Conesus Lake earns good report
The Conesus Lake Watershed Council met with ecological experts and several other individuals from involved groups, to discuss the major accomplishments in the condition of Conesus Lake over the past decade since the Conesus Lake Watershed Management Plan was implemented in 2003.
The goal of the Management Plan was to improve the lake’s quality by implementing a comprehensive strategy of conservation, preservation and education of best practices for the various stakeholders residing within the Conesus Lake area and surrounding watershed.
Dr. Elizabeth Moran from EcoLogic, LLC presented a 10-year update to the council called the Conesus Lake Watershed Characterization Report, which contained good news for the lake, those who visit and use the lake for recreation and for those who make the lake their home.
The report contained a summation of the activities and the ongoing efforts to reduce pollution and improve the condition of the lake. There were several positive indicators outlined in the report.
A USDA program led by Dr. Joseph Makarewicz of SUNY Brockport conducted stream testing to monitor the level of nutrients and sediments flowing into Conesus Lake. The results were favorable. Several other studies monitoring the health of the lake were conducted over the last several years, including a study done by Dr. Sid Bosch of SUNY Geneseo. One study in particular monitored the trophic state of the lake, or the presence of phosphorous and algae. The report showed that those levels are declining, said Moran.
“Phosphorous is key to the lake’s health. Much has been done to identify and stop the presence of phosphorous and algae in the lake. Much of the success has been in controlling what is washing into the lake,” Moran said.
The recommendations focused on nearby agricultural practices. Local farmers were offered voluntary measures that would reduce or eliminate agricultural pollutants from reaching Conesus Lake. These include controlling runoff of fertilizer and animal waste, changing manure handling and keeping cattle out of streams. The recommended changes have resulted in an improved trophic state of Conesus Lake.
Moran said the Conesus Lake Watershed Council, the Lake Association and several municipalities and agencies have corroborated very effectively over the past decade, which has resulted in the success of the management plan and the improved condition of the lake. EcoLogic is in the process of updating The Conesus Lake Characterization Report which will be released publicly within a few months.
“In the last 10 years the lake has improved. Municipalities surrounding the lake have adopted stringent erosion, agricultural and construction controls that have been very effective,” Moran said.
Livingston County Planning Director Angela Ellis agrees that the effectiveness of the Council is to be recognized and commended as the reason behind the improved condition of Conesus Lake. In 2011, The Conesus Lake Watershed Council received the Upstate New York American Planning Association Planning Excellence Award for Implementation.
“Since the Plan was created in 2003, the Conesus Lake Watershed Council and watershed communities have leveraged $1.8 million in State funding for projects in the watershed. Watershed communities and Livingston County have committed almost $2.2 million in local share that, together with the State funding leveraged, has lead to the focusing of over $4 million into Conesus Lake projects from 2003 to 2011. The level of cooperation within and partnerships among the Watershed Management Plan committees and between agencies has been heralded as a successful example of how the process should work,” the award read.
After a thorough review of the strategies that have been put in place to reduce pollution and improve the condition of Conesus Lake, the Watershed Council accepted the annual report.
All of the documents and reports presented at the Watershed Council meeting are available on the Livingston County website, under the Planning Departmentlink.Go to www.co.livingston.state.ny.us.