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Halfman to Present at Owasco Symposium

Posted on Thursday, February 27, 2014

Focusing on the health of one of the region's Finger Lakes, Professor of Geoscience John Halfman will be the featured speaker of the Owasco Lake Symposium: "State of Owasco Lake." The symposium will take place from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 1, at Cayuga Community College in Auburn. The event is free and open to the public.

During the event, Halfman will be one of three scientists who will present their research and respond to questions about various aspects of Owasco Lake's current environmental status. In light of the event, Halfman was noted in a recent article published by The Citizen. The symposium aims to inform attendees about long-term protection and problems caused by the nutrient phosphorus generated from human activity throughout the watershed.

As a featured guest, Halfman's presentation "The Tropic Status of Owasco Lake" will focus on his as recent research during summer 2013. Halfman's current research interests include limnology, hydrogeochemistry, and sedimentology of lakes, investigating the records of change in lacustrine environments through the analysis of water, water column profiles, sediment cores, and high-resolution (1-kHz) seismic profiles. His recent projects focus on the limnology, hydrogeochemistry, and sedimentology of the Finger Lakes of central and western New York.

Halfman joined the HWS faculty in 1994 after teaching earth science and civil engineering at the University of Notre Dame. He received his B.S. from the University of Miami magna cum laude, his M.S. from the University of Minnesota and his Ph.D. from Duke University. Halfman has been researching large lakes since the 1980s, the Finger Lakes since the early 1990s, and has done research on Lake Superior and the East African Rift Lake. His research on the Finger Lakes includes the collection of limnological and hydrogeochemical data to investigate records of environmental change, the hydrogeochemical impact of zebra mussels, the source and fate of non-point source pollutants within these watersheds and water quality variability between watersheds. In addition to being active in research, Halfman is also the founder, science coordinator and active member of the Finger Lakes Institute.

The full article follows:


The Citizen
State of the Lake: March 1 Symposium Addresses Owasco's Health
Carrie Chantler • February 26, 2014

Owasco Lake serves many masters.

In addition to providing the drinking water for the city of Auburn and surrounding towns, the lake helps keep the county's lights on and provides resources for sewage treatment dilution.

Plus, the lake is a recreational destination. Ice fishing, skating, boating, kayaking, swimming and its natural beauty draw people to its shores all year long.

During the "State of Owasco Lake" symposium March 1, scientists will have the opportunity to respond to residents' questions about the lake's health, as well as its prognosis, with regard to its many demands.

The symposium aims to inform attendees about Owasco Lake's long-term protection and problems caused by the nutrient phosphorus generated from human activity throughout the watershed.

"All water bodies go through changes," said Douglas Ververs, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cayuga County. "We've also got some things to celebrate on this lake."

Among these are a reduction in treatment plant discharge rates and an increase in municipal systems meeting, and exceeding, state standards, he said.

"All accomplishments toward a cleaner lake and a change in its trophic (nutritional) state being on a slower basis," Ververs said.

The annual symposium is sponsored by CCE of Cayuga County as well as the Owasco Watershed Lake Association, the Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technology, Cayuga Community College, the Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and the Cayuga County Water Quality Management Agency.

Ververs said Cayuga County is "very fortunate" for the monthly meeting of the WQMA, a panel of engaged lake professionals that reviews the lake's ongoing use with an eye toward its health and maintenance, while also keeping local ordinances relative to the watershed updated.

The work of such organizations, along with community input, helped pass a state law regarding the transport of invasive species that mandates the removal of aquatic weeds from boats and trailers before launching into any of the Finger Lakes, Ververs said.

"We think the symposium is a great opportunity for people to think preseason about what are the top three things they could do to help make the watershed cleaner," he said.

Three speakers will present their scientific research on the lake's current status March 1.

John Halfman, principle scientist of the Finger Lakes Institute, will present trends he's observed in the lake as it compares to others in the region. His work, "The Trophic Status of Owasco Lake," includes research from summer 2013.

Clifford Callinan and Scott Kishbaugh work for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and will each present their research regarding implications of the lake's phosphorus levels and lake management issues.

"All of the speakers allow for a question-and-answer period. We often have insightful exchanges," Ververs said. "I look forward to this event every single year."

 


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