Owasco Lake Tributary Assessment and Management Plan Development
Cayuga County, NY

Grantee: Cayuga County Department of Planning and Development
Basin Program Funds: $15,015
Non-federal Funds: $5,025
Project Duration: 07/2002 - 07/2003
Status: complete

Problem Statement
Owasco Lake’s use is impaired by excessive loadings of sediments and nutrients. It is listed in New York State’s 1996 Priority Water Bodies List for the Oswego-Seneca-Oneida River Basin. This report states that the "Owasco Inlet, Dutch Hollow Brook, Sucker Brook and Veness Brook contribute sediments, nutrients and pesticides from stream bank erosion and row crop agriculture" to Owasco Lake. This sediment deposition results in turbidity problems for water supply and excessive weed growth in Owasco Lake, a major source of drinking water in Cayuga County. Efforts to improve water quality are deemed worthy of the expenditures because the resolution potentials for Owasco Lake and Dutch Hollow, Sucker and Veness brooks are listed as high.

The 1996 Priority Water Bodies List for the Oswego-Seneca-Oneida River Basin also states that Owasco Lake, Dutch Hollow Brook, and Sucker Brook need study and management plans to resolve the impairments to their water quality. Owasco Lake has a watershed management plan that was developed from the issues of concern identified by stakeholders in the State of the Owasco Lake Watershed Report and this plan was approved in 2001 to address potential impacts to the water quality of Owasco Lake. This plan was developed through the collaboration, cooperation and work of numerous individuals - including agency staff; local, state and federal officials; and the public - to allow the communities in the watershed to take control of the health of Owasco Lake and protect its quality. This plan recognizes the vital importance of stream corridor protection and health for the long-term protection of water quality in Owasco Lake through its goal of "stabilizing stream banks to reduce the delivery of sediment and nutrients to Owasco Lake."


  • County tax maps will be consulted to identify property owners along Dutch Hollow, Sucker and Veness brooks.
  • Dutch Hollow, Sucker and Veness brooks will be evaluated to identify areas of stream bank erosion, downed trees, and other problem areas. These sites will be marked by global positioning system (GPS) and information on the sites, including the cause of the problem, will be recorded for use in the development of management plans.
  • The stream assessment data collected in the field will be organized. From this data, management plans will be developed, including recommendations and estimated costs.
  • Geographic information system (GIS) analysts will analyze elevation data to highlight areas of steep slope and analyze satellite imagery and aerial photographs to identify areas of highly erodible land cover and areas of stream bank erosion
  • The management plans for the three tributaries and the comparison of methodologies to identify areas of stream bank will be disseminated to local agencies.

The assessments of Veness, Dutch Hollow and Sucker brooks were completed. Areas of stream bank erosion and other problem areas were identified and recorded using a GPS. A GIS analyst utilized the GPS information from the field assessments and mapped areas of stream bank erosion, downed trees, or other problem areas.

A management plan for a section of Dutch Hollow Brook utilizing fluvial geomorphology (Appendix A of the Dutch Hollow Stream Bank Management Plan) was developed. County staff assisted so that they could gain first-hand knowledge of fluvial geomorphology and soil and water conservation district (SWCD) staff collected the survey data.

The field data collected was analyzed by a SWCD senior conservation district technician, watershed resource specialist and Cayuga County’s environmental engineer. From this data, management plans were developed and written for Dutch Hollow, Veness and Sucker brooks that included recommendations and estimated costs. Recommendations included soft engineering and natural restoration techniques where possible.

Predicted stream bank erosion locations were determined and mapped by a GIS analyst. Stream bank potential determinations are the result of analyses performed using GIS tools and digital elevation data. The results of these analyses were compared to those results obtained in the field. A short report was written entitled Comparison of Predicted and Field Identified Erosion Locations for Veness, Sucker and Dutch Hollow Brooks.

The management plans for the three tributaries were disseminated to the members of the Cayuga County Water Quality Management Agency, the Owasco Watershed Lake Association, Onondaga County SWCD, and the supervisors of the towns through which the streams flow. Press releases were distributed with information on the release of the plans and where they could be reviewed. The comparison of the GIS analysis to the field data was disseminated to the Cayuga County Water Quality Management Agency and its members, and other interested parties.

Contact: Ms. Michele Wunderlich, 315-253-1107


Great Lakes Commission des Grands Lacs.  2805 S. Industrial Highway, Suite 100.  Ann Arbor, MI  48104-6791.  phone: 734/971.9135.  fax: 734/971-9150.  projects.glc.org. Join the Friends of the Great Lakes GLIN Partner