Seneca Lake Pure Water Association voices concerns over Reeder Creek at Seneca Army Depot


In comments submitted last week to the U.S. Army and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding the Final Proposed Remedial Action Plan for the Seneca Army Depot Munitions Sites, Seneca Lake Pure Water Association (SLPWA) requested that steps be taken to identify and remove the source(s) of phosphorus, coliform and E. coli which are polluting Reeder Creek, Seneca Lake and other downstream waterways.

The U.S. Army, Environmental Protection Agency and the NYSDEC invited Public Comments regarding their recommendation to implement Land Use Controls to prohibit residential housing, elementary and secondary schools, childcare facilities or playgrounds and requires annual Explosive Safety Education for property owners of the former munitions sites.

The plan states that it protects human health and the environment by limiting human interactions with munitions and explosives of concern, the plan is easily implementable and the estimated 30-year cost of remediation is $56,400.00. However, the plan also clearly states that it does not reduce the toxicity, mobility or volume of wastes.

Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association began monitoring the water quality of the Reeder Creek in 2014. Water samples from Reeder Creek, analyzed by Community Science Institute in Ithaca, New York, a state-certified water quality testing laboratory, repeatedly showed high levels of phosphorus as well as elevated levels of pathogen (coliform, e-coli) concentrations.

Upon review by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), Reeder Creek was placed on the NYS Section 303(d) List of Impaired Waters due to its high phosphorus levels. The DEC recently released the results of 2016 benthic macro-invertebrate studies of Reeder Creek, which classified the stream as being moderately impacted.

Elevated levels of phosphorus in the lake stimulate growth of algae and harmful antibacterial (HABS). The shoreline of Seneca Lake, north of the mouth of Reeder Creek (near the Waterloo drinking water intake) has experienced HABS blooms during the past two summers. Reducing the phosphorus levels in Reeder Creek is necessary to help reduce algae blooms along this shoreline.

While SLPWA’s first priority concern with Reeder Creek is the high level of phosphorus it carries into Seneca Lake, it is not the only concern. The water sampling results also measured levels of coliform and E. coli that are generally higher than NYSDEC guidance levels.

It is thought that the source of the elevated levels of phosphorus is related to the disposal of munitions at the Seneca Army Depot and that the sources of the coliform and E. coli are most likely wastewater treatment discharges into the creek.

While the Army’s plan attempts to protects human health and the environment by limiting human interactions with munitions and explosives of concern it does not address the long terms hazards of phosphorus, coliform and E. coli flowing into our drinking water source, Seneca Lake.

The above is a republished press release from Seneca Lake Pure Water Association and was not written by FingerLakes1.com. Click here to submit press releases, community announcements, or news tips to the FingerLakes1.com team. Newsroom inquiries can be sent by clicking here.

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  • JohnL1953

    Did they test for OTHER chemicals. I cant believe that the soil is not contaminated. At its head waters it is a Superfund site that the US army says they are not cleaning up?

  • Debra Jorgensen

    The Depot has long been a pollution source to the lake. Compounded by the tiled corn-soybean agri-business runoff, also lack of education and concern of water quality by administrators and landowners, may ultimately change the ecology of these precious glacial Fingerlakes.

  • JohnL1953

    As child I grew up spending time at my grandparents lake home.(east lake road). just down the road from Reeder creek. I can remember the saw bellies fish all dying in the summer. I asked my grandfather about it he said it happens every summer. Makes you wonder.The lake use to be so cold in the summer. No that has even changed. There isn’t any smelt now either.