Letter from the SLA Executive Director: Jefferson Project Update
Many of our regular readers are aware that the Skaneateles Lake Association has partnered with the Jefferson Project on Lake George to collect data on our lake. This past summer, the Jefferson Project added a Vertical Profiler to our lake. Examples of some of the measurements the Vertical Profiler can record include weather, water currents, temperature, chlorophyll A (which is helpful for detecting algal blooms), turbidity, pH, dissolved oxygen, and others.
Ironically, the Jefferson Project’s Vertical Profiler and I both started working on Skaneateles Lake at the same time. The Vertical Profiler was added to Skaneateles Lake on July 31st and I began working with the SLA on August 1st. Over this period of almost 3 months, we both have taken in a lot of information.
SLA has met with the Jefferson Project several times since the Vertical Profiler was added to the lake. Though SLA has not been able to obtain the raw data from this device, we have been able to learn about some of the findings the device has collected and the Jefferson Project scientists have analyzed. One thing we has become more aware of, as a result of partnering with the Jefferson project, is the role of internal nutrient loading. This means that nutrients that are already in the lake, from many years of runoff, are now being resuspended and are becoming available to the algae.
On October 10th, I made a trip up to Lake George. On this trip, I was able to see a visual model that the Jefferson Project developed of our lake. This model depicted an internal seiche within the lake. We think an internal seiche may be contributing to internal nutrient loading. A seiche is a standing wave in an enclosed body of water. It’s almost like sloshing in a bathtub, but think of it with thermal layers in a lake. It is caused by a period of wind pushing in one direction for a significant period of time. The wind forces the warm layer of water downward on one end of the lake, which pushes against the cool layer of water beneath, and ultimately creates this wave that travels toward the other end of the lake where it hits at about 15-18 meters in depth. The force of this impact is enough to suspend sediment and nutrients, which algae can then take up. When the wind then calms and the weather is warm enough, it can form a bloom. It just so happens, that when the seiche hits the bottom at the North end of the lake, it hits close to where the Country Club sits. When it hits at the South end of the lake, it hits at about ¾ of a mile from the end of the lake. This means that nutrients are likely being suspended in both of these locations and could attribute to blooms there.
It is important to note that a seiche is not a new occurrence. Seiches have been happening for thousands of years and are common in most long, North-South oriented lakes. Unfortunately an internal seiche is not something we can control, and it is nearly impossible to remove the nutrients that are already in the lake. However, we can control external nutrient loading, this is why SLA plans to continue working with stakeholders around the lake to reduce their nutrient input into the lake. We all have a stake in our lake’s water quality and we must do as much as we personally can to stop nutrient loading into the lake.
We’d like to acknowledge our most recent event, our Landscaping for Water Quality Forum at the High School on October 23rd. This event allowed homeowners to learn about how they can reduce nutrient loading into the lake from their lawns. Thank you to our Presenters: Aimee Clinkhammer, Matt Biondolillo, and Don Leopold. Thank you to our co-sponsors: Cornell Cooperative Extension, Town of Skaneateles, City of Syracuse. We’d also like to thank the High School Environmental Club, volunteers, organizers, tabling organizations, and everyone who came out to the event.
Source: Skaneateles Press