Colleges help clean up Owasco Lake – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Colleges help clean up Owasco Lake

Finger Lakes Institute provides resources for monitoring water quality

Aug. 17, 2006 AUBURN—President Mark D. Gearan this afternoon gratefully accepted $325,000 in state funding from State Sen. Michael F. Nozzolio for The Finger Lakes Institute. The majority of the funds will be used to conduct a multi-institutional scientific study of water quality in Owasco Lake, the first significant grant targeted on scientific research since the Institute was founded at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2004.

“I am extremely pleased that Senator Nozzolio has secured funding that will allow The Finger Lakes Institute to work toward solutions to many of the problems facing Owasco Lake. I commend the Senator’s many initiatives that promote and preserve our greatest natural asset – the Finger Lakes,” said President Gearan. “The Colleges’ Finger Lakes Institute is an invaluable resource helping to protect critical water supplies and ways of life. We greatly appreciate all of the Senator’s efforts on our behalf.”

With the $325,000 funding announced today, The Finger Lakes Institute will have the resources necessary to conduct a study of the water quality of Owasco Lake, collecting, managing and distributing new information. Under the direction of Professor John Halfman, and using the JB Snow, the Colleges’ 25-ft. research vessel, researchers will routinely collect data from streams and multiple sites in the lake from spring through fall in 2007. The data gathered will be used to assist Owasco Lake stakeholders as well as advance comparisons with among the other Finger Lakes.

In 2005, Halfman, professor of geoscience and environmental studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, began a study that collected water quality data from seven of the 11 Finger Lakes. The preliminary results indicated that of the lakes studied, Owasco ranked last in water quality.

Halfman was excited to receive the funding and said he looks forward to working with others to help improve the water quality. He said this is the first time that key scientists will work together through the Institute to address a common cause. He noted, in addition to Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ scientists Tara Curtin, Megan Brown and Jim Ryan, the research will bring together scientists from Finger Lakes Community College, Keuka College, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse University, Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technology, Upstate Freshwater Institute, and the U.S. Geological Survey at Cortland.

“This is an awesome opportunity to work with others on a common problem. Each scientist will supply his or her own expertise to investigate the complex problems in Owasco Lake,” Halfman explained. “We deeply appreciate Senator Nozzolio’s efforts to improve Owasco Lake, and implement initiatives to ensure the long-term quality that will benefit all of the Finger Lakes.”

Nozzolio said it was a pleasure to secure funding for The Finger Lakes Institute. “The Institute has clearly made a difference in our ability to recognize and focus on the most critical threats to our lakes and I’m extremely proud of their hard work on the behalf of our entire region.”

In 2002, Senator Nozzolio secured $1 million in state assistance to create The Finger Lakes Institute on the HWS campus, which is dedicated to the promotion of environmental research and education about the Finger Lakes and surrounding environments. Its faculty and staff gather, monitor and evaluate data critical to the future of the Finger Lakes region.

An article on the gift was included in the Friday, Aug. 1 issue of The Ithaca Journal. Read $420,000 designated to clean up Owasco Lake.