Tuesday, March 7, 2023

The future of Adirondack lake monitoring

Sagamore Lake is one of 58 lakes that regularly monitored as part of a state-funded program that is now managed by the Adirondack Watershed Institute. Explorer file photo

The Adirondack Watershed Institute is now managing one of the Adirondack Park’s most important long-term water quality monitoring projects.

The project, known plainly as Adirondack Long Term Monitoring, collects important chemical data from 58 Adirondack water bodies, including many remote ones, and has helped document a gradual recovery from acidification across the region.

For decades the data collection was carried out by the Adirondack Lakes Survey Corporation, a nonprofit established by the state in 1983 and absorbed by the Ausable River Association in January, but AWI this winter won the latest contract with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

By the end of the year, AWI plans to convene a scientific advisory committee made up of representatives from state agencies and universities involved in Adirondack water research. The committee will explore new measures to collect at the lake sites and coordinate other research projects to align with the long-term monitoring work.

It’s an interesting time in the world of Adirondack lake monitoring and science. The new five-year ALTM contract potentially will overlap in time with a major study of Adirondack lakes and climate change. That survey, known as SCALE, would explore a wider set of conditions than ALTM. SCALE is considered a “snapshot” or “baseline” examination of conditions; the ALTM is a continuous collection of data to track conditions over time.

For scientists, the different types of data work together, and if SCALE moves forward, the research will likely inform what kinds of metrics are worth adding to long-term monitoring programs.

I have an update on SCALE that details plans for the survey and the push for state lawmakers to consider more funding to keep the project going.

ALSO:

Photo at top: Sagamore Lake is one of 58 lakes that regularly monitored as part of a state-funded program that is now managed by the Adirondack Watershed Institute. Explorer file photo

This first appeared in Zach’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Zachary Matson has been an environmental reporter for the Explorer since October 2021. He is focused on the many issues impacting water and the people, plants and wildlife that rely on it in the Adirondack Park. Zach worked at daily newspapers in Missouri, Arizona and New York for nearly a decade, most recently working as the education reporter for six years at the Daily Gazette in Schenectady.




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