Cayuga County WQMA supports plan to lower level of Owasco Lake

Rachel Burkholder

A proposed plan to lower the water level in Owasco Lake this winter in hopes of killing multiple types of invasive species received a boost Thursday as the Cayuga County Water Quality Management Agency voted in its support.

The WQMA passed a resolution expressing support for a plan being considered by the city of Auburn to use a lowered lake level to kill the Asian Clam population in the Emerson Park area of the lake.

The plan would lower the lake to 709 feet above mean sea level for the 2018-29 winter in order to expose them to lethal ice contact.

Asian Clams, as well as other invasive species like the aquatic plant milfoil that would also be killed by the freezing, are suspected to contribute to the spread of harmful algal blooms on the lake.

Auburn’s Director of Municipal Utilities Seth Jensen said the plan would only be undertaken if conditions in the watershed were right. In particular, there would need to be sufficient snow pack to ensure the lake could be raised to its target elevation of approximately 713 feet in the spring.

WQMA Board member and Cayuga County Soil and Water Conservation District Executive Director Doug Kierst asked what the lowered level would mean for homeowners who draw surface water from the lake for personal use.

The Auburn Citizen:
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