Saturday, May 31, 2008

Next OWLA Board Meeting is Wed. June 4th!

Don't forget that the Owasco Watershed Lake Association will hold its monthly board of directors meeting on Wednesday June 4th at 7pm. The meeting will be held at the Springside Inn on West Lake Rd. in Fleming.

The public is always invited. Please come and see what OWLA is about and get involved in protecting our lake.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

OWLA is 20 years old! (Part 2)

Last time, I mentioned some of the great things that have happened during our groups first 20 years. It started me thinking about what the next 20 years could bring........... maybe I'll make that a "Part 3".

As promised, I said I would share some details on the founding of OWLA back in 1988. I believe the first orginizational meetings started in late 1987, and early 1988. By summer the paperwork had been filed to Incorporate the group and make its by-laws official. The founding group of directors was: Margaret Kilmer, Michael Janas, Irene Main, Jeanette Curin, Louis Vergamini, Dr. Joe Wasileski, Alan Kozlowski, George Spears, Ann Robson, Paul Lattimore Jr., Gordon Reed Jr., and Charles Greene. You might recognize that many of those people are still active in OWLA today.

In the sumer of 1988 OWLA's first regular board of directors meetings began and along with regular membership meetings. Standing committees were formed and the group began to blossom. That is where my involvement began. I had been attending many of the early meetings and got "hooked" by Gordon Reed Jr. to lead the Environmental Committee. I reluctantly accepted and we started to form some solid objectives and plans for the committee. A few months later I was asked to sit on the board and at the end of Paul Lattimore Jr's tenure as President in 1996, I was elected as the next President. I am still greatful to Gordon for pulling me into action with OWLA. It has been a great way to give back to our community and it's something I have really enjoyed. I have also met some really great people and developed some life long friendships.

Well...........back to the story, I think the first real big issue facing OWLA was the impending plan to build a prison in Moravia and the concern of the effect the prison's sewage would have on an outdated sewage treatment plant(STP). The Moravia STP was already known to have raw sewage overflows several times per year. OWLA launched a campaign to get not only a state-of-the-art STP but also a holding tank at the prison to balance sewage releases to the STP over a 24 hour period. OWLA had to threaten a lawsuit, but it brought the Corrections Commisioner to Auburn to negotiate and then announce a cooperative agreement. OWLA's membership roster swelled to over a thousand members during this period. Things were really happening, and OWLA won its first big battle!

Paul Lattimore remained President until the summer of 1996. Paul stepped down leaving behind a strong legacy of public service and conservation. The OWLA Board of Directors named Paul the first Honorary Lifetime member in August 1996. Paul is still active with the group today. Tony Hart was elected as the next President that fall and continued on for another 6 years until he stepped down in June of 2002. Al Kozlowski was Tony's succesor and served into the spring of this year. He has recently decided to step down and the election of his replacement comes next month. Al had the original idea, as well as being the champion for finding the funding and helping with the hiring of our full-time Watershed Inspector position.

Another key member was our long-time secretary Margaret Kilmer who was not only our secretary for almost 14 years, but was also a strong defender of the often neglected South East on Owasco shoreline. She had spent summers at her family's lake cottage since she was a little girl. Margaret has many, many stories of the "good old" Owasco Lake and Inlet when she was growing up. Margaret was also the second OWLA member to be given an Honorary Lifetime Membership by the Board in June of 2002.

Our members have also been involved in many groups that parallel OWLA's mission. Many of our Board members have also sat on the Cayuga County Water Quality Managment Agency, The Cayuga County Environmental Managment Council, and the Board for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cayuga County.

There are many others that have been actively involved in our success over the years. I wish I had time to list them all. Maybe we can tell more stories about them in another posting later this year.

I would like to again thank that core group that stepped up and volunteered 20 years ago to get this organization going. Its been quite a trip! Thanks to all who have volunteered and/or financially supported us over the years.

If you have not been involved up to now, please feel free to join us at one of our upcoming meetings. We need your help, now more than ever!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

OWLA is 20 years old this summer! (Part 1)

It really doesn't seem like it has been 20 years, but this summer marks the official aniversary of OWLA's incorporation. When I look back, it is amazing how much has happened and all the different improvements that we have seen in our Lake and Watershed.

Do you remember any of these? :

- a new state-of-the-art Moravia Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) , no more raw sewage overflows in the inlet!
- Community and Government efforts to get the same type of new STP in Groton (we haven't won this one quite yet, but some conditions have improved and we are still working on it!)
- a strict County Septic Inspection law and periodic septic inspections in the watershed.
- a volunteer water quality monitoring program (each summer) with support from the City of Auburn that is still active after 15 years!
- Development of an Owasco Lake State of the Lake Report and Owasco Lake Management Plan.
- OWLA started a 24 hour/7-day a week, water quality HOT LINE for the Owasco Lake watershed.
- A revived/active Water Quality Managment Agency in Cayuga County
- the proper clean-up of the old Smith Corona plant on the Owasco Inlet, Town of Groton.
- A full-time Owasco Lake Watershed Inspector
- Cooperation between Federal, State, and Local government all working to protect Owasco Lake (well..............most of the time).
- A new Sea Wall and complete overhaul of Emerson Park!
- A water quality monitoring buoy in Owasco Lake, sampling 24 hours a day!
- An ever improving Owasco Flats! (just the beginning!)
- too name just a few!

.... OWLA and its members have been leaders/facilitators in all of these efforts.

OWLA has been Instrumental in driving our elected officials into cooperative action. And it all got its start back in the late 1980's. A steering group was formed and Paul Lattimore was elected the first President of OWLA. Under Pauls' leadership and direction, things really started to happen.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I will go into more detail on OWLA's founding fathers and our initial efforts.

Before I sign-off, If you have been one the people that have helped us get to where we are today - Please take a minute and pat yourself on the

Also Thanks to our government partners; City of Auburn, Cayuga County Health Dept., Cornell Coop. Ext. of CC, CC Planning Dept. CC Soil and Water Conservation District, CC WQMA, NYSDEC, and the watershed Towns. Also our many elected officials which are too numerous to name.

We have all enjoyed working together to effect REAL changes! It takes a community working together to make great things happen!

Happy Birthday OWLA!

-T (Lakeman)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Looking for summer help with watershed inspection!

The Owasco Lake Watershed Inspector is looking for help this summer. See the job description we received from Jessica Miles today!

Do you know someone who might fit this position? If so, pass it on................

Job Description for Assistant Owasco Lake Watershed Inspector (Seasonal) Position

The Owasco Lake Watershed Inspection program is seeking two Assistant Watershed Inspectors (Seasonal) for the 2008 field season. Each position is a paid, full-time (including some weekend work) internship ($9.00/hour) for no more than twelve (12) weeks.

Tasks performed by the Assistant Watershed Inspector (Seasonal) will include, but are not limited to: identifying and inspecting areas of water quality concern, ability to perform some physical labor and work under inclement weather conditions, collect water and/or soil samples for analysis, assist staff with water quality related projects, complete reports using word processing, GIS, and other computer programs.

Qualifications: Completion of at least 60 credit hours, with a minimum of 12 credit hours in physical and biological sciences. Must possess a valid NYS driver’s license.

Contact: Please send resume and college transcript by June 6, 2008 to:

Jessica Miles, Owasco Lake Watershed Inspector
7413 County House Road
Auburn, NY 13021

Monday, May 19, 2008

Electronics Recycling Event - Nice Job!

Judging by the number of cars and SUV's I witnessed Saturday morning at the Natural Resources Center, the Electronics Recycling event was huge success. As usual the staff of Cornell Cooperative Ext., Cayuga Co. Planning, and the CC Soil and Water District did a great job collecting used electronics and propane tanks from the public. The weather cooperated to keep the staff dry and enthusiastic. I saw folks like Bruce Natale the County Environmental Engineer, Our Watershed Inspector; Jessica Miles, and CCE Educator Renee Jensen all working to keep the traffic moving through the parking lot in a timely manner. It should be noted that Bruce has been one of the strong advocates and early organizers of these recycling events in our county. Great Job guys!

Please note the other recycling and hazardous waste collections later this year on our OWLA News calendar. These events are great ways to keep wastes and refuse out of not only our watershed but also from contaminating our groundwater.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Owasco Flats - There's a lot going on!

Stop by and check out all the great things happening in the Owasco Flats. Thanks to a multitude of groups efforts, a renewed emphasis has appeared focused on improving many aspects of this large wetland habitat. Led by the Owasco Flats Nature Reserve, a variety of projects ranging from re-building a wetland water control structure to eradication of invasive plant species, have been taking place over the last several years. The Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT) has recently completed a study and report (link below) outlining the present condition of the flats, along with some great ideas for its future. The flats is a key environmental buffer which helps protect the quality of Owasco Lake. Wildlife found within the Flats include abundant populations of game species such as white tailed deer, wild turkey, and waterfowl as well as an occasional siting of a bald eagle. This area is also home to many very unique types of flora and fauna. Anyone who cares about protecting Owasco lake should take a few minutes to learn more about this very special area.

Better yet, stop by and take a hike or kayak up the Owasco Inlet to witness some unique sights and sounds of mother nature!

Link to the Cayuga County Parks & Trails Owasco Flats recreation web-site:

Link to the FLLT Report on Owasco Flats:

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

OWLA Board meeting this Wednesday Night! (5/7/08)

Don't forget that the Owasco Watershed Lake Association will hold its monthly board of directors meeting on Wednesday May 7th at 7pm. The meeting will be held at the Springside Inn on West Lake Rd. in Fleming. The public is invited.

Also, the OWLA Newsletter/Publications committee is always looking for help for the newsletter and also a future project to update the OWLA web-site. If you can type up or research articles or have experience developing or editing web site content, we would love to have your help. Feel free to e-mail us at or stop by the meeting.