Written by the Lake Friendly Living Coalition of the Finger Lakes
Winter is here and so are ice and snow. Central New York (CNY) is no stranger to ice and snow. In fact, many residents consider themselves “pros” in knowing how to drive in the snow, shovel a sidewalk, or clear a driveway before work. We know what we are doing … but do we? Do we know what impact our winter de-icing actions are having on our environment?
It is estimated that the U.S. uses 15 million tons of de-icing salt per year. We use a lot of salt in CNY to keep our roads and walkways safe, but all that salt ends up somewhere. The salt can eventually seep into the ground or runoff into streams and lakes. It can impact groundwater that supplies drinking water wells, and the salt can enter the water we drink from Skaneateles Lake. Salt can be harmful to aquatic life, plants, and drinking water supplies. Here is a breakdown of salt products and things you should know about them:
Rock salt (sodium chloride) is the most commonly used salt, but it can contain cyanide (used as an anti-caking agent that can be lethal to aquatic life) and is the most detrimental for plants.
Calcium chloride is considered a superior choice when compared to rock salt because it does not contain cyanide. However, it can also damage plants. Calcium chloride costs approximately three times more than rock salt, but only one-third as much is needed. Calcium chloride is also effective at temperatures down to -25°F. Other de-icing salts lose effectiveness between 25-0°F.
Magnesium chloride is considered the least toxic de-icing salt because it contains less chloride than either rock salt or calcium chloride, making it safer for plants and animals.
Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) is considered the best overall choice for safely melting ice. It is less toxic than deicers containing chloride but can cost substantially more than rock salt.
All the items listed above can be purchased online or at your local big box or chain hardware store.
It is important to practice careful restraint with salt application and consider other de-icing methods. There are many ways to keep walkways safe, while also minimizing pollution to our waterways. There are some salt alternatives that can be less damaging to properties and landscaping. These products are considered better for the environment. Sugar Beet Juice is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to de-ice slippery surfaces. The juice from the sugar beets lowers the freezing point of ice and snow. It is completely safe for roads, plants, pets, concrete, and cars. The one downside is that the sugar beet juice, if it enters streams and lakes, can attract bacteria which can use up oxygen in water. Sand and coffee grounds, when applied on top of snow or ice, help absorb sunlight to melt snow and ice. They also provide traction. However, sand is still not a perfect alternative because it can eventually blow or wash into streams or lakes where it can damage aquatic habitat and create unwanted substrate for plant growth. If you use sand, remember to sweep, and collect it as soon as weather conditions permit. Kitty litter is similar to coffee grounds and sand in that it will provide traction on slippery surfaces though it will not melt the snow. These are some alternative products to salt that can have better impacts on our environment. As a consumer, please consider alternative products to use when you plan for an upcoming snowstorm.
Other tips for snow and ice removal include:
● Look for “pet safe” de-icing products. If a product is pet friendly, it is likely to be eco-friendly
● Apply de-icing products before a winter storm
● Disperse ice melt properly and continue to disperse during a storm.
● Clear as much snow and ice before applying de-icing products. Don’t use salt as a substitute for shoveling
● A mechanical spreader can help achieve proper coverage. The proper coverage rate is about one cup per square yard
Some properties may be unable to avoid salt that is applied to municipal roads. The salt that is applied can accumulate alongside the road. In the spring, it is important to wash salt spray off plants that are near the road, sidewalk, or driveway and to flush the soil with fresh water. Call your local road maintenance department to find out what type of de-icer they use near your landscape. You can also advocate for your municipality to switch from using salt to more lake friendly de-icing alternatives, like sugar beet juice. Gardeners should research the growing requirements of plants to determine their tolerance to road salt. A few salt-tolerant species include: bearded iris, bee balm, daylilies, garden phlox, rose of sharon, hydrangea, sumac and witch hazel. Cornell Cooperative Extension is a great resource for identifying native plant landscaping suggestions cce.cornell.edu.
Another de-icing product to consider is windshield washer fluid. Washer fluid is essential for dangerous winter driving. However, most washer fluids contain toxic methanol and phosphates that can contribute to harmful algal blooms in our lakes. One spray of windshield washer fluid may not seem like enough to do much damage, but when you think about how many gallons your car uses over the course of the winter months and then consider all of the other cars on the road. The cumulative impacts can be massive. The next time you need to purchase windshield washer fluid, consider buying a lake friendly alternative that does not contain toxic methanol or ammonia. There are concentrated liquids that are as effective and can be less costly than traditional washer fluid products. One lake friendly alternative is the Nextzett Anti-Wash Windshield Washer Fluid.
We all can do more to protect our precious water quality. If we act together, we can collectively be the solution to winter pollution.
Written by Dan Corbett, President of Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association
The Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) is native to China, was first detected in Pennsylvania in September 2014, and has multiplied voraciously and caused much damage to agriculture and forests. This invasive insect feeds on a wide range of fruit, ornamental and woody trees, with tree-of-heaven being one of the preferred hosts. Spotted lanternflies can be spread long distances by people who move infested material or items containing egg masses. Continued spread of this pest will seriously impact the grape, orchard, and logging industries.
Spotted Lanternfly lays egg masses of 30-50 eggs wherever it chooses, especially on flat surfaces. All other life stages of this insect, from nymphs to adults can fly, hop, or drop right into or onto vehicles – meaning that vehicles and equipment can easily and quickly help it spread. Therefore, a quarantine over an area found to harbor the Spotted Lanternfly means that any material or object that can spread the pest cannot be moved without taking precautions to prevent that spread. Businesses, truckers, and common carriers moving items from a spotted lanternfly quarantine area must complete a Spotted Lanternfly training and obtain a permit. We should all take precautions.
Seneca Lake Pure Waters volunteers are working with the Finger Lakes Institute PRISM program to monitor our region for any emerging populations. We will continue to monitor our traps throughout September, October, and into the first frosts of November. The fall is the most important time of year to be monitoring traps, as adults are highly active. The adult stage of SLF is where transport and population spread are most likely to occur. This is also the time of year where adults are mating. Keep an eye out for SLF egg masses.
If you find this pest outside of a spotted lanternfly quarantine area, please take a picture of it and note the location to report it to your State Department of Agriculture before killing it. When preparing for the winter holidays, check outdoor items for spotted lanternfly egg masses, including those items you may bring indoors. Scrape any egg masses into a plastic zippered bag filled with hand sanitizer, then zip the bag shut and dispose of it properly.
What you can do:
“No one person can address the issue; rain falls everywhere.”
-Ian Smith, Seneca Watershed Steward
SENECA-KEUKA LAKES — After nearly four years of study, analysis, and preparation, the Seneca-Keuka Lake Watershed 9 Element Plan is now in the hands of New York State officials at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Department of State. The plan should be fully approved and available for local use during the upcoming New York State grant application process as local organizations seek funds for projects to improve water quality in the lakes. 9E Plans are among the approaches endorsed by the New York State DEC for Clean Water Planning across the state.
The plan was presented to the public during the 10th Annual Land Use Leadership Alliance training in Penn Yan on April 25. Find the plan and a recording of the presentation at https://senecawatershedio.wordpress.com/9e/.
The objective of the 9E Plan is to identify specific actions to reduce phosphorus loading to the lakes and minimize the risk of cyanobacterial blooms, also known as harmful algal blooms (HABs), and other threats to the watershed. Phosphorus and other nutrients are essential for plant and animal growth and nourishment, but excessive amounts in water have been linked to problematic blooms. Phosphorus, which is commonly found in fertilizers, manure, and organic wastes in sewage and industrial effluent, can negatively impact water quality. Soil erosion is also a major contributor of phosphorus, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
A Soil & Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) is used to simulate the quality and quantity of surface and ground water, and to predict the impact of land use, land management, and climate change. Baseline SWAT model projections indicate that the highest phosphorus load per acre appears to be generated in subwatersheds where cultivated crops are the primary land use.
The over-arching goal of the 9E Plan is to preserve and improve water quality while also fostering progress toward achieving the community’s vision for the future of the Seneca-Keuka watershed, where more than half of the water in the 11 Finger Lakes is held. Efforts to achieve that goal will include consideration of the cultural, social, and economic factors of the region.
Ian Smith, Seneca Watershed Steward, distills the goal, saying the efforts will be focused on “making the landscape more of a sponge” by managing the flow of water within the watershed. He says the plan is not one that should just be put on a shelf and forgotten. “It’s a living document” he stresses, adding that while it is not a regulatory document, there are actions within the plan that might incorporate compliance and/or enforcement measures, such as those associated with local zoning regulations.
While some of the highest priority projects will likely focus on hydrologic resilience and best management of cultivated cropland, there is a wide variety of potential projects applicable to various land use areas. Smith notes, “No one person can address the issue; rain falls everywhere.”
Strategies to reduce non-point source pollution are organized in six categories:
Hydrologic Resilience: with the highest priorities identified as increasing storm flow resilience of streams; using green infrastructure to intercept stormwater; and conservation of high value natural resources such as steep slope forests, floodplains, and wetlands.
Best Management Practices (BMPs) on Working Landscapes: with the highest priorities identified as acquisition, easements, and/or preservation of lands between agriculture or timberland and wetlands or waterbodies; increase participation in agricultural environmental management; and the use of BMP’s such as planting cover crops on lands prone to erosion and nutrient runoff.
Wastewater Management: with the highest priority of increasing the capacity and efficiency of wastewater treatment plants.
Invasive Species Management: with the highest priorities identified as supporting/expanding the boat launch stewards program; installation of informational kiosks at boat launches; and invasive species outreach and educational initiatives.
Local Laws: with the highest priorities identified as adopting open space conservation rules to preserve forests, wetlands, and other high value resources; and development of universal minimum sanitary standards.
Education, Outreach, Economic Development: with the highest priorities identified as engaging watershed stakeholders in water quality protection activities; development of education and outreach programs; and distribution of educational material on water quality.
The Seneca-Keuka Watershed spans 712 square miles and stretches from the Town of Italy in western Yates County to the Town of Hector in eastern Schuyler County; from the Town of Horseheads in Chemung County to the Town of Geneva in Ontario County; and from the Town of Fayette in Seneca County to the Town of Urbana in Steuben County. Seneca and Keuka Lakes contain more than 50 percent of the water of the 11 Finger Lakes and they are joined by a natural waterway, the Keuka Outlet, historically known as Minnesetah River.
The projectis sponsored with funding provided by the New York State Department of State under Title 11 of the Environmental ProtectionFund. Additional funding is provided by Seneca Watershed Intermunicipal Organization, Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association, Keuka Watershed Improvement Cooperative, Keuka Lake Association, The Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Seneca County, Schuyler County, Ontario County, Yates County, Steuben County, and Corning Inc.
The Seneca-Keuka Watershed Partnership Executive Committee includes Mark Venuti (Seneca Watershed Intermunicipal Organization), Dan Corbett (Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association), Steve Butchko (Keuka Watershed Improvement Cooperative), and Mark Morris (Keuka Lake Association) with Advisors Lisa Cleckner (Finger Lakes Institute), Ian Smith (Seneca Lake Watershed Steward), Colby Petersen (Keuka Watershed Manager) and Administrator Betsy Landre (Ontario County Planning Dept.) For more information about the Seneca-Keuka Watershed Partnership contact Ian Smith at 315-781-4559 or email@example.com, or Colby Petersen at 315-536-5188 or Colby@ycsoilwater.com.
Written by Jacob Welch, President of Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association
Our precious Seneca Lake unselfishly provides incredible sunsets, scenic hillside views, boating, fishing, wine tasting and a host of other great recreational activities. It has been a special safe haven in what can sometimes be a very crazy and scary world. The important thing to keep in mind is that what we oftentimes take for granted, can vanish quickly. Thus, we must not fail in our duty to preserve such a treasure, not just for ourselves but for future generations.
What are the threats to our lake and how can they be overcome? Pure Waters has been around for over 30 years focused on just that. Those who started our organization embarked on stream sampling. In doing so, they hoped their data would lead others to act conscientiously. In turn, our lake would be preserved. If it were but that simple!
The past 30 years has brought about increased agriculture, more people using the lake, higher temperatures and more violent storms tied to climate change. These powerful forces threaten to change our pristine lake, choking it with weeds and feeding the growth of poisonous algal blooms. In fact, this is beginning already.
Pure Waters has taken active steps to combat these threats. While we still have our valued stream sampling, we have also promulgated a HABs detection and reporting system that is second to none. Furthermore, in this past year we have:
*Donated $5000 for an engineering study to determine if old canal beds along the Keuka Outlet can be used as retention areas to reduce sediment flowing into the lake.
*Provided some $35,000 to Soil and Water Conservation Districts around the lake to (a) implement cover crops (b) stabilize streams and (c) create retention ponds. This is all a part of keeping phosphates and nitrates, that instill weed growth and algal blooms, out of Seneca.
The above Pure Waters monies were matched by State or private groups, sometimes many- fold. Doing this really catapults the impact of your financial contributions to our organization.
In other big news, and after three years of hard work, the combined Seneca- Keuka 9-Element Watershed Plan should be approved by the DEC sometime this summer. As I have told you before, the initial $50,000 used for establishing the Nine Element plan came from (you guessed it) Pure Waters. This lake-wide scientific study should open the door for large scale grants we desperately need to preserve our lake and its watershed.
I mention all this to let you know you have a lake association that is both highly active and widely respected. In order to keep this going we critically need help from folks such as yourself. Bottom line: without strong membership numbers we, as a strictly private charity, cannot do anything to effectively help the lake, let alone achieve the higher necessary levels of lake protection we have taken on in these past years.
If you already have a Pure Waters membership, please make sure to renew it. Some of you have been members for decades and we truly appreciate your steadfast help. If you are not a member and care about preserving Seneca Lake, please sign up and realize the many benefits of membership for the next year. Your membership will entitle you to (a) lower admission at some of our entertaining yearly events (b) being regularly kept abreast of lake threats and our efforts to remediate them via our newsletter and (c) feeling you have helped keep this lake from falling into ruin as has happened elsewhere. You may also be interested in our plan to set up a system of phone alerts letting you know about high water, flood risk, and HAB alerts around the lake. This app will be free to all those with an active membership in our organization. (While we have been around a long time, we also pride ourselves in being on the cutting edge.)
Please support Seneca Lake by renewing your membership or by becoming a member today. Some suggested membership categories are listed below. Every dollar provided helps to keep Seneca Lake the special place it is for us all. Let's unite, come together, and Preserve, Protect, and Promote Seneca Lake!
The Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association and the Finger Lakes Institute are teaming up with the National Lake Trout Derby on Seneca Lake this year to conduct a study to better understand the health of the fishery in Seneca Lake. The Lake Trout Derby will begin on Saturday, May 28th at 6:30am and end Monday, May 30th around 12:00pm. Awards start at 3:00pm at Stivers Marina!
Researchers from the Finger Lakes Institute will collect samples from approximately 50 Lake Trout brought to the weigh stations at both Clute Park in Watkins Glen and Stivers Marina in Geneva. This is where we need Trout Derby participant’s help!
Our study to understanding the health of the fishery in Seneca Lake will only be as successful as the fisherman who supply our specimen! We are specifically in need of Lake Trout, both large and small. Will you help us with this study? If so, bring your fish to the weigh stations at Clute Park or Stivers Marina any day and time during the Derby.
The Finger Lakes Institute, Seneca Pure Waters, Finger Lakes Compost and the Lake Trout Derby Board thank you for your support in learning more about the health of our lake!
Please reach out to Kaitlin@senecalake.org with any questions.
Written by Frank DiOrio
Greetings Pure Waters volunteers! We hope everyone is getting ready for another great summer on Seneca Lake. The purpose of this note is to reach out to our over 200 volunteers to see if there is interest in doing a little bit more to support our Pure Waters mission to preserve and protect Seneca Lake. First, let us provide some background:
At this point, we expect you are wondering where we need the most help today. Although we can use all types of talent and help, the following list summarizes a our most critical needs:
If you read this note and have skills and interests that you feel are not an exact match with any of the above areas, no problem, we have something for everyone!! We need both in the water and out of the water talent!
Please take a minute to learn more. You can do one or all of the following:
Thank you in advance for your current volunteer efforts. You are the bedrock of our organization and we could not thank you enough. We are hopeful you are willing to do just a little bit more to help us preserve and protect our beautiful lake. Enjoy the nice weather that has finally arrived and we look forward to hearing back from you!
Written by Ron Klinczar
The Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association announces a first round of awards for its newly formed Sediment, Nutrient, and Pollution Reduction Program (SNPR). Four projects around the lake have been designated for funding to County Soil and Water Conservation districts:
The funds will be used to allow these projects to be constructed over the next 12 months. Pure Waters is excited to partner with these SWCD’s, who have a charter to protect the lands and waters of the Seneca Lake watershed. When implemented, the projects are expected to reduce up to four hundred tons of sediments from entering Seneca Lake annually. Our funds are being matched with other outside funds and contributions of labor and equipment, to magnify their impact to improving the lake.
The SNPR program, launched last year, has a specific focus on reducing sediment and nutrients that negatively impact the water quality of Seneca Lake and its tributaries through financial assistance. The Seneca Lake watershed’s various land uses all contribute to the sediment and nutrient loading of the Lake, impacting the abundance of harmful algal blooms, nuisance weed growth, and altering the lake's available resources for aquatic life, among other things.
Initially, the program contributed $5000 to facilitate a $30,000 engineering study of the Keuka Outlet, which is now underway, with a plan to reconnect nearby canal beds which serve as wetlands and redirect high volume storm water there. The Keuka Outlet project is led by the Seneca Watershed Intermunicipal Organization, and partners include the Friends of the Outlet, Town of Geneva, and Yates County Soil and Water Conservation District, along with the Seneca Pure Waters' SNPR program.
These awards were designated despite the Association receiving notice of one of the SNPR’s founders passing last month, Mr. Rich Adams. Mr. Adams brought over 35 years’ experience with the Pennsylvania DEP to Pure Waters and was instrumental in advancing its cause.
Please visit www.senecalake.org/donate to give to this program, where you can specify your donation as a matching gift. Donations made this spring and summer will be allocated to watershed improvement projects in the second half of 2022. Please consider donating and stay up to date on SNPR program by visiting www.senecalake.org/snpr
Written by Maura Toole
May is Lake Friendly Living Awareness month with many events to learn and apply Lake Friendly Living practices. It is not too late to register for events at www.flrwa.org/lake-friendly-living. Events that have already taken place are taped and available on the website. This year’s theme is Lake Friendly Living for Watershed resiliency which underscores the importance of protecting our lakes given the current climate conditions of higher temperatures and increased heavy precipitation.
Please consider taking the pledge to adopt practices around your home that have short term and long-term benefits for Seneca Lake by reducing pollutants and minimizing runoff. Learn more at https://senecalake.org/LFLPledge
Have a listen to this interview with FLX Morning and Maura Toole about Lake Friendly Living Awareness Month!
5622 M Toole Lake Friendly Living Awareness Month.mp3
Written by Dan Corbett, Seneca Pure Waters Board Member
We are sad to share the news that Mary Rose, active community member and Pure Waters' volunteer, has passed away. Mary has been a very active volunteer and leader in the Pure Waters family for many years. She was a true champion for the health of our lake and was unselfish in her efforts to make an impact.
I first met Mary at the inaugural stream sampling training, in 2014. She had corralled friends and relatives to participate and become the core for the Big Stream team. Mary stepped right up to be the team leader for that area and has been one of the most active and vocal leaders for Pure Waters in the years since. Mary was also pivotal to our continued strong relationship with the Tripp foundation, which has been a key partner of our efforts over the years.
Our condolences go out to her family and many friends. She will be missed by many.
Pictured above, Mary Rose and Dan Corbett collecting stream data for the Seneca Pure Waters Stream Monitoring program.
Keep up with Pure Waters:
Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association
P.O. Box 247
Geneva, NY 14456