2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


BUSH, Kathleen F., Dept. of Biology / Environmental Studies Program, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY 14456 and HALFMAN, John D., Dept of Geoscience / Environmental Studies Program, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY 14456, Kathleen.Bush@hws.edu

The Finger Lakes of New York State are a critical source of drinking water that must be protected. Over 100,000 people depend on Seneca Lake, the largest of the Finger Lakes, to provide clean water on a daily basis. Rochester and Syracuse are also dependent on neighboring lakes for their drinking water. These lakes provide an ideal setting to study surface water geochemistry and biological integrity. This project investigates the potential connections between land use practices and water quality. Area covered by municipal sewers versus septic systems differs in each watershed as do best management practices (BMP's) for agricultural land because regulations are town specific and not regionally uniform in New York State.

Total coliform and E. coli bacteria, nutrient and chlorophyll-a concentrations were used as indicators of water quality. The nine easternmost Finger Lakes were sampled during the summer of 2005. This data augmented the routine sampling of four lake sites and sixteen stream sites in the Seneca Lake watershed that were sampled over a three year period (2003-2005).

The preliminary bacterial results were well within the EPA maximum contaminant levels (MCL's) for Class A drinking water of 2,400 colony forming units (CFU's) for total coliform and 235 CFU's for E. coli. All lake concentrations were generally less than 50 CFUs/100mL and did not reveal any trends. Stream samples were consistently an order of magnitude higher than those from the lake. Two streams, Wilson and Hector Falls, regularly had higher concentrations than the other streams indicating a recurring source of contamination. Lake and stream concentrations significantly increased following storm events during the week of July 15, 2005, suggesting the significance of runoff events on water quality. The data collection and analysis will continue through the Fall 2005. The ultimate goal is to complete a State of the Region land use analysis and determine whether new best management efforts and more heavily enforced legislation are reducing the observed impacts in the lakes.