Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2018NY246B

Owasco Lake impairment and the link to land use and tributary health

Institute: New York
Year Established: 2018 Start Date: 2018-03-01 End Date: 2019-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $17,105 Total Non-Federal Funds: $9,693

Principal Investigators: Todd Walter

Abstract: Non-Point Source (NPS) pollution, especially from agricultural runoff, is considered the leading contributor to water quality impairments in the U.S (Liu et al. 2015, EPA 2000). In New York, nutrient (phosphorus [P] and nitrogen) concentrations are increasing in surface waters as a result of point source contamination (eg. from wastewater treatment facilities) and NPS contamination (eg. agricultural activities). Additionally, global warming is projected to alter the timing and amount of stream flows, extending low flow periods in the summer, and to alter the frequency of short term droughts (Frumhoff et. al 2007). In the Finger Lakes region of upstate NY, there are a variety of surface waters with quality that ranges from nearly pristine to impaired, as well as watersheds that range from urban to agricultural. Our area of study, Owasco Lake, supports agriculture, industrial activities, and constitutes the main drinking water source for its community. Our objectives are to evaluate the effect of phosphorus loading to Owasco Lake and its tributaries, specifically with respect to agricultural land use, and to gain a clearer understanding of agricultural practices and perceptions that may be leading to water quality impairment.