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Skaneateles Lake water preservation efforts get boost from new state grant

Andy Zepp, Finger Lakes Land Trust executive director, stands on a bridge that stretches over a tributary of Skaneateles Lake.
Tarryn Mento
/
WAER News
Andy Zepp, Finger Lakes Land Trust executive director, stands on a bridge that stretches over a tributary of Skaneateles Lake.

New York State is taking steps to protect Skaneateles Lake’s water quality by focusing on its tributaries and the surrounding land.

Skaneateles Lake has a reputation for providing local residents with pristine drinking water, but pollutants are still a concern. ANndy Zepp, executive director of the Finger Lakes Land Trust, works to preserve the land and water of the region, said runoff tainted with fertilizer and other waste can threaten water quality.

“Skaneateles Lake is the unfiltered drinking water supply for the city of Syracuse. There’s a lot of concern about maintaining the water quality there and the health of the lake really depends on the health of the watershed of the areas around the lake,” Zepp said.

Zepp said a grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will allow them to regulate the land usage of 234 acres of farmland near the lake.

“We’re essentially purchasing the development rights, so it remains private property. And in this case, we’re limiting future development and we’re paying an appraised price to do that,” Zepp said.

The property has a brook on it that drains directly into Skaneateles Lake. Zepp said the tributary is located on a key part of the lake with importance beyond water quality.

“We’ve identified within the entire region some focus areas, and one of those is the south end of Skaneateles Lake, which has high hills around the lake. It’s very important for water quality. It also is recognized by the National Audubon Society as an important bird area. It’s a priority project for the New York State’s Open Space Conservation Plan,” Zepp said.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is continuing to award grants, so it’s possible the Finger Lakes Land Trust may receive more funds for its preservation efforts in the region.