Dana Carris

Date of Award


Document Type



Environmental Resources Engineering

Thesis Advisor

Cornelius B. Murphy

Thesis Advisor

Ann Moore


Blue-green algae, agricultural runoff


Skaneateles Lake and its watershed are valuable natural resources to local communities, and the lake is the source of drinking water for the nearby city of Syracuse. In recent years, foam has been seen forming on the surface of Skaneateles Lake, and during late summer of this year was an outbreak of blue-green algae. Previous studies suggest that runoff from agricultural land in particular may be contributing nutrients to the lake that could influence the water quality. This study took surface water samples from four tributaries of Skaneateles Lake and analyzed them for orthophosphates, nitrate nitrogen, ammonia nitrogen, and total suspended solids. To compare the nutrient contributions of agricultural land with those of other land use types, two tributaries were chosen with mostly agricultural sub-watersheds and two were chosen with primarily forested sub-watersheds. The nutrient analyses on water samples did not show a clear distinction between agricultural and forested watersheds. However, secondary analyses on phosphorous in sediments derived from agricultural activity and sediment loading rates during wet weather events suggest significant impacts from agriculture.