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Water Management Associations
Federal Regulators Ease Phosphorus Restrictions on Ocondaga Lake
Phosphorus is a mineral that in high concentrations poses one of the greatest threats to Ocondaga Lake’s health. Commonly found in fertilizer and animal and human waste, it can choke a lake to death by promoting the excessive growth of algae, microorganisms that feed on the phosphorus.

When algae grows out of control, it gives a lake a cloudy, green appearance and makes it sink, rendering the lake unfit for swimming or other recreations uses. It also sucks up the oxygen that fish need to breathe.

Onondaga Lakes developed a well-earned reputation as a stinky, dirty body of water that fish ad humans alike should avoid. Pollution forced a ban on swimming in 1940 and on fishing in 1970 due to being used as a cesspool by local industries and governments for decades. That changed 1998 when a federal court decree began a process that has dramatically improved the health of the lake.

The decree required the county to slash phosphorus levels in the lake, but in June of 2012 regulators eased the restriction on the amount of phosphorus can be discharged from the treatment plant. Onondaga County had made so much progress in removing phosphorus that the additional improvements necessary to meet the standard set in 1998 would not be worth the enormous expense; $265 million to $1 billion on top of the already $400 million the county has already spent in upgrades.

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Clearer Lake Means More Native Plants - There's a dense new weed growing in Bald Eagle Lake. The good news: it's native. The bad news: it makes boating difficult.

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