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