information System (GIS) provides a spatial representation of available information. Note: the term GIS will be used from this point forward to encompass the broader idea of a coupled data management program and GIS.

Ideally, a certain symbiosis would develop between a monitoring program and the associated GIS. For instance, as mentioned earlier, certain elements of the GIS (e.g., hazardous waste sites) can help to define the "universe" of potential contaminants within the watershed, and, thus, would provide important guidance to the monitoring program regarding possible contaminants of concern and/or areas of concern. In "exchange", the monitoring program can help to "flesh out" the GIS by providing site-specific data within the watershed.

GIS coverage’s of interest include hydrography, land use, soils, ambient data sites, pollutant source locations, governmental boundaries, digital elevation models (DEM's), digital ortho quads (DOQ's), roads, political boundaries, data collection sites (all, active, inactive), SPDES sites - active/inactive, 'other' contamination sites, pesticide use information, public water supplies, etc.

Development of a central data repository could involve an Internet site, CD-ROM, or other distribution methods. Initial efforts could involve simply a cataloging of known studies.

A GIS can also function as a valuable integration tool by providing a focal point for program integration and the sharing of information. While a comprehensive GIS would represent an important step in program integration within the watershed, direct integration of various monitoring initiatives, which will be discussed next, would go even further in facilitating an effective and efficient monitoring program.

5. Program Integration

The sheer size and complexity of the Cayuga Lake Watershed, coupled with the scarcity of available resources for monitoring activities, provides strong incentive for collaborative efforts within the watershed. Collaborative efforts offer the potential for significant program efficiency and information transfer. Thus, substantial effort should be made to facilitate collaborative monitoring efforts within the watershed.

The Cayuga Lake watershed is well situated for such collaborative efforts given the wealth of academic, governmental, and citizen organizations within or adjacent to the watershed. There are numerous academic institutions (Cornell, Wells, State College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse University, etc.) with both significant technical expertise and a long history of interest in the Finger Lakes. There are also a number of governmental entities (United States Geological Survey, county health departments, soil and water conservation districts, etc.) with significant technical expertise and long term interest in the protection of water resources within the area. The watershed is also fortunate to possess an informed and engaged resident community capable of providing valuable input and support of monitoring activities. Finally there is presently considerable interest within the community to address water quality concerns within the lake and watershed. This current level of interest offers substantial opportunity for collaborative monitoring activities within the watershed.

Current monitoring activities within the watershed include citizen-based initiatives, governmental-based management activities, and academic and/or governmental research projects. While the goals and objectives of these seemingly disparate efforts are frequently different, there is often substantial commonality in monitoring and/or data requirements. Parties should attempt to identify opportunities for collaboration and/or cooperation across programmatic and institutional boundaries. For example, an academic investigation of food web dynamics within the lake would, of necessity, need to assess algal productivity within the system and evaluate the limiting factors for primary productivity. By comparison, resource managers and citizen groups are also likely to have interest in both the primary productivity of the system and the factors controlling algal productivity. Thus, coordination efforts could offer substantial benefits to both endeavors in terms of program efficiency (both funding and human resource) and data availability. Cooperative ventures are, perhaps, best directed at projects of mutual interest such as so called applied science initiatives. Activities such as watershed modeling activities and/or development of best management practices (BMPs) are examples of activities amenable to cooperative ventures. The success of such cooperative ventures requires a sustained dialog throughout the life of the project(s), and should seek to establish consistent methodologies between programs.

The most critical element to effective integration of watershed activities is the establishment of viable communication channels. Therefore, a proposed first step toward program integration might be the establishment of "Cayuga Lake Watershed Environmental Clearing House" in the form of a resource room within the watershed (perhaps at a local or academic library) and/or an Internet site. The first product might take the form of a catalog or inventory of ongoing or proposed monitoring initiatives within the watershed. Future activities might include publishing of an environmental newsletter, conducting periodic environmental workshops, and/or developing training materials (videos, computer materials, etc.).

Consideration must be given to how the monitoring program would be coordinated and executed. The monitoring program could include either a centralized approach, a diffuse (uncentralized) approach, or, most likely, a hybrid of the two. This will likely require one or more entities to take a lead on implementing the program. This could be carried out by the academic community, a government entity, or a private organization.

6. Resource Considerations

The development and implementation of a Cayuga Lake Watershed Monitoring Plan faces certain challenges related to resource issues. Resource issues range from who will conduct the monitoring to how will the activities will be funded.

    1. Human Resource Issues
    2. Implementation of a comprehensive monitoring program for the Cayuga Lake Watershed will require a significant effort by a fairly diverse group of individuals. The program will likely involve a combination of water resource professionals and trained "volunteers" As discussed in the previous section, if designed and implemented properly, significant efficiencies could be accrued by combining the skills of professionals with the enthusiasm and availability of volunteers. It is important, however, to remain cognizant of the strengths and limitations of potential participants. Certain monitoring efforts (e.g., sediment core investigations, mathematical modeling exercises, etc.) that are best suited for, or directed by, professional scientists. There are, however, ample opportunities for participation by the broader community. This is particularly true in instances where environmental professionals are consulted and the monitoring plan has sound QA/QC protocols. It would also be advantageous to establish training materials (e.g., videos, computer materials, etc.) and/or technology transfer workshops to enhance the monitoring capability of the resident community.

    3. Infrastructure Issues
    4. Implementation of a Cayuga Lake Watershed monitoring plan will require both building space for sample processing and equipment storage, and monitoring equipment. Many of these needs may be addressable from existing programs, however, there will likely be a need for supplemental funding for some of these needs.

    5. Funding Issues
    6. The implementation of a watershed monitoring program will require a sustained source of funding. Funding will be required for sample equipment, sampling personnel, sample analysis, and data interpretation Existing monitoring programs within the watershed may help to minimize funding requirements for future monitoring initiatives. In addition, as discussed above, there may be some creative approaches to securing funding by evaluating cooperative ventures between various entities. However, there will undoubtedly be a need to secure long-term funding for a sustained monitoring program within the watershed.

      Funding options could include contributions from individual communities or external funding sources (federal, state, private).

    7. Prioritization

It is often the case that monitoring needs exceed available funds to address those needs. As a result, methods to prioritize monitoring needs will need to be established. Prioritization should include both geographical considerations as well as parameter specific considerations.


Birge, E.A. and Juday, C. (1914), A limnological Study of the Finger Lakes of New York, No. 791, Bull. Fish., v. 32.

Birge, E.A. and Juday, C. (1921), Further limnological observations on the Finger Lakes of New York, No. 905, Bull. Fish., v. 37.

Oglesby, R.T., (1978). "The Limnology of Cayuga Lake", In Lakes of New York State – Volume 1 Ecology of the Finger Lakes (J. A. Bloomfield, ed.), Academic Press.

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