header graphic
 
spacer
 
spacer
 

More Ambient Monitoring Program (AMP) Topics:

 

Water Quality Monitoring
Latest Water Quality Information
Facts from the Biological Program
Fish Monitoring - You Can Participate
Live Water Quality Data from the Lake
Monitoring Locations

Onondaga Lake: Ice Cover

Parties Working with WEP
Posters - Learn about the Lake
Archive: AMP Reports
Archive: AMP Data Sets


Onondaga Lake Progress Report 2015

Celebrating a Decade of Improvements

21ST CENTURY INFRASTRUCTURE FOR A CLEANER ONONDAGA LAKE


Advanced wastewater treatment upgrades in 2004 and 2005 dramatically improved water quality conditions in Onondaga Lake. The lake will continue to benefit from ongoing optimization of treatment processes at the Metropolitan Syracuse Wastewater Treatment Plant (Metro).


The Clinton and Lower Harbor Brook storage facilities were fully operational in 2014, collecting 113 million gallons of combined sewage during storms and routing it to Metro for state-of-the-art treatment. It was estimated that the annual combined sewage percent capture in 2014 exceeded 95%, which is the goal for 2018.


The Onondaga County Save the Rain (STR) Program has been in effect for 5 years. Since its inception, the program has developed a comprehensive network of gray and green infrastructure solutions to manage stormwater runoff that help protect Onondaga Lake and its tributaries. This balanced approach has positioned Onondaga County as a national model for sustainable stormwater management. A number of green infrastructure projects were completed in 2014, including the East Washington Street Green Corridor and the Rainwater Harvesting System at the Carrier Dome.


Onondaga County’s Save the Rain program made substantial progress in 2014. Since 2010, 169 green infrastructure projects have been completed as part of the Save the Rain initiative, reducing inputs of stormwater and pollution to Onondaga Lake and its tributaries by 108 million gallons annually. Save the Rain raises awareness of effective ways to improve the environment by using rain barrels, rain gardens, green roofs, porous pavement, cisterns, and vegetated swales. Go to www.savetherain.us for more details.

 

WEP's AMP Team
Members of WEP's AMP Sampling Team

 

 

REMARKABLE IMPROVEMENTS IN WATER QUALITY

 

Water quality conditions in the northern two-thirds of Onondaga Lake were suitable for swimming throughout the summer of 2014. Although there is no public bathing beach at Onondaga Lake, bacteria levels and water clarity consistently meet regulatory standards for swimming throughout most of the lake.

 

And An Improving Fish Community…

 

Changes in the fish community of Onondaga Lake have occurred as water quality and habitat conditions have improved. Fish communities are good indicators of aquatic ecosystem conditions because they integrate physical, chemical, and biological conditions and express them in terms of species composition, age and growth characteristics, and reproductive success. The Largemouth Bass is one of Onondaga Lake’s largest fish, and the most popular sport fish. In 2014, Largemouth Bass catch rates were 50 fish captured per hour, second only to those reported in 2013 species.


Additionally, species richness has gradually increased since 2000. A total of 26 adult species were captured during the adult fish community survey in 2014. Since 2000, more than 166,000 individual fish have been captured or observed from Onondaga Lake by Onondaga County’s sampling efforts, representing fifty-three species.

 

CONTINUING PROGRESS IN THE RECLAMATION OF ONONDAGA LAKE

 

The County’s Save the Rain program supports innovative stormwater management. Onondaga County is conducting a phased program of combined sewer overflow (CSO) remediation with the goal of capturing or eliminating no less than 95% of CSO volume by 2018. This goal was achieved in 2014, four years ahead of schedule. To meet this goal, the County initiated the Save the Rain program, which is implementing green and gray infrastructure for removal of stormwater from the combined sewer system through green infrastructure projects, CSO storage with conveyance to Metro, and elimination of CSO discharge points. Twenty-two (22) green infrastructure projects were completed in 2014, including the East Washington Street Green Corridor and the Rainwater Harvesting System at the Carrier Dome, which are reducing annual stormwater by 923,000 and 903,000 gallons, respectively. In addition, sixty-six (66) green infrastructure projects have been identified for potential implementation in remaining priority CSO areas in 2015 and beyond.

 

 

 

Ambient Monitoring Program

In 1998, an Amendment Consent Judgment (ACJ) between Onondaga County, New York State and Atlantic States Legal Foundation was signed to resolve a lawsuit filed against Onondaga County for violations of the Clean Water Act. The lawsuit alleged that discharges from the Metropolitan Syracuse Wastewater Treatment Plant (Metro) and overflows from the combined sewer system (CSOs) precluded Onondaga Lake from meeting its designated best use. The ACJ obligates the County to undertake a phased program of wastewater collection and treatment improvements that will extend though the year 2012, monitor water quality response, and report annually on progress towards compliance.

The Ambient Monitoring Program (AMP) is Onondaga County’s comprehensive program to evaluate the quality of the waterways and track changes brought about by the improvements to the wastewater collection and treatment infrastructure and reductions in watershed sources of nutrients. As described above, the ACJ obligates Onondaga County to conduct this annual monitoring program.

AMP 5-Year Workplan

 

 

The County's five-year AMP Work plan, covering 2014 to 2018, is intended to comply with the requirements of the Fourth Stipulation to the ACJ and the State Pollution Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit for the Metropolitan Syracuse Wastewater Treatment Plant (Metro).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Key Provisions of the ACJ

The ACJ is designed to improve the water quality of Onondaga Lake and achieve full compliance with state and federal water quality regulations by December 1, 2012. The ACJ specifically includes a listing of over thirty projects to be undertaken over 15 years. Although completion of the entire project is not required until 2012. The ACJ was further amended (4th Stipulation) on November 16, 2009, extending the AMP through 2018.

The ACJ describes the intent of each project and sets time schedules for specific work related to each project to be completed. These milestones relate to such activities as completion of environmental review, start of construction, and commencement of operation.

The projects can be divided into three main categories:

  • Improvement and upgrading of the County's main sewage treatment plant (Metro)
  • Eliminating and/or decreasing the effects of the combined sewer overflows on the lake and its tributaries
  • A lake and tributary monitoring program designed to evaluate the effects of the improvement projects on the water quality of the lake and tributary streams.
  • The latest:

Onondaga Lake Amended Consent Judgment Compliance Program Monthly Report

 

 

Largemouth Bass Caught in Onondaga Lake
AMP Sampling Team with Largemouth Bass caught in Onondaga Lake


Onondaga Lake is on the road to recovery.
  Multiple efforts are underway to restore Onondaga Lake, and the lake is responding with greatly improved water quality and habitat conditions. These efforts include major improvements to the wastewater collection and treatment system, reductions in stormwater runoff, and remediation of industrial wastes.

For decades, Onondaga County Department of Water Environment Protection has monitored lake conditions. The Ambient Monitoring Program (AMP) provides a scientific basis for answering important questions about the lake.

  • How have the remedial efforts affected the lake?
  • Is the lake suitable for recreational uses?
  • Does the lake support a healthy aquatic community?


The answers to these questions are now evident. Nutrient concentrations are in steep decline, algal blooms have essentially disappeared, and oxygen levels are greatly improved. The lake supports a healthy balance of plants and animals. Interest in the lake as a recreational resource has surged.

 


2015 Annual Report: Onondaga Lake Ambient Monitoring Program (March 2017)

 

2015 AMP Annual Report - Complete Report Package (Compressed File)


 
Onondaga Lake Fishery: 2011 Fact Sheet (October 2011)
Through its Ambient Monitoring Program (AMP), WEP is capturing data that is indispensable to answering critical questions about the chemical, physical, and biological nature of Onondaga Lake and its tributaries (Onondaga Creek, Nine Mile Creek, Harbor Brook, Ley Creek, Tributary 5A) as well as the Seneca River system.

 

   
  WEP's AMP team catches a fish
 

A member of WEP's team netting a Largemouth Bass

Bouy Image Live data from Onondaga Lake.

WEP personnel are constantly checking the state of the water quality in the lake, the streams flowing into it, and the Seneca River to assess the health of the lake's ecosystem.

Required by state and federal regulations, the AMP also measures the effectiveness of a 15-year WEP plan to improve to the collection and treatment of sewage. Engineers, scientists, and regulators will use the data gathered to see if these efforts are restoring the water's quality and the surrounding habitat. They use the data, too, to see if further improvements are needed to meet water quality standards and community goals for this resource.
 


 

 
 
 
© 2001- 2017 Onondaga County, New York  All Rights Reserved.   |  Ongov.net  |  Privacy Statement | Directions & Parking | Language or Disability Access Assistance