The Oneida Lake and Watershed Management Plan

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Biological Monitoring

In 1996, New York Rivers United completed a biological assessment and survey of the East Branch of Fish Creek. Six sites were sampled in Lewis County. Overall, the study found no major signs of pollution. The water quality and variety of aquatic insects sampled indicates a healthy stream. However, there was a concern with water temperature that rose as high as 76 degrees Fahrenheit. High water temperatures can affect the stocked rainbow and brown trout populations and alter the aquatic insect populations. The report attributes high temperatures in the East Branch of Fish Creek to poor forest management techniques that fail to leave enough stream canopies to provide the necessary insulation from the sun.

The NYS DEC's Stream Biomonitoring Unit began monitoring and assessing the water quality of the State's rivers and streams by using benthic macroinvertebrate communities in 1972. Biological monitoring reveals temporal trends in water quality. These trends were summarized in the report Twenty-Year Trends in Water Quality of Rivers and Streams in New York State Based on Macroinvertebrate Data 1972-1992 and can be found in Table 4.3.1. Overall trends for the Oneida Lake watershed generally show no change or an improvement in water quality from 1972 to 1992. One of the greatest improvements in NYS documented by the DEC occurred in Oneida Creek below the City of Oneida. The 1982 upgrade of the Oneida City Sewage Treatment Plant changed the fauna from a severely impacted community of worms and midges to a diverse community of mayflies, stoneflies, and caddisflies (Bode et al 1993).

NYS DEC Stream Biomonitoring Trends 1972 to 1992 for the Oneida Lake Watershed
Site/Reach 1992 Water Quality Assessment Change from 1972

Canastota Creek, Canastota Moderately Impacted No Change
Chittenango Creek, Chittenango Slightly Impacted No Change
Cowaselon Creek, Canastota Moderately Impacted No Change
Limestone Creek, Fayetteville Slightly Impacted No Change
Limestone Creek, Fayetteville Slightly Impacted No Prior Data
Little Bay Creek, below Central Square Severely Impacted No Prior Data
Oneida Creek above Sherrill Slightly Impacted No Change
Oneida Creek below Sherrill Slightly Impacted Improved
Oneida Creek below Oneida Slightly Impacted Improved
Oneida River, below Lake Outlet Moderately Impacted No Prior Data
Sconondoa Creek above Vernon Slightly Impacted No Change
Sconondoa Creek below Vernon Moderately Impacted Improved
Sconondoa Creek in Sherrill Slightly Impacted No Change

Source: NYS DEC 1993 Executive Report: Twenty-Year Trends in Water Qualtiy of Rivers and Streams in New York State Based on Macroinvertebrate Data 1972-1992.

Biological monitoring is continuing in the Oneida Lake watershed under the NYS DEC RIBS (Rotating Intensive Basin Studies) program. During the summer of 2001, 12 streams in the Oneida Lake watershed underwent a field examination of macroinvertebrate samples. The results of the preliminary field assessments are presented in the table below. Final assessments will be made following laboratory processing of the samples (the final assessments are nearly always within one category of the field assessment). The assessment categories are as follows: nonimpacted = very good water quality; slightly impacted = good water quality; moderately impacted = poor water quality; and severely impacted = very poor water quality.

NYS DEC Stream Biological Monitoring: Preliminary Field Assessment's for the Oneida Lake Watershed
Site Field Assessment

Sconondoa Creek Moderately Impacted
Wood Creek Moderately Impacted
Butternut Creek Slightly Impacted
Canastot a Creek Slightly Impacted
Chittenango Creek Slightly Impacted
Limestone Creek Slightly Impacted
Oneida Creek Slightly Impacted
Stony Creek Slightly Impacted
West Branch Fish Creek Slightly Impacted
Canada Creek Non-Impacted
Mad River Non-Impacted
Scriba Creek Non-Impacted

Source: Personal Communication, Robert Bode, NYS DEC-Albany, February 2002

During the summer of 2002, the DEC's biological monitoring DEC's biological monitoring Lake watershed. Intensive macroinvertebrate assessments will be conducted on an additional six sites potentially including Sconondoa Creek in Sherrill, Fish Creek at Fish Creek Landing, Chittenango Creek in Bridgeport, Scriba Creek at Route 23, Wood Creek at Erie Boulevard in Rome, and the Mad River in Camden. Intensive sampling sites are chosen based on the following criteria:

  1. Streams with significant impairment, not meeting designated use;
  2. Streams with prior status on the statewide Priority Waterbodies List;
  3. Streams of regional interest or concern;
  4. Streams that may be considered representative of watershed reference conditions; and
  5. Stream sites that have suitable access for both biological and chemical sampling.
The DEC's final biological assessments of the Oneida Lake watershed will be presented in the next RIBS report for the Oswego-Seneca-Oneida Rivers Drainage Basin. Additional information on biological sampling in the Oneida Lake watershed is detailed in Chapter II Section 4.3.6 Rotating Intensive Basin Studies (RIBS).

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For more information on the Oneida Lake Watershed Management Plan activities e-mail the Central New York Regional Planning Board.

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