Seneca Lake Water Level at a Record High

Sunset on Seneca Lake.
11/18/2021

The Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association (SLPWA) informed its watershed residents that the lake is at its highest level in nearly 30 years.

The association noted that this development is even more shocking considering this time of year is when the lake typically drops near its lowest point. Gravity Renewables, who is in charge of the Seneca flood gates, told the SLPWA that they’re letting out water as much as they can, and that it will just take some time to get back to normal.

That said, the SPLWA admitted this high amount of water “sure causes concerns.” They added that these large storms are not new, alluding to the flooding that occurred in Lodi in 2018. This could also be the new norm, as climatologists have told the SPLWA they have to prepare for a lot more of these severe storm events.

SLPWA President Jake Welch broke down further concerns in the associations newsletter to its residents.

“While these storms wreak havoc with debris and dangerous lake levels, they also carry massive amounts of sediments, phosphates, and nitrates into our lake,” he said. “That cocktail, in turn, propagates the intense weed growth and also fosters the dangerous harmful algal blooms we are encountering along our shorelines.”

“Trying to control Mother Nature seems impossible and realistically affecting climate change involves worldwide political solutions,” Welch added. “Yet, there are local measures that we can and should take. We, at Seneca Pure Waters, have put our minds and efforts toward doing that.”

Welch also reminded watershed residents that he touched on the following measures in a letter he sent last year, and noted where progress has been made in the following areas:

• The SLPWA is close to completing the Nine Element Plan. This is a data-based watershed wide study showing where the lake is suffering its biggest threats from pollution. 9E will also be critical to obtaining large governmental funding to curb them. Water sampling, by teams of volunteers, both in stream areas as well as in the lake itself, has and will be a critical component to 9E.
• The SLPWA started up their Sediment Nutrient Reduction Program (SNRP) and have “an excellent team looking at projects to curb water runoff problems. Implementation of these projects is expected over the upcoming year.”
• The SLPWA started its Lake Friendly Living Program sponsoring an Awareness Week in May of this year, showing those around the lake how they can individually lend a hand to keep runoff under control.
• The SLPWA brought attention to the lack of study of the millions of gallons of daily warm water discharges coming out of the Greenridge Bitcoin mining facility in Dresden and into the Keuka Outlet and Seneca Lake. They remain in discussions with the DEC concerning a sped-up environmental study (initially ordered back in 2017) and ways to remedy the thermal pollution situation.
• The SLPWA joined in with Yates County, SWIO and the Friends of the Outlet to commission an engineering study of the Keuka Outlet by using old canal beds as retaining areas for sediment control.

“As you can see, there is a lot more work involved in continuing these vital steps being pursued on behalf of us all,” Welch said. “We are nearing 1000 members, giving us a stronger political voice as needed to protect the lake. Yet we also rely heavily on donations to fund our water quality programs that preserve and protect Seneca Lake. Our Annual Appeal is one of our largest fundraisers of the year.”

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