General News

News from the SLA

The 2018 Annual Meeting                                                                                                                       Fran Rotunno Fish

(Note:  This article contains a summary of the “STATE of the LAKE” address made by Paul Torrisi, SLA President, at the 2018 Annual Meeting.  If you would like a copy of the complete presentation, please click on the “contact us” tab on this website and request it and it will be emailed to you.)

On Saturday, June 30th, about 300 people came to Lourdes Camp for the first time or came back to the Camp of their own or their children’s or grandchildren’s childhood for the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Skaneateles Lake Association.  Most came by car, some came by boat and a few, from close by, came by foot.  Despite what was a brutally hot day, they came.  The came because they care about and love the treasure that is Skaneateles Lake.

The meeting was enhanced by music provided by Ken Harms as a donation for the lake he loves, a picnic supper provided with great grilling by the Lourdes Chef, Tom; salt potatoes prepared by the American Legion; salads provided by Gilda’s, the Lake House Pub, Johnny Angel’s, the Skaneateles Bakery, Joelle’s, the Skaneateles Country Club, the Blue Water Grill, Krebs, and the Mandana Inn; Cole Slaw provided by Doug’s Fish Fry;  appetizers provided by Valentines, Moros, the Colonial Lodge and Mezza Grande; watermelon provided by TOPS and wine provided by Anyela’s.

The meeting offered the opportunity for many to catch up with long-time friends, meet some new people enjoy the music and have a traditional picnic supper, but the highlight of the meeting was the “State of the Lake” presentation by SLA President, Paul Torrisi.  A summary of his presentation follows.  (The full presentation is on our website,

Dr. Torrisi noted that at last year’s annual meeting he remembered “bragging” how Skaneateles Lake was one of the only, if not THE only Finger Lake never to have had a HAB.   He noted that while we had every right to feel “smug” about our relative “immunity” to such an event- with our deep lake, large volume of clear water and a relatively small watershed, along with historically low levels of nutrients, particularly phosphorous there are significant threats to Skaneateles Lake.    He explained that Invasive Species continue to be a threat to the purity and clarity of the water, and with more organic material in the lake leading to increased foam affecting recreational enjoyment and the quality of the drinking water.  He noted that Eurasian watermilfoil can be found throughout the lake and that for 12 years now through the efforts of the SLA, the milfoil biomass has been substantially reduced at a cost of well over $2 million still costs over $150k annually for the maintenance program to keep it under control.  The lake is also infested with zebra and quagga mussels, and threatened by hydrilla, Asian clams, and others present in neighboring waterbodies.  The SLA’s Lake Stewardship Program, the SLA has been attempting to mitigate the threat of the introduction of these invasive species, particularly hydrilla which could have devastating consequences as it nearly impossible unless toxic chemicals (herbicides) are used.  The Stewardship Program established by the SLA in 2012 has been becoming more and more robust each year, the cost of which is rapidly approaching $50k/year. Thanks primarily to the efforts of Buzz Roberts it has been held up as a model program in the Finger Lakes region!  But, it remains a voluntary participant program.  Both of these important and essential SLA programs (Milfoil Control and Stewardship) are supported by the SLA annual membership dues and donations.

The lake has also been plagued by soil erosion along its banks and heavy storm water runoff into the lake from its 153 tributaries following ever increasing severe, episodic, storm events, like we experienced in July 2017- contributing to harmful nutrient loading, and along with the negative impact of invasive species have helped to promote the continuous degradation of the lake.

The lake remained in relatively good shape until the late summer of 2017 when for the first time in anyone’s memory it suffered a bloom of Microcystis aeruginosa, a toxic cyanobacteria commonly known as a harmful algal bloom (HAB).  It captured the attention of the entire region because Skaneateles Lake was thought to be “immune” from a HAB. That is no longer the case.  The degradation of Skaneateles Lake, if not slowed, will have an enormous impact on the entire region.

For the SLA Board, the HAB was a clarion call for action- and much has been done since last summer. The SLA hosted community forums to discuss and analyze the problem, and in October, 2017 quickly came up with its own HAB Action Plan consisting of 4 major initiatives aimed at substantially lessening the chances of HABs recurring by “control of the controllable”, i.e., the food (nutrients)- not the weather or the presence of the cyanobacteria (which have existed in every body of water on the planet for over 3 billion years).

The first element was the Formation of the Watershed Nutrient Management Work Group co-chaired by SLA Board Members Bob Werner, Ph.D. (Limnologist & retired Prof. SUNY ESF. and Bill Dean, Ph.D. (retired biochemist/Genentech).  This stellar group met almost weekly starting right after the HAB last fall.  They decided that a Nine Element Watershed Management Plan (9E Plan) through NY State was the next step. This plan will identify the sources and causes of nonpoint pollution, involve the key stakeholders in the planning process, and insure that restoration and protection strategies are implemented.  It’s really boiling down to preparing ourselves for the increasingly more frequent “100 year” storms (like last July’s) with bigger better, buffer zones on farms and

basins, and retention landowners’ properties bordering lakefront and the extreme flow of water with increasing watershed wetlands, settling streams, holding back ponds, and re-engineering targeted tributaries and gorges that feed the lake.  This group is working with Kathy Bertuch from the CNY Regional Planning and Development Board to process the 9E Plan application and the Town of Skaneateles has agreed to be the sponsoring lakefront municipality.  He noted that 9E Plan application process will take years, but once completed and certified by NY State, will help the Skaneateles lake and watershed with sources of public funding to help with the modeling and mitigation required to change things in the watershed. It will also take lots of dollars since the recipients of any grants need to come up with 25% matching funds for any funds awarded.

Following the start of our 9E Plan application, Gov. Cuomo in Dec.,2017 announced at SUNY ESF a $65 million proposal to study and plan for HAB prevention in NYS. 12 selected lakes were earmarked for this money (Skaneateles Lake included). Summits were held in March, local steering committees were formed, and the individual HAB Action Plans for each of the 12 selected lakes were released to the public 2 weeks ago- with a deadline date for grant submission of July 27, 2018!   We’re not going to be handed a check for $5 million. This money will need to be applied for in the form of individual grants through the CFA (Consolidated Funding Application) of NY State on a competitive basis, and anyone and everyone can submit requests (in addition to the original 12 selected lakes). So, at this point we are not sure when and how many dollars will come our way.

The second element of the SLA HAB Action Plan is the Watershed Citizen’s Work Group Chaired by Mary Menapace (nurse and community organizer par excellence).  It is focusing on community education, public outreach, and the individual citizen’s efforts to lessen nutrient loading into the lake.  Forums, education, task groups will give everyone in the watershed an opportunity to be a part of the plan to protect and restore the lake.

The third element of the SLA HAB Action Plan is the formation of the Watershed Governance Work Group Co-Chaired by Rich Hole, current SLA Board Treasurer (retired attorney/former managing partner @ BS&K) and Bob Liegel (former President of SLA, Skaneateles Village attorney).  This group has been working on creating the Skaneateles Lake Watershed Management Council, Inc. to include all the municipalities on the lake, City of Syracuse, and 3 counties.  It would serve as the central hub for collaboration among all the vital stakeholders in the watershed, existing in perpetuity.  It would bring together water resource management professionals from all the municipalities and related agencies to work together and help make uniform Low Impact Development (LID) in all the municipalities the standard and work together to minimize the impact of and further introduction of invasive program similar to the one I described in Lake George.

The fourth element of the SLA HAB Action Plan is Funding the restoration of the lakes.  Governor Cuomo proposed $65 million on 12/22/17 to combat the HAB crisis is not coming to us quickly and the time for action is NOW!  The SLA’s annual expense of well over $200k for controlling invasives through its milfoil and lake stewardship programs has been funded through its annual and we cannot emphasize enough how dependent we are on annually renewed membership dues and additional donations directed at both milfoil control and the stewardship programs- please encourage those you know who have not stepped up (friends, neighbors, & businesses) to help us with this endeavor-it’s so important that we get everyone with a stake in this lake on board to help “spread the pain”!!  Thankfully, these efforts have been augmented by a $25k annual grant from Onondaga Cty. these past several years through the thoughtful leadership of County Executive Joanie Mahoney.  

With this loyal support, and continued growth of the SLA membership, we are confident of maintaining these critical invasive species programs; however, fighting HABs will require another and even greater level of financial support.  The SLA is establishing The Legacy Fund for Skaneateles Lake Co-Chaired by Jessica Millman (Environmental watershed planner, former Town Planning Board andTown Comprehensive Plan Committee) and Dave Birchenough (Finger Lakes Land Trust Board).  The goal is to raise at least $1 million and the campaign is quietly underway to expedite the work that needs to get done to prevent HABs from recurring.  Dr. Torissi reported that through the early success and generosity of a handful of donors over the past 6 weeks the SLA has been able to contract with Upstate Freshwater Institute (UFI) to begin the critical monitoring of 3 additional major tributaries this season; Grout Brook, Bear Swamp Creek, and Harold Brook in addition to the 3rd season of monitoring Shotwell Brook which has been sponsored by the Town of Skaneateles.   Capturing this data in 2018 will definitely provide a jump start to targeting sources of pollutant nutrients for remediation, going forward. 

 Source:  Skaneateles Press






News from the Skaneateles Lake Association

Working on Three Fronts

Fran Rotunno Fish

The efforts of the Skaneateles Lake Association are actively focusing on three fronts to protect the treasure that is Skaneateles Lake.

Our Milfoil Team of divers, Victoria Vanicky, Joseph Bergan, Miranda Raughly and John VanSlyke under the supervision of John Menapace have been out on the lake putting down matting on the largest patches of milfoil that were identified via the survey of the lake bottom done by Bob Werner last fall.  They will, again, be putting down 6 acres of matting.  We all need to be aware that the amount of silt and soil that entered our lake from the massive rain storms and resulting runoff last July is, in all probability, going to increase the amount of milfoil that we will see in the lake this year.  If you are fortunate enough to own lakefront property,  you can help with preventing further runoff, please make use of the information in the “Landscaping for Water Quality in the Finger Lakes”.  It is available electronically.  Just request it via the “contact us” tab at Skaneateles

Our Invasive Species Monitoring Stewards have been in place at the DEC Launch and the launch sites in the Towns of Skaneateles (Mandana) and Scott.  This year, we were able to start them earlier and plan to increase the hours of the day that the sites are covered.  The delegation of SLA Board and Committee members that visited Lake George this month learned about their program that provides 100% inspection of every boat that entered the lake.  We know that the Lake George program is the gold standard for protecting our lake from invasive species and that we have to continue our efforts to work with local municipalities and the state to achieve that gold standard.  We also have to have the funding to pay the Stewards for those extended hours.

As part of the SLA’s HAB Action Plan, the SLA Watershed Community Citizens Task Force has been very busy in the month of June.  Chairperson, Mary Menapace worked with the Cornell Cooperative Extension, of Onondaga County and the Town of Skaneateles to present an Informational Public Forum on Harmful Algal Blooms (HABS) and Water Quality on Skaneateles Lake.  Over 270 people were in attendance with another 30 participating via the online broadcast.  The meeting was informational in itself, but it also offered an opportunity for a number of community citizens to offer their assistance with volunteer efforts.  Via that meeting, email communications and citizens contacting the SLA via our website we now have 15 trained volunteers and 6 more ready to be trained to conduct HAB Shoreline Surveillance in order to provide localized public notification in the event a HAB is confirmed.  The current volunteers are able to cover a large part of the entire shoreline, but more are need to cover the west side of the lake.  Please use the “contact us” tab on if you would like more information on this program or would be interested in participating in this program.  Starting on Monday, June 25th at 6:30pm at the Skaneateles Town Hall and continuing on the 4th Monday of every month, Mary Menapace will be convening a meeting of the SLA Watershed Community Citizens Task Force.  All Skaneateles Lake community residents are invited to attend and participate in working together to plan and implement citizen projects to restore, preserve and protect Skaneateles Lake.  The voice and unique talents of many our needed.

The SLA 2018 Annual Meeting is set to go this Saturday, June 30th, 5 – 7 pm at Lourdes Camp.  If you have not yet sent in your RSVP please do so TODAY.  Use the “contact us” tab at or call 315-685-9106.  If you have photos of your own days at Lourdes Camp or your children’s, bring a paper copy for the collage we will make to help Lourdes Camp celebrate their 75th Anniversary.

Please thank the following for Sponsoring the Milfoil Boat for a day or multiple days:  The Kaufman Foundation

Please thank the following co-sponsors of the Milfoil Boat:  Carolyn & John Tierney, Rhonda & Craig Richards, Donna & Raymond Kurlak, Joan & Michael Niswender, Lynn Boles & John Priest, Elizabeth Downes & Patrick Doyle, Sharon & Ed Barno, Deb & Joe Paduda, Molly & Bill Spalding, Katherine & Walter Sullivan, Maureen & Joseph Wilson, Barbara Egtvedt, Jill & Kurt Roswell, Anne & Elan Salzhauer, Amanda & Jonathan Lee, Margaret & Michael Kelly, Ann Hinchcliff, Julie & Joe Scuderi, Patricia & David Stone, Jane & Peter Hueber, Shelly & Richard Kraetz, Susan & Dana Hall, Kimberly & John Mezzalingua, Jane & Mason Howard, Jean Shook & Chris Johnson, Claire & Robert Howard, Ursula & David Hutton, Lisa & Michael Wetzel, Ann & David Lee, Beverly & David Jones, Margaret & Charles O’Neil, Mary & Paul Torrisi, Vanessa & Michael Yates, Bartlett Tree Experts, Eleanor & Ben Ware, Kate & Mont Pooley, Paula White, Maureen & Brian Harkins

Please thank the following sponsors of our Invasive Species Monitoring Stewards for a day:  Carolyn Kaye & Donald Babcock, Virginia Calvert & Robert Dean, Jen & Bill Warning, Rhonda & Craig Richards, Mary and Paul Torrisi, Michele Jenkins, Lisa Letizia & Paul Floreck, Jo & Bob Werner, Martha & William Cole, Thomas & Brenda Parkes, Jean Shook & Chris Johnson,

Please thank the following individuals whose contributions to the David Lee Hardy Fund also support our Invasive Species Monitoring Stewards:  Katherine & Dan Mezzalingua, Margaret Sennett, Pat & Paul Fallon, Mildred & Daniel Schultz, Christine & Edward Szemis, Nancy Murray.


Source:  Skaneateles Press

News from the Skaneateles Lake Association…Jump in and Join

Fran Rotunno Fish

Skaneateles Lake is open and people are jumping in…docks are being put in, the fishing and recreational boats are out there, kayakers and paddlers are enjoying the beauty of the early season on the lake, and soon, I am sure, we will see water-skiers in wet suits showing off their skills.

Do not let this peaceful early season scene erase from your memory the Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) of the fall of 2017 that defied the community’s long held belief that our lake was safe from such an event.  The ingredients for another HAB remain the same:  warm water, a stable water column, sun and nutrients in the lake.  The only ingredient we can control is the nutrients.

Responding to the HAB, the Skaneateles Lake Association develop a draft 4-part Action Plan in October 2017 and several community members with specific expertise to share jumped in and joined, spending many days and long hours with our board members community to get the specifics of the plan outlined and the cost estimated for Nutrient Management component of the SLA Plan.  With the announcement from the Governor that there would be state funding in the future for HAB Action Plans, our SLA effort became even more important as the data collection portion of our Nutrient Management Plan would provide significant support for state grant funding applications.  There will be more detail about all of this in our Newsletter which will be mailed out at the end of May and our 2018 Annual Meeting on June 30th.

Our Watershed Community Citizens Task Force has already held the first of its planned forums to educate the watershed community.  A forum on using Native Plantings to Improve Water Quality was held in April and on June 6th at 7 pm at the Skaneateles Hight School Auditorium you can jump in and join the forum on Harmful Algal Blooms & Water Quality with guest speaker and HAB expert Dr. Tim Davis.

Right now, every resident of the Skaneateles Lake watershed has the opportunity to jump in and join the effort to control the nutrient level of the lake water:  reduce lawn areas, plant native plants especially on the lake front, set your lawn mower at 2.5 – 3 inches (or have your lawn service do the same), leave lawn clippings in place to enrich the soil and encourage root growth which promotes soil retention and filtration (clippings DO NOT create thatch), protect your trees (do not tunnel mulch) as they are terrific filters of water, test your soil as most soil in the watershed does not need fertilization (testing kits available at the Skaneateles Town Office), avoid or limit the use of chemical pesticides, check with your septic service provider re an appropriate schedule for septic tank service depending on the size of your tank and your household, check out the grants available for septic system replacement or upgrade, and if you have waterfront, rake the leaves off your shoreline so that the higher summer water does not take them into the lake.

We are going to have other volunteer positions available for community members to conduct tributary and stream monitoring.  Information about these positions will be on our website and you could jump in and join in this active role to collect the data we need to plan for effective preventive interventions.

Plan to jump in and join Mid-Lakes Navigation’s celebration of their 50th Anniversary on June 2nd.  The event is not only a celebration of Mid-Lakes, but also a benefit for the SLA.

Please plan to jump in and join us at the SLA’s 2018 Annual Meeting on Saturday, June 30th from 5 – 7 pm at Lourdes Camp.  Details are on our website ( under the News/Events tab

Finally, if you live on the lake; if you boat, swim, kayak, sail or paddle the lake; if you fish the lake; if you drink the lake water; if the lake draws customers to your business; or if you just love the lake, shouldn’t you be a member of the Skaneateles Lake Association?  Jump in and join today.  You can join on line at or call 315-685-9106 for a registration form.

Please thank the following for Sponsoring the Milfoil Boat for a day:  Amy & Christopher Neumann, Sally & Robert Neumann, Victoria & Richard Meyer, Tacie & Roland Anderson, Jennifer Sutherland, Gretchen & Buzz Roberts, Marjorie & Kenneth Blanchard, Louisa & John Cohlan, Deborah & Edward Brennan, Libby & Arnold Rubenstein, Laurel Moranz & John MacAllister, Donna & William Davis, Dawn & Lew Allyn, Mary Ellen & Joseph Hennigan, Elsa & Peter Soderberg, Jeannie & Henry Slauson, Janet & Bill Allyn, Candace & John Marsellus, Maclaren & Rochelle Cummings, Elmer Richards & Sons, Jane & Peter Hueber, Nancy & Douglas McDowell.

We have many who have co-sponsored our Milfoil Boar, sponsored a Steward and contributed the Hardy Fund and we will be listing them in our next news article.          

Source:  Skaneateles Press

News from the SLA…We are Going Seriously Social

           Rachael DeWitt

During the winter months when the temperature drops to bone chilling, it can be hard to remember the warmth of the summer and the fun times had on the lake. Some of us spend our time inside bundled beneath a Snuggie, others brave the elements limiting as much exposure of skin as possible, and even others flee the snow entirely and move to a warmer state. Those of us who decided to stay in Central New York to embrace the cold, are now beginning to question our decisions and dream of tropical climates. It’s difficult to imagine that Skaneateles Lake, with a thick layer of ice out to the Country Club, will ever warm up to the point when we can swim in it again. During these frigid times, the Skaneateles Lake Association (SLA) is still operating under full swing thinking about the months ahead when once again we will be relaxing by the lake.

In order to continue to reach our audience during the months when we lose more than half of our lake’s population, we are beginning to take our message to new platforms. Keep an eye out for our presence on social media. We have accounts on Facebook (@Skaneateles Lake Association), Instagram (@skaneateleslakeassociation), and Twitter (@SkanLakeAssoc). On these accounts we will keep our audience informed of SLA events, the current status of the quality of our lake, important New York State policy actions, introduce you to our amazing team, and much more! Through these accounts we welcome our followers to send us a message sharing their concerns about the lake, share pictures of potential threats to the lake, beautiful pictures of the lake, and questions about the status of our work. Please give us a follow, share us with your Skaneateles and local friends, and invite those friends to like our social media pages. The more people we reach, the more effective our mission becomes. If you want to feature us in your posts tag us or use the hashtags: #SLA #skaneateleslakeassociation #clearlakepurewater.

Since the beginning of February, we have been taking measures to increase our following. In this short amount of time we have made some great progress. As of February 12th, our following has increased on Facebook from 186 to 264, on Instagram from 580 to 663, and we recently created a Twitter account.

Each platform has a link to our website ( where our followers can learn more about our mission, become a member, and see what we are currently doing to protect our lake. If you are not yet a member of this incredible lake association, head straight to our website to sign up. Membership dues and donations are tax deductible. This is an important year to become a member with the Harmful Algal Bloom that was found in the lake last summer.

We are hoping these platforms will help us spread our message with more individuals, increase our member base, and engage a younger generation while informing them about the importance of keeping our lake clean. Help do your part by giving us a follow, sharing with your friends, and becoming a member. Thank you for your support.

Thinking ahead to the summer, please save Saturday, June 30th from 5 – 7 pm for the 2018 SLA annual meeting at Lourdes Camp.

The 2018 memberships and additional donations of the following will be sponsoring the Milfoil Boar for a day in the coming season:  Margaret & Angelo Scopelianos, Susan & Curt Andersson, Lynn Cleary & David Duggan, Johanna & Gianfranco Frittelli, Pam & Dug Hamlin.   The Milfoil Boat will be co-sponsored in the coming season by the 2018 memberships and additional donations from Mark Congel, Deborah & William Delaney, Jacqueline Bays & Joseph McCarthy, Kathleen & David Zappata, George Ann & Edwin Bock, Linda & Paul Cohen, Patty Orr.  We have also received Invasive Species Monitoring Steward sponsorships for the coming season from Ashley & Dennis Longwell, Anne & William Lynn, Meredith & Paul Torrisi, Elizabeth & Joseph Wood and Jacqueline Bays & Joseph McCaffrey.

Source:  Skaneateles Press



News from the Skaneateles Lake Association…..Membership Matters

Fran Rotunno Fish

There is much to say about the 2017 Skaneateles Lake Association Membership.  On the very positive side 823 individuals/families joined this SLA in 2017 which is 86 more memberships than 2016 (about a 12% increase).  Additionally, on the positive side, 109 individuals/families joined in 2017 who were first time members and a good number of those came in late in the season …after the bloom.  Hopefully, a realization of the importance of the SLA to the health of the lake was an impetus for new memberships.  We hope to see all 108 of those memberships rejoining in 2018.  Finally, we are pleased to be able to report and commend the 109 individuals/families who have been members of the SLA for SEVEN consecutive years starting in 2011 through 2017.  Sustained memberships are the backbone of funding for a non-profit organization and we hope that all 823 of our 2017 members will rejoin in 2018.

We are disappointed that 86 individuals/families who joined in 2016 did not rejoin in 2017.  If they had joined our membership for 2018 would have been over 900!  We hope that each of those 86 individuals/families will respond to a letter sent to them recently reminding them that we need them back for 2018.   THE MOST DISAPPOINTING MEMBERSHIP MATTER IS THAT OVER 400 INDIVIDUALS/FAMILIES WITH PROPERTY ON THE LAKEFRONT OR PROPERTY WITH LAKE RIGHTS HAVE NEVER JOINED THE SLA.

Membership dues and the additional donations that support the efforts of the SLA are very important.  Being a steward of the lake, keeping eyes on the lake and following the “if you see something, say something” mantra of public safety is important, but we need every member to also be on the “membership outreach team” and encourage membership in the Skaneateles Lake Association.  We have available membership registration forms in an envelope with the following message printed on it:  “ If you live on the lake; if you boat, swim, kayak, sail or paddle the lake; if you fish the lake; if you drink the lake water; if the lake draws customers to your business; or if you just love the lake, shouldn’t you be a member of the Skaneateles Lake Association?  Join us today.  Registration Form & Mailing Envelope Enclosed or Go to   Thank You!”.  If you would like a few of these envelopes to use to encourage membership in the SLA advise us via the “contact us” tab at and they will be sent to you to use.

Please thank the following for their sponsorship of the Milfoil Boat: Ellen Brown & Carl Schramm, Alexandra & Richard Nicklas, Johanna & Gianfranco Frittelli, the Columbian Foundation, Norma & Dave McCarthy, Karen & Paul Black, Lynn & Gardner McLean, Nicole & Michael Falcone, Patience Brewster & Holly Gregg, and The Sherwood Inn.

Please thank the following for their co-sponsorship of the Milfoil Boat:  Kathleen & Ben Tarantino, Nellie Ramsden & Kenneth Hyde, Erica and Ken Byrne, Linda & Bruce Kenan, Ann & Gary Tyndall, Mary Beth and William Gleason, Annette & Peter Becker, Patricia & Ralph Troisi, Carol & Tom Fletcher, Christina Castle, Sandra Skiff, Ann Hinchcliff, JoDean & Timothy Orcutt, Meg O’Connell & Eric Allyn, Mary Jane & Gary Lowery, Deborah & Joseph Augustine, Beth & Bob Filiczkowski, Linda & Russell Ruthig, Lynn Bonniver,  Mary Pat & Dan Suits, Bev & Steve White, Gina & Geoffrey Wickwire, Nancy & Guido Van der Ven, Judith Krieger, Barbara & John Spain, Tammy & Stephen Down,  Nancy & Guy Easter,  and The Sherwood Inn.

Please thank the following for their sponsorship an Invasive Species Monitoring Steward for a day:  Robert Scheer, Catherine & Steven Fedrizzi, Emily & James Johnson, Mary & Richard Kokosa, Diane Forney, Julie Stafford & Michael Boudreau, Enid & Gabor Racz, Bob Honold, Emma & Patrick Delmonico, Susan Phipps Littlehales and The Sherwood Inn.

Please thank the following for their donations to the Hardy Fund which helps to support the Invasive Species Monitoring Steward Program:  Edward Spencer, Edward Carsky, Katherine McCarthy, Dawn & John Altmeyer, Martha Stephens, Pam & John Pidhirny, Beverly Quimby, Nancy Murray, Kendra & Donald Witter, Beverlee Akerblom, Robert Scheer, Gracia Kozio, Camille & Thomas Potter, Peggy & John Manring, Mary Jacqueline Keady and The Sherwood Inn.

You can jump in and join the SLA today at or call 315-685-9106 and request a member registration form.

Source:  Skaneateles Press 






News From the SLA…Looking Back and Looking Forward

Fran Rotunno Fish

The Board of Directors of the SLA, SLA members and the entire lake community know that 2017 will be a year to remember ….for many reasons.

The year begin with the Board of Directors making the decision to purchase another acre of matting to be prepared by John Menapace with cable/rebar to hold it in place so that during the season we could increase matting of milfoil patches from 5 to 6 acres.  This was a $10,000 decision that could only be made with the confidence that our ANNUAL membership dues and additional donations would grow to support the decision and still fund our total Milfoil Control Program and the Invasive Species Monitoring Steward Program.  With intensive membership promotion efforts, the lake community responded.

The Board determined that it needed to enhance its efforts to protect the lake from additional invasive plants and animals by expanding the Steward Program season into the Fall and beginning it earlier in the Spring (when our student stewards are generally not available) AND to develop written materials and audio-visual programs that we could use on our website, at community meetings and via social media. To accomplish this effort the SLA would need seed funding and it was decided to apply for a grant from the Central New York Community Foundation.  A group of SLA Board members worked together to complete the grant application and in June 2017 the Board was advised that the grant had been approved.

As a result, we were able to hire 4 adult Stewards to be on site at the DEC, the Town of Skaneateles and the Town of Scott boat launches during the Fall season and over 400 boats were inspected to ensure no potentially invasive plants or animals were transported from other bodies of water into Skaneateles Lake.  Continuing an expanded season for our Invasive Species Monitoring Stewards can only continue with an increasing ANNUAL SLA membership as grant seed money is provided to get something started not maintain long term programs.

The SLA has also started working with Carrie Lazarus, who is volunteering her services, to produce a video about Skaneateles Lake emphasizing what makes it special, how invasive species will continue to be a threat and what everyone needs to do to help prevent the introduction of new or additional invasive species into the lake.  We look forward to the completion of this video for widespread use.

In July, we held our 7th annual SLA meeting on the property of Bill and Janet Stinson in the Highlands of Skaneateles.  Over 250 people joined together in their commitment to the continued beauty of Skaneateles Lake and its clear, pure water.  At that meeting, perhaps prophetically, Bill Stinson spoke of his hope we would all work together and that the landscape would remain green and the lake water blue.

AND THEN IN SEPTEMBER THE HARMFUL BLUE GREEN ALGAL BLOOM APPEARED and the Skaneateles Lake Association was the first responder, collecting the sample, getting it initially tested and alerting all the government agencies.

The SLA Board immediately went into action and consulting with community experts to develop an action plan and the workgroups described in that action plan have been hard at work and gathering participation from committed community members.

The Watershed Nutrient Management Workgroup chaired by SLA board members, Bob Werner and Bill Dean, tasked to study and control nutrient management and runoff, has been meeting regularly to develop a plan to control input of nutrients into Skaneateles Lake at levels that would greatly reduce the probability of a harmful algal bloom (HAB).

The Watershed Community Involvement Workgroup, chaired by Mary Menapace, is developing plans for community forums, literature and programs.  The plans will offer every member of the lake community the information needed and the opportunity to do the right thing to care for the watershed and the lake and step up to the plate to help conduct these programs and practices on an ongoing basis.

The Watershed Governance Workgroup headed up by Bob Liegel, Esq. and Rich Hole, Esq. is working to establish a Watershed Council of all the watershed municipalities to speak with one voice regarding watershed rules and regulations, and enforcement.  This would help unify the entire watershed and expedite much of the work that needs to be accomplished.

The opportunity to discuss the seriousness of the Harmful Algal Bloom and the SLA’s commitment to respond to it was provided at a community meeting hosted by the Falcone Family and organized by the SLA on October 18th.  Community representatives from across the Lake Community and village, town, county and state representatives from every level gathered and gave insight to the issues and potential for action.  With the presence of the Basil Seggos, Commissioner of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation it was a powerful meeting and a powerful vehicle for gaining the close attention of the Governor.

This Action Plan and its 3 Workgroups have become all the more important with the announcement by the Governor of significant funding for the protection of 12 NYS Lakes, including Skaneateles Lake, from Harmful Algal Blooms.  While we anticipate that this funding and the actions taken will be implemented under the State DEC we know that Aimee Clinkhammer from the Finger Lake Watershed Hub, who has already been working with the SLA Watershed Nutrient Management Workgroup will be the DEC coordinator for Skaneateles Lake.  As such we expect our Watershed Nutrient Management Workgroup will continue to be a key member of the team.

The Board of Directors of the SLA reminds the entire Skaneateles Lake community that we need their continued ANNUAL membership and the memberships of many more, especially lakefront property owners who have not previously joined the SLA, to continue to carry out all of our ongoing plans to protect the treasure that is Skaneateles Lake.

You can join the Skaneateles Lake Association online at or call 315-685-9106 and ask that a registration form and return envelope be mailed to you.

Source:  Skaneateles Press


From the SLA: Addressing harmful algae blooms

SLA News Update on HABs by Paul Torrisi

Following the detection and reporting of the recent Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) on Skaneateles Lake in September, the SLA continued to take the lead in organizing a plan of action to “control the controllables”. We all quickly learned that the “toxic bloom” we experienced was not an “algae” bloom but a response from a tiny bacteria that has existed in every body of freshwater on the planet for billions of years, i.e., cyanobacteria (aka blue-green algae).

The nutrient loading that occurred with the unprecedented 25 inches of rain in the spring and early summer creating a turbid, debris strewn lake for most of July, was a set up for what occurred in September-an almost unheard of 12 day period of perfect calm, higher water temperatures, and nothing but sunlight! These tiny organisms flourished in a nutrient rich lake in a “perfect storm” scenario and released their toxins, resulting in an un-drinkable, un-swimmable lake for months.

The “dagger in the heart” was a restaurant in Syracuse with its window sign “bragging” that they don’t get their drinking water from Skaneateles Lake!!!

This Four Point Action Plan from the SLA was activated in October, a few weeks into the toxic bloom:

1) Nutrient Management Committee to study and implement control of runoff/nutrient loading into the lake – a daunting and long term task! A group of experts was recruited by SLA’s Bob Werner and Bill Dean and have already met twice, and are continuing to study on a daily basis what needs to be done to reach their goal: “develop and ensure the implementation of a plan to reduce the input of nutrients into Skaneateles Lake to levels that will greatly reduce the probability of a harmful algal bloom.

This is a very complex issue with perhaps a multitude of contributing factors to the HAB, especially on a “low phosphorous” lake. Do invasive species such as zebra mussels and Eurasian milfoil play a role? Stay tuned for lots more information from this group!

In addition to Bob Werner (SLA) and Bill Dean (SLA), this task force includes Rich Abbott(City of Syr.), Mark Burger(Onon. Cty SWCD), Aimee Clinkhammer (DEC), Mary Sennett (SLA), Neil Murphy (SLA/ESF), Richard Wiles (SLA), Zack Odell (FLLT), and Brian Madigan (SLA).

2) Community Involvement Committee headed up by SLA’s Mary Menapace.

This group is focusing on what we can do as individual stakeholders and as a community, immediately and long term, to have a lasting impact on the health of Skaneateles Lake.

Mary is already working with Annette Becker writing a “best practices” booklet on how each individual can positively and negatively affect the Lake’s health with our daily routine and management of our own properties.

Carol Stokes-Cawley (Sustainable Skaneateles) along with Deb Hole and Jim Huber are helping with the editing of this booklet which will be in both hard copy and Email versions for widespread distribution.

Holly Gregg (CPCS), Debbie Bobbett (school curricula), along with Janice Wiles, Julie Scuderi, Claire Howard, Neil Murphy, Rick Garrett (H.S. Environmental Club), David LoPiccolo (adopt a stream), and Deirdre Aureden have all volunteered to help Mary coordinate community involvement.

Mary’s plan for citizen stakeholder’s involvement:

One-education and outreach in the form not only of printed material, but starting this winter with community forums on Best Management Practices (BMPs) on and near the watershed.

Two-serve as a resource for implementing these BMPs-such as septic maintenance, lawncare, gardening, design with natives, without using potentially toxic pesticides and fertilizers-offering guidance on direction, funding, and even use of volunteer experts.

Three-this SLA Committee to help coordinate other local Agencies (Cornell Coop. Extension, CPCS, Sustainable Skaneateles, local schools and municipalities, the City and all 3 counties, farmers, DEC) to expand and amplify their good programming, and to all work in concert toward the common goal of keeping the lake healthy.

3) Watershed Governance Committee. This committee is headed up by Bob Liegel and Rich Hole, working with Jim Lanning, Joe Hennigan, and Patty Orr.

Their goal is to study and develop a governance structure for implementing a watershed management plan to protect Skaneateles Lake. The governance structure would be designed to facilitate collaboration among the counties, towns, and the village in the watershed and the City of Syracuse to develop and implement a watershed management plan (using the work product of our other two committees) and to speak with one voice regarding rules, regulations, and their enforcement!

To date this SLA Committee has reviewed governance structures used to manage and protect other lake watersheds, spoken with representatives of these governance structures, spoken with State officials involved with protecting water supplies, and met twice in committee to review and discuss their findings.

This SLA Watershed Governance Committee’s success is critical since implementation of both the Nutrient Management and Community Involvement initiatives will be difficult, if not impossible, without the cooperation of all these stakeholders.

4) SLA Fundraising to establish a reserve fund in the SLA to address specific HAB related (and invasive species) issues as they come up, and support a full time SLA Executive Director (ED), helping to coordinate all these activities in the watershed, promoting education, and serving as a constant SLA liaison among all the stakeholders.

The ED could also be instrumental in helping with other critical SLA programs such as the robust and ever-growing Stewardship Program in the lake watershed, and the Eurasian milfoil control program which will be on-going in its 12th season.

The growing scientific evidence suggesting a correlation between zebra mussels and HABs in low nutrient lakes such as ours helps to point out how these or any invasive species can have a negative impact on the health of a lake (and regional economy) years after their introduction. The fight must go on !!

Source:  Skaneateles Press



News from the SLA: Next Steps after the Algal Bloom

Paul Torrisi

Following SLA’s very informative HAB Conference at the Hilton Garden Inn, Auburn, October 18th, much is in the works. That luncheon conference hosted by the Michael Falcone Family brought together over 100 folks from scientific experts on toxic algal blooms, representatives from local, City, County governments, Congressman Katko’s, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand’s, and Governor Cuomo’s offices.

 The NYS DEC was also well represented by Commissioner Seggos and many of his local and state colleagues. Concerned citizens were also in attendance.

 The agricultural community was represented well by Jim Greenfield, who gave an excellent presentation of Best Management Practices by farmers working closely with the County Soil and Water Districts.

 Much lively discussion with Qs & As from the audience and distinguished panel assembled by the SLA, followed. When all was said and done, however, the lingering question remains: FLUKE or NEW NORMAL?

 This toxic blue-green algal bloom was a shocker to us all! It falls under the “perfect storm” scenario with the unprecedented 25 inches of rainfall in spring/summer followed by the also rare prolonged calm, sunshine, and increased water temperatures, lasting almost two weeks in September. The cyanobacteria loved it! They had all the food from the increased sediment they could possibly wish for.  Presto- a green, unswimmable, undrinkable lake with lingering toxins.

 SLA decided to jump into action and not wait to see if this reoccurs next year or again in 5 years. The fact remains that our climate patterns are changing with temperatures trending up and more precipitation in CNY as rainfall rather than a more deliberate, slow melting spring snowpack, thus creating a recipe for repetitive severe runoff into the lake with its nutrient loading.

 So, SLA, hoping to function as a catalyst in this equation, came up with a 4 POINT ACTION PLAN as an attempt to try and “control the controllables”:

 1)  A Task Force Committee to study and control Nutrient Management and runoff into the lake, especially during the more frequent monster storms. Their goal is to develop a plan to control input of nutrients into Skaneateles Lake at levels that would greatly reduce the probability of a harmful algal bloom (HAB). Working with Bob Werner and Bill Dean are Rich Abbott (City of Syr. Water Dept.), Mark Burger (Onon.County Soil&Water Consv.District), Aimee Clinkhammer (DEC), Neil Murphy (ESF), Richard Wiles(Senior VP for Program Strategy & Integration at Climate Central,Inc.), Brian Madigan (Environmental Consultant), Zack O’Dell (FingerLakesLandTrust).

 2)  A Task Force Committee for Community Involvement. This is headed up by Mary Menapace .  Many have offered to help and as projects develop many more will be needed to assist with such things as publications, seminars and the like, to show citizens what they can do with their own properties on promoting a healthy watershed. Additionally, community “cove keepers “ and “adopt a stream” programs will be promoted. Also, many innovative policies regarding attitudes to lawn care, use of pesticides/fertilizers in the watershed, school programs, developing “watershed wise” logos and awards for homeowners and contractors- all to help keep unwanted nutrients and sediments from entering the lake.

 3)  Fund raising to establish a reserve fund in the SLA to address specific issues and/or projects as they come up, assist in work necessary to apply for larger governmental grants, and also to support a full time watershed management coordinator to help expedite ALL of the above.

 4)  Finally, a special SLA committee headed up by Bob Liegel,Esq. and Rich Hole,Esq. to look into establishing a Watershed Council or Intermunicipal Organization of all the watershed municipalities to speak with one voice regarding watershed rules and regulations, and enforcement ! This would help unify the entire watershed and expedite much of the work that needs to be accomplished.

 Needless to say, we, as a CNY and Skaneateles Lake community have a daunting task ahead of us but the resources may become available from government and private sources to help pull this all together. All we can do as individual stakeholders is take a “personal pledge” to do everything possible to keep the lake blue, not green.

 To be continued….




News from the SLA -What Now? and What Next?

The SLA has received many inquiries via our website and our board members have been asked directly “now that we have had this harmful algal bloom what do we do now and what do we do next?”.  Our board along with other stakeholders have spent considerable time since the harmful bloom was first identified consulting with and getting information from government agencies and science experts.  At the invitation of the Falcone Family the SLA organized a forum of governmental agency representatives and scientists to develop a 3 phase action plan with the intent to also work closely with the city and county to develop the watershed plan for Skaneateles Lake.

For the future, the SLA is collaborating with ESF and helping to support ESF’s testing of a commercial in-home testing strip that could be used to test for the presence of toxin in a home’s water supply.  But right now, citizens should be contacting their county health department for advice on usage of water from private water lines in Skaneateles Lake.  This could pressure those health departments to conduct their own lake-wide testing.

The literature we have reviewed and the water experts we have consulted recommend that:

  1. In-home systems include intakes that are as far from the shoreline and a deep as possible;
  2. In-home filtration systems consist of a 20 micron filter followed by a 5 micron filter followed by an ultraviolet or chlorinating system.
  3. Filters should be changed regularly. This will provide a sanitizing system, but it is not a system that removes toxins unless a chlorinating system was in place that used 10X the level of chlorine used in a sanitizing system. This would create strong chlorine tastes to the water.

Please note that there is no good data that shows that residential granulated carbon filters are of value in removing toxin.  There are reverse osmosis systems that may be helpful in removing toxin but they are expensive, require high maintenance and must be set up to ensure that the rejected effluent with the toxins does not go back into the lake.

Right now, every citizen of the lake community can support the effort to reduce nutrient loading of the lake, which along with sun, warmer water and no wind comprise the recipe for algal blooms. Two simple steps we can take right now are

  1. avoid the use of lawn fertilizers and,
  2. if you are a lake front owner collect shoreline and beachfront leaves and compost or mulch them away from the lake front or bring them to the transfer station.

Lake front owners can also begin to plan a buffer zone of plantings for the shoreline to plant in the spring.  There are many resources for these plantings and if you need information on them just send us a message on our website,, via the “contact us” tab.


Please thank the following individuals whose generous donations, in addition to their annual membership fees, supported the Milfoil Boats and our Invasive Species Monitoring Stewward Program.  We simply could not have done what we are doing this year and plan to do next year without them.

Sponsors of the Milfoil Boat for a Day or multiple days:  The Allyn Family Foundation, Chancea & Donald Sundman, Gretchen & William Roberts,

Co-sponsors of the Milfoil Boar for multiple days:  Mark Congel, Nancy & Douglas McDowell, Skaneateles Winding Way Association, Margaret Tourville, Deborah & Gary Hind, Cookie & Jack Helmer, Mary & Joe Gaffney, David Graham, Ten Mile Point South Cottage Homeowners Association.

Co-sponsors of the Milfoil Boat for a day: Mary Marshall, Leah & Thomas Valenti, Anonymous 19, Eileen Murphy & Charles Ryan, Blue Water Grill & the Grey Goose (Dan & Lisa Riordan) Beth & David Conley, Lynn & Chris Kelly, Carol & Alex Protasiewicz, Paul Alexander, Anna Marie & Carl Gerst. Lorraine Gudas, Sharon & John Paddock, Raziur Rahman, Patricia Orr.

Sponsors of a Steward for a day:  Kathleen & Daniel Mezzalingua, Laura & Sean O’Keefe, Susan & Frederic Jakes, Daisy &  Michael Bongiovanni, Emily & Kristopher Konrad, Jessica & Toby Millman, Nancy & James Marquardt, Mary Anne & Don Winfield, Live-Lake-Love, Merrily & Gerhart Heyer, Patricia & Bruce Texeira, Sandra Loli & Richard Boni, Patricia Woodcock, Casmir Bobowski, Virginia & Jeffrey Stannard, Lorraine Gudas, Sharon & John Paddock, Raziur Rahman, Patricia Orr.

Contributors to the David Lee Hardy Fund:  Lorraine Gudas, Sharon & John Paddock, Raziur Rahman, Patricia Orr, Deborah & Joe Paduda, Paula White, Demetra Vounas, Mark & Lou Bitz, Nancy Peck, Mary & Ed Blum, Marianne Lont, Sharon & Steve Songer, MB & Jeffrey Bronk, Amy Wiles, Margaret Sennett, Barbara & Robert Amsler, Mary Lou & Michael Cooper, Frances & John McNerney, Tracey Davenport, William Kopp.

Source:  Skaneateles Press




Facts on Skaneateles Lake Blue Green Algal Bloom (HAB or Harmful Algal Bloom) September 2017

From the Town of Skaneateles       October 20, 2017

Skaneateles Lake  Algae Update  

 Those who use water from a private lake intake must be sure to read the section of this release that is pertinent to them.

JOINT STATEMENT FROM ONONDAGA COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT AND CITY OF SYRACUSE DEPARTMENT OF WATER Following the reports of algal blooms on Skaneateles Lake, the New York State Department of Health, Onondaga County Health Department, and the City of Syracuse Department of Water continue to work collaboratively to collect samples to determine whether there were levels of algal toxin that could impact the municipalities that use Skaneateles Lake as a public drinking water supply.

Samples tested today at the state’s Wadsworth Lab in Albany found non-detectable results inside the City of Syracuse Gatehouse located in the Village of Skaneateles. This level is consistent with prior reported sampling at the Gatehouse and below the health advisory levels for both adults and sensitive populations. Results also showed non-detectable levels of toxin for all other samples of water that are representative of drinking water reaching customers of the system, including the City of Syracuse, the Town of Dewitt, the Village of Skaneateles, the Town of Skaneateles, the Town of Elbridge, the Village of Elbridge and the Village of Jordan. Residents in the Village of Skaneateles and the other municipalities which use this drinking water source can continue to drink the water.

The New York State Department of Health, Onondaga County Health Department and the City of Syracuse Department of Water will continue enhanced monitoring through daily testing across the system until all samples consistently return non-detectable results. State and local officials will remain vigilant on this issue and continue our efforts to update and inform communities in Onondaga County.

Onondaga County Health Department reminds residents who draw water directly from Skaneateles Lake through near-shore PRIVATE INTAKES to take the following precautions:

• DO NOT USE the water for potable purposes such as drinking, making infant formula, making ice, brushing teeth, preparing food, washing dishes, or for pets.

• Do not use the water for bathing when algae blooms are present near your water intake

To be clear, these recommendations apply only to residents with private intakes; in-home treatments such as boiling, ultraviolet radiation (UV), and water filtration units do not remove the toxins associated with harmful algal blooms.

Justin Sayles County Executive Joanie Mahoney 315-435-3516 @OnondagaCounty


You can view the most recent Lake Water Service Illustration and report at


From the Town of Skaneateles       September 22, 2017

Blue Green Algae Update For Homes With Private Intakes on Skaneateles Lake

Onondaga County Health Department, Joanne M. Mahoney, County Executive 

Indu Gupta, MD, MPH, Commissioner of Health

John H. Mulroy Civic Center · 421 Montgomery Street, Syracuse, NY 13202

Phone 315.435.3155 · Fax 315.435.5720

Onondaga County Health Department reminds residents who draw water directly from Skaneateles Lake through near-shore PRIVATE INTAKES to take the following precautions:

  • DO NOT USE the water for potable purposes such as drinking, making infant formula, making ice, brushing teeth, preparing food, washing dishes, or for pets.
  • Do not use the water for bathing when algae blooms are present near your water intake

To be clear, these recommendations apply only to residents with private intakes; in-home treatments such as boiling, ultraviolet radiation (UV), and water filtration units do not remove the toxins associated with harmful algal blooms.

The Health Department recommends taking the following additional precautions:

Learn more about blue-green algae:

  • Do not swim, wade, or fish near algae blooms or surface scums
  • Do not let dogs wade, drink the water, or walk on algae-contaminated shoreline debris
  • Rinse yourself and pets with clean water if exposed to algae
  • Anyone who experiences skin or eye irritation or gastrointestinal illness should contact their health care provider.

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* Blue-Green Algae and Health:


From the Town of Skaneateles       September 22, 2017

Blue-Green Algae

Some types of algae can produce toxins that can be harmful to people and animals. Algal blooms that produce toxins are known as Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). Environmental conditions that contribute to the formation of HABs in bodies of water include excess nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen), abundant sunlight, calm water conditions, and warmer temperatures.

This summer, HABs have been identified in many New York State lakes including the recent findings on Skaneateles Lake. Skaneateles Lake is an unfiltered source of public drinking water for the Town and Village of Skaneateles, Town and Village of Elbridge, Village of Jordan, City of Syracuse and portions of the Towns of Onondaga and Dewitt.

Know It Surface water that is discolored with a paint-like or filmy appearance or floating scum should always be avoided as they are potentially harmful. Images of these types of blooms as well as non-harmful blooms can be viewed by clicking here. Weather influences where harmful algae blooms will occur. During extended periods of calm and sunny days, blooms can accumulate at the surface in any location. Wind and waves may cause them to form along shorelines or in protected areas. Shifts in wind direction can move a bloom from one location to another. Periods of cool rainy weather can often lead to the disappearance of a bloom

Avoid It Always stay away from blooms in surface waters. Never swim, fish, boat, wade or eat fish caught in areas with blooms. Bloom or no bloom, never drink, prepare food, cook, or make ice with untreated or improperly treated individual surface water supplies. During a bloom, individual surface water supplies should not be used for showering, bathing, or washing dishes even if treatment is provided. Public water supplies that draw water from surface water are treated, disinfected and monitored. The public would be notified if public water supplies are impacted by algal blooms.

Report It If you think that a bloom may be harmful and is present on Skaneateles Lake, the Onondaga County Health Department asks that you report it to the Skaneateles Lake Watershed Inspection Program at (315) 685-6486. If the bloom is present on another water body in Onondaga County, please report it to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) at

Frequently Asked Questions:

How is the public drinking water being monitored?

  • The City of Syracuse, the Onondaga County Health Department and the New York State Department of Health are monitoring the public drinking water for the presence of toxins associated with harmful algal blooms. Samples of the public drinking water are collected and sent to the New York State Department of Health laboratory on a regular basis during the harmful algal bloom season to determine if toxins are present.

If toxins associated with harmful algal blooms are in the public drinking water, is the water safe to drink?

  • The Onondaga County Health Department will notify the public when alternative water should be used for drinking, making infant formula, making ice, brushing teeth and preparing food.
  • The Onondaga County Health Department in consultation with the New York State Department of Health will issue necessary advisories for drinking water when levels exceed normal limits.

What could the effects on my health be if I drink public drinking water with toxins associated with harmful algal blooms above the levels set by the EPA?

  • Symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, skin, eye or throat irritation, allergic reactions or breathing difficulties may occur after drinking water with elevated levels of toxins associated with harmful algal blooms. These symptoms are very similar to symptoms from other gastrointestinal illnesses or allergic reactions. Stop drinking the water and seek medical attention if you or a family member experience these symptoms.
  • Gastroenteritis which may include diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, and liver and kidney damage have been reported in humans following short-term exposure to toxins associated with harmful algal blooms in drinking water. However, more research is needed to fully understand the health effects.

I’m pregnant (or planning to be). Will consuming the public drinking water toxins effect my unborn child?

  • There is limited information available in the scientific literature on the potential for health effects from ingesting microcystin, the primary toxin associated with Harmful Algal Blooms, during pregnancy.
  • The Onondaga County Health Department in consultation with the New York State Department of Health will advise pregnant women not to drink the water if levels exceed normal limits.

If I live near a lake experiencing a harmful algal bloom, is my private well water safe to drink, bathe, wash dishes, etc.?

  • If a private well is a properly installed drilled well, it is unlikely to be impacted by Harmful Algal Blooms present in the lake. If the well is a shallow well installed along the shore of a lake experiencing a harmful algal bloom, toxins associated with the bloom may be present in the well water. In-home treatments such as boiling, disinfecting water with chlorine or ultraviolet (UV), and water filtration units do not remove the toxins associated with harmful algal blooms. There are treatment units on the market that have been shown to reduce microcystin levels in water, but it is not known if the microcystins would be reduced to a level considered safe. Since individual water supplies are not regulated or monitored, it is not known if there is a health risk to drinking the water from your private well.

If I draw my water directly from the lake experiencing a bloom, is my water safe to drink, wash dishes, etc.?

  • Never drink untreated surface water, whether or not harmful algal blooms are present. At this time, even if the water is treated by in-home treatment units, DO NOT DRINK water drawn directly from the lake and DO NOT USE the water for making infant formula, making ice, brushing teeth, preparing food, and washing dishes when blooms are present. In-home treatments such as boiling, ultraviolet radiation (UV), and water filtration units do not remove the toxins associated with harmful algal blooms. There are treatment units on the market that have been shown to reduce microcystin levels in water, but it is not known if the microcystins would be reduced to a level considered safe. Since individual water supplies are not regulated or monitored, it is not known if there is a health risk to drinking the water from your private water supply.
  • The Onondaga County Health Department in consultation with the New York State Department of Health will advise those drawing water directly from Skaneateles Lake when testing shows undetectable levels of toxin in the Lake.

Can my children and pets play in the lake water if it is experiencing a harmful algal bloom?

  • People, pets, and livestock should avoid contact with water that is discolored or has floating scum on the surface. If contact does occur, rinse the exposed skin thoroughly with clean water.
  • Exposure to harmful algal blooms can be deadly for pets, especially if they drink water with harmful algal blooms or when they lick their fur after swimming in waters with harmful algal blooms.

What health effects can I expect to see if I was recreating in lake water experiencing a bloom?

  • Recreational exposures can occur while swimming, wading, fishing, or boating in areas with harmful algal blooms if this water is touched or swallowed, or when airborne droplets are inhaled. Exposure to harmful algal blooms can cause diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting; skin, eye, or throat irritation; and allergic reactions or breathing difficulties. Seek medical attention if you experience these symptoms after exposure to harmful algal blooms.

Have any health problems been reported by people after recreating in water bodies experiencing harmful algal blooms?

  • According to the New York State Department of Health, generally there have been infrequent reports of illnesses associated with recreational exposure to harmful algal blooms, and most of illnesses reported were minor. Since the symptoms from harmful algal bloom exposure are very similar to symptoms from other gastrointestinal illnesses or allergic reactions, we expect that bloom-related illnesses are under-reported.

What health effects may my pet experience if they were exposed to harmful algal blooms?

  • Symptoms for animals include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, excessive salivation or drooling, stumbling, seizures, convulsions, paralysis, disorientation, inactivity, excessive tiredness, fast heart rate and difficulty breathing. Seek veterinary care if your pet experiences these symptoms after exposure to harmful algal blooms.

What do harmful algal blooms look like? How will I be able to identify these blooms if I am on the lake?

  • Discolored water, often with a paint-like appearance, with or without floating scum or mats may be evidence of a Harmful Algal Bloom. Pictures of Harmful Algal Blooms can be found here:
  • It is hard to tell a Harmful Algal Bloom from other non-harmful algae blooms. Therefore the Onondaga County Health Department recommends that you avoid wading, swimming, boating, and fishing in waterbodies that are discolored or has scum or floating mats present.

What should I do if I see a Harmful Algal Bloom on a body of water?

  • If you think that a bloom may be harmful and is present on Skaneateles Lake, the Onondaga County Health Department asks that you report it to the Skaneateles Lake Watershed Inspection Program at (315) 685-6486. If the bloom is present on another water body in Onondaga County, please report it to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) at


From the Skaneateles Lake Association (SLA)       September 19, 2017

 Facts on Skaneateles Lake Blue Green Algal Bloom  (HAB or Harmful Algal Bloom)

September 2017


1) Suspicious green algae were found suspended in water at the lakefront of a Skaneateles Lake Association( SLA )member at Widewaters, about 6 miles south on the East side of the lake on Tuesday, 9/12/17. This property owner notified the SLA by Email and a team of SLA Board members inspected the site.

This event did not appear very suspicious for a HAB as there was only a visible suspension of green particles in the water (this had been noticed before in recent years but usually was short lived ). However, this time a decision was made by Bob Werner and Buzz Roberts to go ahead and take samples just to be sure, since the SLA team had the equipment and expertise from participating in the statewide CSLAP lake monitoring program on a regular basis.

 2) The sample was sent to Greg Boyer’s Lab at ESF as directed by the DEC . Greg is a well known expert on HABs and runs one of the few labs capable of such analysis in the state. On Friday 9/15 the results revealed a positive indication of a HAB with elevated levels of blue-green algae (60 ug BGA-chl/liter), well above the DEC alert level of 10-20 ug BGA chl/liter. This was immediately reported to SLA Board  member, Dr. Bob Werner. Toxin testing available on Saturday, 9/16 showed an elevated microcystin level at 12 ug/L, at or slightly above the DEC alert threshold for recreational contact (swimming) and well above the level allowed in tap water.

 The same day there was widespread visible green scum along the lakeshore. This was quite worrisome since the original samples taken by the SLA appeared to be a dilute suspension of green particles in the water column which had not yet coalesced into a green scum or paint-like appearance on the surface of the water.

 Immediately, representatives from the SLA met with Rich Abbott at the City Water Dept. in Skaneateles and with the Skaneateles. Town Supervisor, Jim Lanning and  Town Clerk, Janet Aaron. Microcystis colonies were again confirmed in the City Lab with both Rich Abbott and Bob Werner examining another sample under the microscope brought in from Bob’s waterfront about 4-5 miles down on the West side.

 The County Health Dept. was notified along with the local media and Town and SLA websites to warn people not to swim or drink the lake water directly. Syracuse City residents and Skaneateles village residents that obtained their water through the City intakes were told it was OK to drink their tap water, as posted on, that same day.

Additional samples were taken at the village pier and steps to the village swim area on Sat, 9/16 by the NY Federation of Lake Associations as directed by the DEC and were hand delivered to SUNY-ESF for testing. These samples also showed elevated levels of blue-green algae (400-600 ug BGA-chl/liter) and elevated levels of the liver toxin microcystins (120-170 ug/L). These numbers were reported in Sunday’s These microcystin levels were considerably higher than the original more dilute samples taken by the SLA team on  Tuesday 9/12.  Algal neurotoxins, occasionally found in other blooms in New York State, were not present in any of the Skaneateles Lake samples. Combined, the results indicated the presence of a toxic blue-green algae bloom (HAB) in Skaneateles Lake, potentially being accumulated along the shore by wind and wave action.

 3) Sunday, 9/16, visible inspection of the lake showed resolution of the confluent areas of green scum along the shoreline, at least by this observer, along the west and east shorelines south to about 7 miles. However, heavy green particle suspension was present all over and in mid- lake about 5-6 miles down even in deeper offshore waters. There were visible streaks  of greenish particles but not the actual layered scum on the surface that was visible just the day before. This had broken apart.

 Impacts of the bloom

Discussion with Dr. Greg Boyer 9/18 /17, Professor SUNY ESF

1) A toxic HAB event was confirmed for Skaneateles Lake. The algal species involved was 99% Microcystis aeruginosa and measured hepatotoxin (liver toxin) concentrations (microcystin) exceeded the levels for drinking water and recreational contact (swimming).

2) Drinking water obtained via the City intakes via the tap was considered to be safe. The allowable levels in tap water for the liver toxins are <0.3 for children and <1.6 for adults (10 day average), The City has a number of options available, including using a deep water intake, mixing the water with Lake Ontario water, flocculation of the cells, or the use of activated carbon for removal of the toxins from the water.

3) In contrast, residents who obtain their water directly from the lake should be using bottled water during the bloom event. Many local residents’ water intakes are located near shore, in shallow water (10 -20 feet) and do not have the technology to remove the cells and toxins from the water. Routinely, blooms mix at least to depths of 20 feet.

Residential UV light systems may kill the cells but not necessarily remove the toxins from the water. Residential activated carbon systems are also generally insufficient to remove the toxins unless the system is expensive (thousands of dollars) and properly maintained.  Point-of-use filters commonly found on sink taps are insufficient at removing the toxins. Filtration and reverse osmosis do not remove the toxins once they have been released from the cell but may be beneficial in keeping the cells (about 7 microns in size) themselves out of the residential system.

These toxins are not destroyed by heat (e.g., boiling water does not work) and use of chlorine is often complicated by the presence of other organic material in the water from the bloom. These microcystin toxins do linger in the lake water even after the visible bloom is gone but become more dilute and dissipate with time. They do not remain forever.

 4) Special care needs to be taken with pets. Levels above 100 ug/L in bloom events are in the “Dead Dog” range, according to Greg, where pets can die due to the toxins accumulating in the fur and the dog’s normal tendency to lick its fur to clean itself. Pet owners should wash off their pets with a garden hose if the animal has been swimming in green water, For more information regarding pets see

5) Residents should avoid contact with all blooms and should not be swimming in any water where a bloom is present. The bloom will eventually go away and the water should be free of suspended green particles (usually weeks, not days) before resuming swimming or drinking the water.

A small fraction of the population (<1%) may also be allergic to contact with the bloom’s cells themselves (separate from the toxins). This may impact the use of the water for showering, washing of hands, dishes, or clothes using raw lake water during an active bloom event. The response is generally a skin rash.  Also, he does not recommend people who might be immunosuppressed from age, medication and/or disease use raw lake water for any of these activities during a time when a bloom might be present.

Discussion with Lisa Letteney, 9/18/17

Director of Environmental Health, Ononaga County Health Department: 

The City is actively monitoring the water at the intakes on Skaneateles Lake and also as the village trunk comes off the main after it exits the lake. She said  if anything changes the County/City will alert the public.

 We discussed some of the same issues brought up with Greg Boyer and she agreed to send out another Alert to keep the public informed and advice people not only on municipal water but also those who live on the lakeshore and draw directly from the lake.

We also discussed the possibility of setting up a Hotline # so in the future they could be immediately notified of a suspicious algal bloom and it can be immediately tested by the County/City authorities- so HABs aren’t missed! We were fortunate this time to have the SLA act proactively and discover it before the nasty green bloom appeared !

We both agreed that it’s important for the County Health Dept to stay in touch and advice accordingly since there seems to be much misinformation being dissipated along with misunderstanding of the issues involved with HABs.

Lisa agreed that subsequent Informational Alerts from the County Health Dept could be expected.

Submitted by:  Paul F. Torrisi,MD, President, SLA