Skaneateles Lake Watershed Planning Model

Skaneateles Lake is one of the few sources of drinking water in New York state that is clean enough to supply unfiltered water to public distribution systems. There is considerable interest in protecting the quality of the water in the lake. Skaneateles Lake is the water source for the City of Syracuse; the villages of Skaneateles, Jordan, and Elbridge; and the towns of Elbridge and Skaneateles.

On behalf of the Town of Skaneateles, C&S began a watershed modeling program in 2003. This watershed modeling program considers the behavior of the watershed as a whole, rather than exclusively on a site-by-site basis. As part of the program, C&S has developed a system for predicting and managing the streamflows into Skaneateles Lake from lands within the Town. Developers in the lake watershed are required to provide hydrologic models of the entire portion of the lake watershed that contains their project. The developers are required to show that their projects are not adversely affecting the overall system at key design points and at the lake.

C&S reviews and assembles these hydrologic models into a master set of models. The master models will be used to monitor changes in watershed behavior that state regulations do not currently consider, including stream velocities, peak flow durations, and others. The results of the master models will also be used as design guidance for streambank restoration projects that have become popular private projects.

A watershed-based approach is more effective in identifying the sources of problems as well as identifying the most effective locations for mitigation measures to be implemented.