Water Quality Monitoring
With spring finally here, the Keuka Lake Water Monitoring program is again moving forward. Water quality evaluation is a major focus of the KLA to ensure the current and future protection of beautiful Keuka. The monitoring program has been in existence for several decades in one form or another. The current programs have been in existence for more than a decade.
The purpose of the program is to collect and analyze lake and tributary samples to determine the general health of the lake for various uses such as drinking, swimming and fishing. Over the years, specialized studies were conducted to address specific concerns such as jet skis and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO's). The program is the result of the combined efforts and funding of several key KLA volunteers: Dr. Alexander Wahlig and Peter Robbins; cooperating agencies such as Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Soil and Water Conservation District; testing laboratories and universities including Midstate Labs, R&J Labs, SUNY Brockport Biological Sciences, Cornell University Biological Field Station, and Keuka College.
The monitoring program is a major investment for the KLA and its members. Approximately $25,000 is spent each year to cover the costs of lab fees, consultants, fuel, ice, shipping, mileage and volunteer time. Dr. Wahlig and Mr. Robbins generously donate their time, boats and gas for the entire sampling season, from April through December. Sometimes they even provide their fishing poles and expertise!
Jim Balyszak, Water Quality Specialist, Yates County Soil and Water Conservation District, contributes staff time and funding for the bacteria testing from a grant through the Finger Lakes Lake Ontario Watershed Protection Alliance (FLLOWPA). Steuben County Soil and Water Conservation District provides $2,000 each year to support the testing program. The KLA contracts with several labs and Cornell Cooperative Extension for consulting services. SUNY Brockport provides the nutrient, pH, chlorophyll a analysis for lake and stream samples ($6,000-$7,500), Cornell Biological Field Station analyzes the zooplankton and zebra mussel larvae samples ($1,000), and Midstate and/or R&J Labs analyzes the bacteria samples ($2,000-$3,000). Cornell Cooperative Extension provides overall consulting services for the monitoring and watershed management program ($15,000).