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Keuka Lake Association


Project: Drifters to measure deep currents

last update: September 22, 2022

Project: Drifters to measure deep currents in Keuka Lake (Friday 9/30/22 - Friday 10/14/22)
Research team: NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), Cornell University, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

For a two-week period of September 30 through October 14, you may notice a few blinking lights drifting around Keuka Lake. These drifting lights are part of a study by NYSDEC and Cornell to measure water currents in each branch of the lake. In 2018, NYSDEC began stocking Cisco, a native fish species, into Keuka Lake to restore a previously extirpated forage fishery. Since then, we have been researching and monitoring their population to estimate how many Cisco remain and where they are located. In October 2020, we collected lake-wide environmental DNA water samples to assess the distribution of recently stocked Cisco, with much support from several members of KLA. For more info on eDNA see this blog post from National Park Service: Our water samples indicated that Cisco were present in several key areas, however, without baseline data on lake currents, we cannot evaluate location accuracy given the potential for eDNA movement in the water. As such, we plan to deploy six drifting devices in October for us to better understand how currents move throughout Keuka Lake.

What to look for
The drifting devices formally known as agrangian drifters are composed of two components: A low-resistance float at the surface, and a high-drag ‘drogue’ attached below at 39 feet or 59 feet depths that acts as an underwater sail. Floats are 2ft tall white PVC pipes with a solar-powered flashing beacon and reflective tape. Drogues are 4ft x 4ft with multiple panels of white or black plastic sheeting. The floats will only be approximately 1 foot above the waterline. Each drifter has a label with contact information for DEC (see pictures below).
We are asking for KLA assistance to spread the word to please avoid touching or moving the drifters while they are out on the lake. We also ask that you please contact us if a drifter washes up along someone's dock or shoreline. The drogues are bulky and heavy, so we advise leaving equipment alone if you find one. Drifters will be deployed for two weeks. Thank you in advance for your continued help and support with this project!

Contact info
If you find a drifter along your property, please call NYSDEC at 585-226-5344, 585-226-5339 or 607-422-7136 or e-mail DEC Region 8 fisheries at
For general project questions, or if you have insights to how currents move in Keuka Lake, please email Alex Koeberle, PhD student at Cornell University:

Keuka Lake - Starry Night


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.