New York State Finalizes Canandaigua Lake Water Quality Plan

11/30/2023

"Watershed Nine Element Plan for Phosphorus Reduction" Bolsters Efforts to Protect and Enhance Canandaigua Lake Water Quality

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos and New York State Department of State (DOS) Secretary of State Robert Rodriguez recently announced the joint agency approval of the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Nine Element Plan for Enhanced Phosphorus Management, a plan to advance efforts to restore and protect the water quality of Canandaigua Lake and its watershed.

"The Canandaigua Lake Watershed Nine Element Plan will help DEC, DOS, and our local partners better understand the unique characteristics of the Canandaigua Lake watershed that are critical to helping identify projects that promote the lake's management, protection, and overall improvement," Commissioner Seggos said. "DEC commends our partners for the hard work and sustained coordination invested in developing this plan for Canandaigua Lake and looks forward to building on the progress and investments underway to enhance the region's water quality."

"The Department of State is committed to maintaining, restoring, and improving the existing high water quality of Canandaigua Lake and its watershed, which is an essential element of healthy, sustainable communities and ecosystems" said Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez. "This robust and comprehensive watershed plan builds off decades of collaboration, planning and implementation and creates a path forward towards improved water quality and public health that will guide communities in the Canandaigua Lake area as they protect and restore this most precious natural asset. We are proud to collaborate with DEC and our local partners in completing this Plan that will pay dividends for the communities, the lake, and the ecosystem for years to come."

In recent years, Canandaigua Lake has experienced water quality challenges, including harmful algal blooms (HABs) associated with the availability and transport of phosphorus, a key nutrient for plants and algae. Land use, climate change, and natural processes across the watershed can impact the lake's phosphorus levels. Understanding and managing phosphorus inputs from the watershed is essential for protecting this valuable resource and led to the development of the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Nine Element Plan to identify focused strategies to ensure that the lake's water supply, aquatic habitat, and recreational uses are protected. DEC and DOS experts guided and approved the plan, which is consistent with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) framework for watershed-based plans consisting of nine key elements for waterbody protection and stakeholder engagement.

The watershed plan aims to reduce phosphorus input to the lake through the implementation of short- and long-term projects. The Canandaigua Lake Watershed Nine Element Plan development was a collaborative effort led by Canandaigua Lake Watershed Council (CLWC) with input from many partners engaged with lake and watershed management issues, including Ontario County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Commission, the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association, Cornell University, and project consultant Ecologic LLC. Now that the community established a Nine Element Plan, it can continue to build upon existing efforts to address pollutant sources and utilize additional state and federal grants to implement the plan. The final approved plan is posted on DEC's Clean Water Plan webpage.

Town of Gorham Supervisor Fred Lightfoote, Co-Chair of the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Council, said, "It has been my privilege to work with the representatives of the other 13 watershed and water purveying municipalities on the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Council to develop the Nine Element Watershed Plan for Canandaigua Lake. This intermunicipally led effort continues our long history of partnership-based approaches and projects to proactively protect Canandaigua Lake for generations to come."

For more information about the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association, visit canandaigualakeassoc.org.

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