News from the SLA
Lake George’s Jefferson Project is Coming to Skaneateles Lake
Fran Fish & Rick Relyea, Ph.D.
In early June, a delegation from the Skaneateles Lake Association (SLA) Board and the New York State Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Action Plan Committee traveled to Lake George to visit with the staff from The Jefferson Project at Lake George. The Jefferson Project is an unprecedented collaboration between Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), IBM Research, and The Fund for Lake George that combines cutting-edge technology with science and advocacy to understand and reduce the impacts of human activity on water quality. We anticipated learning a great deal about their science, technology, and problem-solving solutions and coming back to Skaneateles with our heads swimming with ideas of how we could incorporate some of their program components into the SLA program.
The three directors of The Jefferson Project (Dr. Rick Relyea, Director of Rensselaer’s Darrin Fresh Water Institute; Dr. Harry Kolar, IBM Research; and Eric Siy, Executive Director of the FUND) were magnanimous with the information and materials they provided and the onsite tour of their efforts in action. They shared with us their three-pronged approach to studying Lake George. To understand how the lake changes over space and time, they use traditional monitoring as well as a network of “smart sensors” that comprise the most advanced lake monitoring system in the world. To understand which human activities drive changes in water quality, they conduct leading-edge experiments that examine various human impacts alone and in combinations. Using data from the monitoring and experiments, they use highly sophisticated computer models–including weather, runoff, lake-circulation, and food-web–to forecast and hindcast changes in lake conditions. Equally impressive was their track record of translating the scientific insights regarding human impacts on the overall water quality into real-world solutions to ensure the enduring protection of the lake.
We came back inspired to enhance our own efforts to protect Skaneateles Lake. The Jefferson Project, The FUND for Lake George, and the SLA are out in front protecting two “sister lakes” that have the highest quality drinking water in the state (AA-rated). Both lakes are sources of drinking water for large numbers of people, important economic drivers in their respective communities, and major recreational centers for their local and regional residents. As a result, sharing information and learning from each other made perfect sense. Last week, the SLA Board was pleased to receive an even more generous offer from The Jefferson Project.
We are delighted to report that The Jefferson Project is coming to Skaneateles Lake this summer in a pilot program to partner with local researchers (from agencies and academia) and the SLA to help monitor and protect our critical resource. This effort includes bringing their highly advanced lake-sensor technology and computer modeling efforts as a first step toward better understanding how Skaneateles Lake functions and the conditions that cause harmful algal blooms. Following this pilot program, their hope is that they can bring a full network of advanced sensors to the lake to provide us with the ability to better understand how natural processes and human activities impact the quality of our water and, in turn, how we can most effectively mitigate human impacts, including the threat of harmful algal blooms. The SLA is indebted to The Jefferson Project for this generous sharing of technology, modeling, and personnel.
Source: Skaneateles Press