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Owasco Lake Sunset

A motor boat travels north under the brilliant colors of the setting sun on Owasco Lake in Auburn.

It was nearly two years ago when harmful algal blooms in Owasco Lake infiltrated the public water supply, a situation that created understandable public outcry. Concerned residents packed public meetings and advocacy groups were speaking out loudly about the need to address the problem and to get help from state and federal officials.

Short-term actions to address harmful algal blooms have been taken since that time, from the costly installation of carbon filtration systems at the Auburn and Owasco water plants to the testing of some algae-fighting tools in the lake itself this summer. Those measures so far appear to have had some positive effect. While blooms returned last summer, the treated water was successfully protected. So far this summer, confirmed large blooms have not broken out in Owasco Lake, as of Friday afternoon.

That's great news, to be sure, but it remains vitally important to maintain public awareness of this threat to Owasco Lake and to gather public input addressing the lake's long-term needs.

To that end, we hope to see a big crowd at a crucial meeting for Owasco Lake on Monday night. At 6 p.m. at the Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES, officials who have been working on the development of the Owasco Lake Nine Element Watershed Plan will give an overview of what they have accomplished so far and then ask for residents to provide their own feedback, suggestions and observations.

The Nine Element Watershed Plan is a complex and thorough scientific assessment of the watershed that will become a key piece in long-term actions taken to restore and protect the lake's water quality. A well-designed and implemented plan can make a huge positive difference in ensuring that Cayuga County residents today and in the future can rely on this lake for its drinking water and for its recreational opportunities.

That can't happen without strong public involvement, which we hope to see on display Monday night.

The Citizen Editorial Board includes publisher Rob Forcey, managing editor Mike Dowd and executive editor Jeremy Boyer.

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