Cayuga Lake Modeling Project

A joint investigation of the sources and fate of phosphorus in Cayuga Lake...

Cayuga Lake Modeling Project website

Cayuga Lake
Cayuga Lake

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), Cornell University and local water resource managers are partnering on a joint investigation of the sources and fate of phosphorus in Cayuga Lake. The investigation will bring together the University, public agencies engaged in water resources, and the watershed community in an effort to improve collective understanding of the lake. The water quality model developed will be an important tool for a science-based approach to managing Cayuga Lake over the coming decades.

The project will be led by NYSDEC, and is included as a condition of the draft permit renewal for Cornell’s Lake Source Cooling facility. Once completed, the model will enable NYSDEC to prepare a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) allocation for phosphorus input to southern Cayuga Lake. Since 2002, this region of the lake has been on state and federal lists of impaired waters, and a TMDL has been required.

The Cayuga Lake Modeling Project is an example of an emerging approach to water resources management known as Ecosystem-based Management (EBM). NYSDEC and other agencies recognize that EBM is the future of water resources management. EBM recognizes the full array of interactions within an ecosystem, including human needs for sustainable development, rather than considering single issues in isolation. EBM has several guiding principles that are illustrated by this project: application of the best available science in decision-making, adaptive management, a commitment to stakeholder involvement, consideration of the full range of potential impacts on land use, water quality and air quality, and the importance of economic development in decision making. This project has the potential to be an exemplary EBM case study, and to set a standard of excellence in watershed management.

Visit the Cayuga Lake Modeling Project website for more information.