Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute and the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District have collaborated on a study detailing long term trends of the water quality in 21 Hamilton County lakes.
“The State of Hamilton County Lakes: A 25 Year Perspective 1993 – 2017” was developed to deliver a countywide assessment of the current and historical water quality status and in hopes of guiding future watershed management decisions.
The Soil and Water District has been collecting this data for more than two decades with funding from New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund and the Finger Lakes-Lake Ontario Watershed Protection Alliance.
Hamilton County is home to approximately 4,500 year-round residents and is a summer vacation destination. Its waterbodies provide important sources for clean drinking water, recreation, and habitat for fish, wildlife and plants.
The study examined acidity, nutrient content, water clarity, dissolved oxygen and a number of other variables. The final report provides detailed individual lake reports for each lake in the study as well as a primer on lake science. Researchers at Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute analyzed the water samples and interpreted the results.
The lake study draws several conclusions, among them:
- Lakes in Hamilton County are exhibiting a clear signal of recovery from acid deposition; however, over 80% of the lakes showed a downward trend in transparency. The authors conclude that the reduction in transparency is likely related to changes in regional climate variables as well as recovery from acid deposition.
- 91% of the study lakes were influenced by road salt. Wide spread use of salt on NYS routes 30, 28, and 8 have resulted in elevated concentrations of sodium and chloride in the water. Some lakes, such as Oxbow, Eight, and Blue Mountain have chloride concentrations that are 60 to 100 times greater than background levels.
The report calls for sustained research and long term monitoring programs to understand lake ecology, particularly in the ever-growing shadow of human activities. To download a copy, click here.
Photos, from above: Preparing to collect water quality data from Fawn Lake courtesy Soil and Water Conservation District; Piseco Lake by Jamie Parslow; and Collecting water quality data from Fawn Lake courtesy Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District.