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Finger Lakes Institute, Cornell Awarded Research Grants


The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York State Water Resources Institute (NYSWRI) at Cornell University on Thursday announced $325,994 in grant awards for 11 projects that address a range of environmental research and education needs to advance water resource and ecosystem restoration priorities for New York’s Great Lakes, Hudson River Estuary, and Mohawk River basin watersheds.

“Protecting the health of New York’s remarkable watersheds will help ensure aquatic habitats continue to thrive and that communities are better prepared to withstand the challenges of climate change along their shorelines,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “Through DEC’s partnership with the New York State Water Resources Institute at Cornell University, secured through the State’s Environmental Protection Fund, these grants are advancing valuable education programs and projects that will support DEC’s work managing New York’s watersheds.”

Great Lakes Watershed

Project grants help implement the New York Great Lakes Action Agenda’s goals to reduce or eliminate releases of persistent toxic substances, control sediment loadings so aquatic life is protected, prevent and control invasive species, and conserve and restore native fish and wildlife and their habitats. The seven projects selected for funding through the NYSWRI annual request for proposals (RFP) are:

Cornell University, $33,700: FLX PFAS Project: Targeted Water Sampling to Identify Sources of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in the Finger Lakes collects up to 200 water samples with the help of undergraduate students and integrate the resulting PFAS concentration data into a web-based platform to communicate findings to the public.

Cornell University, $7,200: Understanding the Impacts of Tile Drain Density on Watershed-scale Nutrient Concentrations Across New York State to create a geospatial dataset covering New York State to assess the impact of agricultural tile drainage on nitrate and phosphorus levels in streams. Statistical models will be built to compare nutrient concentrations between areas with significant tile drainage and those with limited drainage, informing decisions on prioritizing best management practices to mitigate nutrient loadings in key agricultural regions. This project connects with other DEC and WRI-funded projects in Lake Ontario and the Finger Lakes that are evaluating benthic cyanobacteria in shoreline environments.

Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS), Finger Lakes Institute, $39,990: Tolerance of aquatic macrophytes to water quality indicators in the Finger Lakes watershed enhances understanding of aquatic macrophyte associations with water quality indicators in New York’s Finger Lakes region, leveraging data from well-established statewide programs like the Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program (CSLAP) and the Watercraft Inspection Steward Program Application (WISPA). The study seeks to uncover relationships between water quality indicators and macrophyte occurrences, offering insights crucial for effective resource management and conservation efforts statewide.

State University of New York, ESF Partnering with Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS), Finger Lakes Institute, $40,000: Isolation of Benthic Cyanobacteria and Investigation into their Toxin Production from the Finger Lakes and Embayments of Lake Ontario creates understanding of toxin production in freshwater ecosystems by known benthic cyanobacteria – based on variables such as nutrient availability, temperature, and light – through laboratory experiments in controlled conditions.

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