In an attempt to lessen the impact of phosphorus — a major contributor to algae — on Cayuga Lake, the University announced Friday that it will conduct an intensive $2.1 million study of the lake. Conducted in conjunction with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the study aims to pinpoint the locations where phosphorus enters the lake.
If a state permit for the study is approved, Cornell staff and students will analyze the water quality of the lake and determine the level of phosphorus that can be discharged into the lake without compromising its water quality.
While the study is being conducted, the amount of phosphorus discharged from the University’s Lake Source Cooling facility will be reduced for an interim period as required by the NYSDEC permit, according to The Ithaca Journal.
Lake source cooling is the process by which water is drawn from the lake’s frigid bottom to cool buildings on Cornell’s campus. The process returns water, and any phosphorus, to the southern end of Cayuga Lake. There, the phoshporus may act as a natural fertilizer for algae.
Cornell will finance the $2.1 million study, which is estimated to take more than three years, Simeon Moss, deputy spokesman for the University, told The Ithaca Journal.
However, not everyone supports the study.
“The proposed Cornell study is simply a ruse to allow Lake Source Cooling to continue to pollute Cayuga Lake for years, if not decades, to come,” Walter Hang, president of the environmental database firm Toxics Targeting told The Journal. “It makes no sense whatsoever to have Cornell have any role in dealing with the lake’s problems. Cornell is causing the lake’s problems.”