The Jefferson Project at Lake George is expanding its statewide leadership role in the study of harmful algal blooms and other water-quality threats this summer with a new $1-million research project on Chautauqua Lake in Chautauqua County, made possible through funding from Chautauqua Institution and a county coalition.
The new research complements The Jefferson Project’s foundational research program on Lake George in Warren County, now in its eighth year.
Both Chautauqua Lake and Lake George are among the 12 priority water bodies identified for special protective efforts by New York state, as part of its harmful algal bloom (HAB) initiative, and are at extreme ends of the HAB spectrum. Officials said Chautauqua Lake has been severely impacted by harmful algal blooms for decades, particularly in its southern basin, while Lake George, widely regarded as one of the clearest and cleanest lakes in the country, experienced its first confirmed HAB last fall.
Officials said the Lake George HAB was relatively small and short-lived, and samples gathered at the time are now the subject of an intensive scientific analysis by Jefferson Project researchers to determine its cause.
Given the two lakes’ widely differing HAB histories, The Jefferson Project’s leaders say the data gathered on both lakes this summer will help them better understand the conditions that lead to the potentially devastating blooms and the actions that can be taken to prevent them. The Chautauqua Lake research began with a pilot program last year.
The Jefferson Project at Lake George combines Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology and powerful analytics with science to create a new model for environmental monitoring and prediction.
The project’s work is centered around a “Smart Sensor Network” that is deployed on lakes and surrounding watersheds to monitor the weather, the streams that feed the lakes, the water conditions from the lake surface to the lake bottom, and the circulation patterns of the water, officials said.