Lake and Watershed Management Plans

Why Does Your Lake Association Need a Lake Management Plan?

To guide the protection or restoration of your lake, it is important to have a plan that identifies issues, sets goals, develops potential remediation strategies and evaluates proposed outcomes.  In many cases, grant funding is also dependent upon the existence of an overall lake management plan.  If you are just starting this process, Chapters 9-11 of Diet for a Small Lake is a great place to start,  but this page will also help you find additional information about lake management planning in NYS.

Plans to Restore or Protect Water Quality

Most lake associations become interested in lake and watershed management when a perceived problem occurs on their lake. Nuisance aquatic weeds, algae growth, or turbidity often spur action on the local level. Some lakes can become impaired for their designated use as a public water supply or recreational (contact) waterbody. Many of them have been designated by the NYS DEC as part of the 303(d) Impaired Waterbody List. Many lakes on this list have been determined to have nutrient levels that lead to undesirable water quality. The nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus are the primary contributors to excessive weed and algae growth in lakes. The goal of most lake management programs is to reduce the amount of nutrients and sediment entering a lake.

Some lakes, on the other hand, have very good water quality, and lake associations want a proactive plan to keep it that way.  

Information about the water quality of many NYS waterbodies can also be found on the NYS DEC website.  Water quality monitoring is often a first step in the development of a plan.  Lake associations that are participating in the Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program (CSLAP) can use that data as the foundation of a lake management plan.

NYSFOLA Watershed Management Primer

In 1996 New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) began testing a program model that would allow watershed management programs to be developed quickly with limited funds using New York State Federation of Lake Associations (NYSFOLA) lake associations as the core organizing groups.

Four lakes ultimately became NYSFOLA cooperative test projects with NYSDEC funding. Two other lakes received separate NYSDEC and/or other agency funding and independently used the NYSDEC program model.  

 A final survey from the Committee identified several issues critical to success as well as several challenges and problems in the projects.  The lessons learned from the project continue to serve as guidance for lake association:.  A Primer for Developing a Successful Watershed Management Program.

Tools For Lake Managment Planning

Wikiwatershed Freshwater Stewardship Web Tools – WikiWatershed is an initiative of Stroud™ Water Research Center. The Stroud Center seeks to advance knowledge and stewardship of freshwater systems through global research, education, and watershed restoration.  Check out the “Model My Watershed” app and more.

US Geological Survey Stream Stats Web Site – StreamStats provides access to spatial analytical tools that are useful for water-resources planning and management, and for engineering and design purposes. The map-based user interface can be used to delineate drainage areas, get basin characteristics and estimates of flow statistics, and more. Available information varies from state to state.

US Geological Survey Science in Your Watershed Web Site – A wide range of tools and information provided by the USGS.

USDA Web Soil Survey – What are the soils in your watershed?  Are they highly erodable?  Do they support septic systems?  Web Soil Survey (WSS) provides soil data and information produced by the National Cooperative Soil Survey. It is operated by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and provides access to the largest natural resource information system in the world. 

Hiring a Lake Management Professional  Tips for NYSFOLA Members  –  Hiring a lake management consultant to do work on your lake?  Take a look at our brochure to help you plan and implement lake management strategies.

NYSFOLA Partnership with the SUNY Oneonta Graduate Program in Lake Management 

Since 2012, NYSFOLA has partnered with the SUNY Oneonta Graduate Program in Lake Management to provide a mechanism for member lake associations to have management plans prepared by graduate students in the program. NYSFOLA provides funding to the Oneonta Foundation in order to support the work on selected NYSFOLA member lakes.  Links to many of those documents can be found below.

US EPA Nine Element Plan

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has prepared a Introduction to Watershed Planning module. They recommend a 9 Element Plan. They also have published a “Handbook for Developing Watershed Plans to Restore our Waters“. A “Quick Guide” version of the document is available.

Lake Management Plan Examples

There are many good examples of lake management plans in New York State. Here links to some examples:

Ballston Lake Watershed Protection and Management Plan (2002, Capital District Regional Planning Commission)

Big Bowman Pond (2019, SUNY Oneonta)

Brant Lake Watershed Assessment (2000, Warren County SWCD)

Brant Lake Management Plan (2015, Alejandro Reyes, SUNY Oneonta)

Canadarago Lake Watershed Protection Plan (2014, Carter Bailey, SUNY Oneonta)

Cayuga Lake Watershed Management Plan (2001, Central NY Regional Planning and Development Board)

Cazenovia Lake Management Plan (2014, Daniel Kopec, SUNY Oneonta)

Chautauqua Lake Watershed Management Plan (2010, Chautauqua County Department of Planning & Economic Development)

The State of the Chateaugay Lakes (1999, Prepared for the New York State Federation of Lake Associations Watershed Management Planning Project by Joe Racette and Erin Burns, NYS DEC, Dr. Lyn McIlroy and Dr. Richard Lamb (SUNY Plattsburgh))

Chateaugay Lakes Watershed Management Plan (1999, Chateaugay Lakes Association)

Conesus Lake Watershed Management Plan (2003, Livingston County Planning Department and EcoLogic, LLC)

Glen Lake Watershed Management Plan (1998, Glen Lake Watershed Technical Advisory Committee)

Grass Lake Management Plan (2014, Owen Zaengle, SUNY Oneonta)

Hatch and Bradley Brook Reservoirs Management Plan (2015, Jason Luce, SUNY Oneonta)

Honeoye Lake Management Plan (2007, Honeoye Lake Watershed Task Force)

Loon Lake (Warren County) Watershed Assessment (2004, Warren County SWCD)

Melody Lake Management Plan (2002, Melody Lake Association)

Lake Moraine Comprehensive Lake Management Plan (2016, Benjamin P. German, SUNY Oneonta)

Oneida Lake Management Plan (2004, Central NY Regional Planning & Development Board)

Otisco Lake Watershed Management Plan (2014, Onondaga County et. al.)

Lake Oscawana Lake Management Plan (2008, Princeton Hydro, LLC)

Otsego Lake Watershed Management Plan (1998, prepared by the Otsego Lake Watershed Council, 2007 updated by the Otsego County Water Quality Coordinating Committee)

Panther Lake Management Plan (2014, Derek K. Johnson, SUNY Oneonta)

State of Rushford Lake (2016, Edward J. Kwietniewski, SUNY Oneonta)

Land to Lake Perspectives:  A Watershed Management Plan for Saratoga Lake (2002, The LA Group PC)

Schroon Lake Watershed Management Plan (2010, Warren County SWCD et al)

Thunder Lake State of the Lake Report and Management Plan (2018, Patrick Goodwin, SUNY Oneonta)

Truesdale Lake Management Plan (2017, Christian Fletcher Jenne, SUNY Oneonta)  

Windover Lake – State of the Lake and Management Plan (2016, Jenna Leskovec, SUNY Oneonta)