DEC Announces Large Scale Pilot Study to Control Phosphorous Impacts in Honeoye Lake
Virtual Public Information Session Scheduled for Sept. 27
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is holding a virtual public information session on Tuesday, Sept. 27, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. to update residents on a research project to control phosphorous in Honeoye Lake in the town of Richmond, Ontario County. Phosphorous is a critical nutrient but excess concentrations can result in poor water quality.
DEC is studying potential management actions to control internal lake phosphorus loading from sediments on the floor of the lake. Honeoye Lake is a valued recreational asset, but it is currently impaired due to high phosphorus concentrations, mostly coming from within the lake itself. High phosphorous concentrations can create water quality issues such as reduced water clarity, low dissolved oxygen, fish die-offs, and may lead to harmful or toxic algal blooms (HABs).
This fall a contractor hired by DEC will apply aluminum sulfate (alum), a nutrient inactivant, to the deepest portions of Honeoye Lake in an effort to trap phosphorus in the sediments, preventing it from being dispersed in the water column where it can harm water quality.
Alum has been used to restore water quality outside of New York State. This pilot project will help inform the development of DEC's policy on nutrient inactivants. Honeoye Lake will be the third of three lakes treated as part of DEC's research to gauge the effectiveness of alum in reducing internal nutrient loads of certain lakes by physically binding and reducing available excess phosphorus in the water column. Initial pilot projects began treatments during spring 2019 at Peach and Mohegan lakes, located in Putnam and Westchester counties, respectively.
A Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for Honeoye Lake (PDF) concluded internal loading is the dominant source of phosphorus, making it an ideal candidate for the third pilot alum treatment. The data obtained from these three pilot projects will be evaluated to inform potential DEC guidance and permit requirements on the use of nutrient inactivants in New York. A similar, but limited alum treatment took place in 2006 on Honeoye Lake.
The virtual meeting will enable the community to hear from DEC on the steps proposed to improve Honeoye water quality. The meeting can be accessed via WebEx (leaves DEC website). Individuals without computer access may join the meeting by dialing 518-549-0500 and using the meeting access code: 161 156 2105
When it comes to HABs in Honeoye Lake or any waterbody, DEC encourages New Yorkers to "KNOW IT, AVOID IT, REPORT IT." KNOW IT - HABs vary in appearance from scattered green dots in the water, to long, linear green streaks, pea soup or spilled green paint, to blue-green or white coloration. AVOID IT - People, pets, and livestock should avoid contact with water that is discolored or has algal scums on the surface. REPORT IT - If members of the public suspect a HAB, report it through the NYHABs online reporting form available on DEC's website. Symptoms or health concerns related to HABs should be reported to DOH at [email protected]
While the exact cause of HABs is not fully understood, HABs usually occur in waters high in phosphorus and/or nitrogen. New York State has many programs and activities to reduce phosphorus and nitrogen from entering the water from surrounding lands, including stormwater permitting programs, funding for water quality improvement projects, and a nutrient law that restricts the use of phosphorus lawn fertilizer. DEC also continues to evaluate HAB mitigation technology and strategies.
For more information about HABs, including bloom notifications, which are updated daily through fall, visit DEC's Harmful Algal Blooms webpage. The HABs Program Guide (PDF), which includes information and links to resources regarding bloom prevention, management, and control, can also be downloaded from the DEC website. Visit DOH's website for DOH's public health information (leaves DEC website).