A Promising Future for Owasco Lake

Last week, the Owasco Watershed Lake Association (OWLA) and the Cayuga Water Quality Management Agency held their third annual Owasco Lake Day at Emerson Park. It was an opportunity to reflect on all of the accomplishments and progress that we have made in improving the water quality of Owasco Lake. We’ve come a long way in the last five years, but we all agree that much more needs to be done.The health of Owasco Lake is certainly vital to the Finger Lakes region. While Owasco Lake provides drinking water for the City of Auburn and the dozens of villages and towns along its shores, it also fuels our local economy and plays a critical role in our tourism industry. That is why protecting Owasco Lake continues to be a top priority for me.For the last several years, I have fought aggressively alongside members of the Owasco Watershed Lake Association, the City of Auburn, Cayuga County, the Finger Lakes Institute, and hundreds of concerned citizens to help preserve our beautiful Owasco Lake. The Stardust Foundation, the Emerson Foundation, the Blueprint Committee, and the communities surrounding Owasco Lake have played an important role in cleaning up the lake. They have created a true model for intergovernmental cooperation and public-private partnership.Together, we established one of the most comprehensive scientific research analysis ever conducted on any of the Finger Lakes. Under the guidance and direction of Dr. John Halfman of the Finger Lakes Institute, we have been able to adopt countless new environmental practices to put the health of Owasco Lake on the right track. We also established a comprehensive lake monitoring system, with Lake Steward Jessica Miles at the forefront of these efforts. Both of these individuals are certainly to be commended for their hard work.We were also successful in convincing the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to cut in half the amount of phosphorus being discharged from the Groton Wastewater Treatment Plant. Working together with OWLA and Cayuga County we have also accelerated the removal of weeds by purchasing additional specialized weed harvesters. As a result of these initiatives, we have already begun to see improvements in the Lake’s water quality.In addition, I was able to assist OWLA in developing a new state of the art monitoring system called the Owasco Lake Watershed Network (OWN), which quickly pinpoints the exact location of any contamination or threat to the lake. This has allowed our Lake Steward to address issues quickly and effectively and has helped to protect the lake’s water quality.Dr. Halfman’s recent report on Owasco Lake showed that we must remain vigilant in our efforts. We must continue our dedication and hard work in order to keep moving in the right direction.Certainly, I will continue to fight for a cleaner and brighter future for Owasco Lake and I look forward to maintaining strong partnerships with all of the incredible organizations and individuals who have been working so hard to preserve, protect, and promote Owasco Lake.

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