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Specific to the Owasco Lake Watershed, large multi-generational family dairy farms (also known as CAFOs) operate 3 percent of the total watershed land base. This 3 percent of the watershed's footprint is intensely regulated by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and managed by local farm families for nutrient retention. Over 20 years of improved practices have been implemented on this 3 percent of the watershed's area to limit soil erosion and improve sustainability.

The continued perception that DEC regulated-, inspected- and approved-CAFO farm operations are the leading contributing factor in harmful algal bloom formation is both frustrating and unproductive. It must be noted that this 3 percent represents the only fraction of the watershed where nutrients are actively monitored and managed through regulation. What about the other 97 percent of the watershed area land uses?

When will the Cayuga County Department of Health's Septic Inspection Program become relevant to the HABs discussion and include nutrient testing of leachfield soils, especially in near lakeshore systems constructed within the floodplain of Owasco Lake?

When will municipalities upgrade infrastructure capacity of stormwater sewage collection and treatment systems to prevent discharges of untreated raw sewage during storm or thaw events?

The farm families who operate CAFOs within this community demand that all land uses with nutrient contribution potential adapt and improve their systems. We remain committed to supporting research and programs which help all residents understand the influence of every land use on water quality.

Kelly O'Hara


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