Site photography courtesy of Matt Champlin

LEGACY FUND: Fighting Harmful Algal Blooms together

News from the Skaneateles Lake Association

Eyes on the Lake, Eyes on the Watershed      Fran Rotunno Fish

All season long SLA member, John MacAlister, has kept organized the 30 SLA members around the lake have served as volunteer Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) watchdogs. Keeping their eyes on the lake for suspicious looking water that could be or develop into a HAB they serve the lake community and beyond as they also served all who drink the lake water in the City of Syracuse and surrounding communities. In addition to these “official watchdogs” there were dozens of people in the lake community who also acted responsibly and reported water conditions of concern. These official volunteers and alert citizens were part of the effort that the SLA developed in response to the first HAB in 2017….an informed, participating community outreach citizen group. We all owe them a heartful thank you.

But, as we have all hopefully learned in the past 2 years, the protection of the lake water is dependent on the protection of the watershed. Thus, keeping watchful eyes on the watershed is very important to the health of the lake water. Various educational programs and printed materials that have been circulated and just plain common sense have resulted in our watershed community citizens keeping a watchful eye on the watershed and reporting to official agencies or to the SLA things that they observed that were of concern.

In the past few weeks two stories have come to the SLA that demonstrate the importance of having “eyes “on the watershed, as well as, eyes on the lake.

East side of the lake resident, Lois Exner, noted that a vendor doing some work on her property had obviously had a problem with some vehicle or equipment and she noted a large spill of what she suspected was some kind of oil on her property. The vendor covered it with some loose dirt that was available and drove off. She called them several times to attempt to get them to come back and take care of it properly….no response to her calls. Lois had her daughter email the SLA via the “contact us” tab on our website and we responded with a phone call and told her to call the DEC Emergency Spill line. She did and they called back in 10 minutes. With no response from the vendor and the threat of rain coming, the DEC came to the property, dug out the area and filled it in. Citizen alertness to the risk for the lake water, guidance from the SLA and a timely response from the DEC were the perfect combination of actions to protect the lake. The vendor will be fined and billed for the response. It would not have happened that way without an alert responsible citizen. Thank you, Lois Exner.

More recently, west side of the lake resident, Chris Legg, arrived home about 6:45 on a Wednesday evening and noted a collection of granular particles along a long stretch of the roadway and on the shoulder adjacent to the drainage ditch on the west side of the road. After seeing the extent of spill, Chris contact the City of Syracuse Water Department Emergency Line and notified the SLA via the “contact us” tab on our website. We contacted Bob Werner who lives in the area of the spill. Bob and Dave Laxton examined the granules and felt they were likely fertilizer but not pesticides. This visual determination by them was confirmed. The Skaneateles Lake Watershed Protection Program (SLWPP), the NYSDEC Spill Response on-call technician, Rich Abbot from the Syracuse Water Department and the Department of Transportation all coordinated in a timely manner and on the next morning a street sweeper was mobilized immediately to the spill area and the fertilizer was completely removed from the shoulder by 10:04 am, prior to the rain events. Again, an alert citizen, Chris Legg, and timely response from official agencies resulted in a timely, coordinated response that protected the lake.

Our official agencies all did a great job in both events of responding to “risk to the lake events” in the watershed. Our alert citizens with their eyes on the watershed enabled the response to be timely by making the calls to an official agency and notifying the SLA.

Please as you keep your eyes on the lake also keep your eyes on the watershed. If you see something, say something. If you do not know who to call or are reluctant to get involved for whatever reason, please inform us via the “contact us” tab on our website and we will get the issue of concern to the right agencies/agencies.

We thank the following for sponsoring the Milfoil Boar for a day: Katherine Cogswell & William Benson, Nancy & Ted Norman, Norma & David McCarthy, Jeannie & Henry Slauson, Greenfield Lane Association, Patrician Lynn & Steve Ford.

We thank the following for co-sponsoring the Milfoil Boar for a day or multiple days: Jacqueline & Charles Giancola, Ten Mile Point HOA, Bacon Hill HOA, Annette Otis & Dan Gaston, Kimberly & William Gilberti, Ann & David Lee, Stephen Legg, Suzanne & Davin Nagle, Diane & John Rizzo, Margaret Tourville, Kathleen & David Zapata, Leah & Thomas Valenti, Deborah & Jim Tifft, Lynne & Joseph Romano, Jane & Tom Hanley, Carla & David Goffe.

We thank the following for sponsoring an Invasive Species Monitoring Steward for a day: Jeannie & Kenneth Hutton, Deborah & Jim Tifft, Sandra Skiff & Doug Adams, Daisey & Michael Bongiovanni, Jen & Bill Mayo, Susan & James Soloman, Barbara & Robert Amsler, Kary & Ian Raddant, Kathleen & Chad Rogers, Paige Willard & Jane Phillips, Patricia Woodcock, Patty Weisse & George Thomas, Sharon & Fredrick Singler, Joanne Viggiano & Kenneth Cannon.

We thank the following for donations to the David Lee Hardy Fund which also supports our Invasive Species Monitoring Steward Program: Mary Beth & Jeff Carlberg, Sarah & Kristopher Kiefer, Pine Bluff HOA, Linda & Nicholas Rossi, Estlinbaum Barge & Crane, Mary Lou & Michael Cooper, Nancy & John Stenfeld, Nancy Peck.

Source:  Skaneateles Press Observer




News from the Skaneateles Lake Association

Fall Work for the SLA and Watershed Residents       Fran Rotunno Fish

The Fall Season is upon us.

The Milfoil Team is picking up the last of the 230 mats totaling 6 acres that have been deployed over large patches of Milfoil earlier this past summer. First mats down are the first to be rolled up and removed. So, at this point we are working on the last mats that went down. We need to leave them down for 6 – 8 weeks for effective control of the Milfoil. It is difficult work that needs a reasonably calm lake to be done.

We are also beginning the process of planning for next year. Bob Werner and Bill Dean have been out surveying the lake at depths where milfoil can grow. They do this with sonar equipment attached to Bob’s boat that records the vegetation as they pass over it. All the data is sent for analysis to a company that uses the GPS location of the boat and synchronizes the location with the underwater image so that we can locate the patches of milfoil. Once the patches are identified statistics on the size and depth of the patch are developed. The largest patches are prioritized to be matted in the following year. It is a process that takes a lot of time (and we need to note that is VOLUNTEER TIME) and again requires calm conditions on the lake to do the work.

Many of our Invasive Species Monitoring Stewards have gone back to school or college, but we have great senior stewards out there continuing their work to protect the lake from invasive species that are not just physically unattractive but also are potential risk factors in the development of harmful algal bloom.

Our entire SLA Board and its committees are continuing to investigate programs and techniques to prevent algal blooms and our committed community HAB monitoring volunteers are keeping their eyes on the lake, reporting and collecting specimens. We have had some smaller, but still ugly algal blooms, but thankfully as I write this no major ones that have not quickly dissipated. Lesson is clear – cyanobacteria are out there in the lake and just the right mixture of conditions of water condition, temperature, sunlight and nutrients can bring them to a head.

Along with all that we have been giving one on one advice and reference resources to individual residents for their specific problem or issues.

The Fall season also brings work for our watershed residents and we urge you to carryout a Fall workplan that helps to protect the lake water, your property and the property of other.

As you clean your yards whether on the waterfront or elsewhere in the watershed, please do not rake leaves or grass clippings into the lake, any tributary, or any roadside ditch. Large amounts of phosphorus are released from their decomposition….large amounts ….and raking or blowing them into the lake or any water that ends up in the lake adds to the nutrient load of the lake. Please mulch those leaves and grass clipping and mulch them well. Leave them on the lawn to promote its health instead of promoting disease in the lake. On our property we have so many leaves that we rake a good portion of them onto a tarp. Dump them on the driveway, mulch them like mad and then use them to put a “winter coat” on our plants. If you have a compost pile then you have another resource for reusing them. It takes a little effort on the part of all of us in the watershed to take care of the lake and its water. So be a guardian of the lake and take the effort.

The high-water level and the wind storm last week put many people out on the lake or calling neighbors (and calling the SLA) looking for the property they had lost to the lake. There were parts of docks, floats, kayaks, etc. loose on the lake and people out looking for them. Remember, your loose item on the lake is not just at risk to loss or damage, but other people’s property is at risk to damage from it. Please be sure to move all possible items far from the shoreline as both the winter and spring storms can be waterfront thieves. It is a good idea to put identification of some kind on anything that you leave out during the winter even if has always been secure in years past. If you have a mooring, consider removing the mooring buoy and sinking the chain part way.   If you do not do this, put some ID on the buoy and check to ensure the chain and buoy connection are secure.

The final part of the Fall workplan for the SLA Board of Directors is to look at our finances and plan what we can do in 2020. While this SLA Board is all volunteer, the SLA is a business that has all the expenses of any business. It also has the responsibility to only contract for work for which there are funds to pay for it. That means that the final part of the Fall workplan for all of our watershed residents is to ensure that you have paid your annual SLA dues for 2019. We simply cannot do what we do without you. In the next few weeks we will be sending reminders by email or letter to all whose annual dues are overdue.   Help us make that list smaller by joining today. You can join online at or you can call 3125-558-3142 for a registration form.

Source:  Skaneateles Press Observer