DEC Wants Cayuga Lake Study

NY State is looking for Cornell to fund study of impaired section of water...


By Andrew Casler via The Ithaca Journal, 12/16/12

The southern end of Cayuga Lake was identified as high-priority for cleanup a decade ago, and now the state is looking for Cornell University to fund a study of the impaired section of water.

The DEC is considering making Cornell pay for a Total Daily Maximum Load study as part of permit renewal for the university’s Lake Source Cooling facility. Lake Source Cooling provides some university buildings with air conditioning but discharges effluent in the lake’s southern end.

The public comment period for the renewal of Lake Source Cooling’s permit ends Wednesday, which is an extension of the original deadline.

The Total Daily Maximum Load study would determine any damage being done by phosphorus levels. The study could cost $2.1 million, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Phosphorus can feed plants and cause thick, aquatic weeds. Also, plant material in chlorinated drinking water can cause health risks. Trihalomethane, a suspected carcinogen, is formed when chlorine and plant material interact.

One source of phosphorus is Cornell University’s Lake Source Cooling Facility, which loads 3 percent, or .4 tons, of the bio-available phosphorus that’s deposited into the lake’s southern end annually, according to Steve Penningroth, technical director of Community Science Institute, a not-for-profit that tests water quality in the region.

“DEC remains uncertain that focusing solely on Lake Source Cooling, with what we know now, is going to resolve all the problems in Cayuga Lake. It’s possible it will; it’s possible it won’t. We just remain uncertain,” said Jeffery Myers, a director of DEC’s Division of Water.

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