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Keuka Lake Association


Keuka Lake, along with all freshwater lakes, have always had some level of natural "foam" from wave action combined with organic matter that acts as a surfactant or foaming agent. Since 2001 we have seen at times, larger scaled foam episodes in some parts of the lake. Water samples taken from the lake indicate the foam is a natural occurring substance consistent with the decomposition of a large die-off of zebra mussels and algae. The foam is not a health concern for swimming or drinking water.

What is the cause of lake foam and why are we seeing higher amounts? The white foam found in lakes and streams is usually natural. Wind-driven currents frequently create parallel streaks of foam in open water. Foam is created as decomposing plants and animals release organic compounds into the water. The compounds act as a "surfactant" and reduce the surface tension of water, causing bubbles to form. Many people blame shoreline foam on detergents, but detergents don't create long-lasting foam since they quickly lose their sudsing ability. Natural foam has a somewhat earthy or fishy aroma. Detergent foam, in contrast, will have a noticeable perfume smell.

The "lines" of foam that occur are caused by "langmuir" currents. These currents are formed on the sides of wind-driven waves causing a "funneling" action and the characteristic windrow of surface foam and other debris. The windrows will be more pronounced on a windy, southerly front.

Keuka Lake - Woody


Founded in 1956, the Keuka Lake Association, with over 1700 members, provides a unified voice for those who love Keuka Lake. Our mission is to preserve and protect Keuka Lake and its natural beauty for future generations.

Keuka Lake Association is a 501(c) (3) organization (a non-profit tax exempt organization under IRS rules). This distinction is defined by our service to the public and how we are mission-driven as opposed to profit-driven.

Gifts, donations and membership dues paid to our organization are used in direct service to the overall mission to preserve and protect Keuka Lake. Membership dues, donations and gifts are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law. Consult your professional tax preparer if you have specific tax related questions.