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