Skaneatles Lake Watershed Land Use Scenario and Nutrient Modeling

Authors: Robert A Rioux*, Hamilton College, Aaron L Strong, Hamilton College
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Sustainability Science, Land Use and Land Cover Change
Keywords: watershed, land use, ecosystem services
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 52
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Skaneateles Lake is the one of the Finger Lakes found in New York State. Skaneateles Lake has been used as the municipal water supply of the nearby City of Syracuse since 1895. Syracuse has a waiver from the New York State Department of Health to draw water from Skaneateles Lake unfiltered. Recently, due to many factors, including increased development of the watershed and climate change, Skaneateles Lake has experienced a series of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). HABs can be triggered by many factors, one of which is excess nutrients. Based on the Skaneateles Lake HAB Plan created by the NYS DEC in conjunction with other relevant stakeholders we identified a lack of knowledge about the quantity of nutrient loading into the lake. Land use modeling can help determine areas to concentrate conservation efforts to reduce N or P loading into the lake. To assess how watershed land management options, including land conservation might play a role in reducing nitrogen and phosphorus loading to Skaneateles lake, we created a suite of future land use scenarios based on conversations with stakeholders from the watershed. These land use scenarios were then analyzed with the Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs (InVEST) Nutrient Delivery Ratio model to assess different potential futures for nutrient loading of Skaneateles Lake. Results show that buffers are effective at reducing N loading by 20% and P loading by 24%. Further research is necessary to tie these results back to how these reductions may influence the occurrence of HABs.

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