Water issues in Central New York and the region

A major ongoing local engineering project implemented by Honeywell International and Parsons Engineering is the mitigation of mercury contamination in the restoration of Onondaga Lake. The lake restoration was completed in 2016. We continue to evaluate long-term changes in the mercury content in the water column and biota of the lake. We are working on an article on the recovery of mercury in fisheries in the lake. I continue to work with Honeywell to communicate information on the restoration of the lake to the public.

In recent years, the frequency, magnitude, and duration of harmful algal blooms (HABs) events have increased in U.S. inland lakes, most prominently in upstate New York. This is likely a manifestation of changing climate. Cyanotoxins produced by HABs pose significant threats to public and aquatic ecosystem health. HABs events were reported for over 150 ponds, reservoirs, and lakes in New York in 2021. Skaneateles Lake is the main drinking water supply of Syracuse with a filtration avoidance agreement. Skaneateles has experienced HAB episodes annually in late summer since 2017. We have two research projects on nutrient inputs from tributaries and atmospheric deposition, and legacy nutrients in sediments in Skaneateles Lake (with C. Scholz Earth Science), funded by the Skaneateles Lake Association. I have given several general audience presentations on HABs.

I am involved in analysis of a large mercury contaminated river/estuary ecosystem, the Penobscot River and Estuary in ME. This contamination occurred in the late 1960s and has been the subject of a litigation in U.S. District Court in Maine between the Natural Resources Defense Council (NDRC) and a chemical company. I analyzed the contamination and made recommendations to the court on remediation strategies. I have been an expert witness in the case. In fall 2021 the District Court heard final arguments about a settlement on the case in which I testified. We await the judge’s final decision on the settlement. If the proposal is approved, I would serve as an administrator to make decisions concerning the disbursement of funds resulting from the settlement.