The Otsego Lake Watershed Supervisory Committee (WSC) was established by the Village of Cooperstown under New York State Law and is a cooperative effort between the Towns of Middlefield, Otsego, Springfield, and the Village of Cooperstown. The WSC is dedicated to protecting the health of Otsego Lake, public health, its tributaries, and the watershed.

Meetings are held monthly or bi-monthly at the Cooperstown Village Hall and are open to the public. Notices of the meetings are on the Village calendar. Al Keck serves as the Inspector for septic systems in the Lake’s watershed. Charged with the responsibility of protecting the water quality of the Lake, the WSC has supervised thousands of septic inspections over the years and routinely inspects the 374 septic systems in the watershed. In its regulatory role, the WSC assists in issuing permits for hundreds of new and upgraded systems.

The recent Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and other threats to the Lake have enhanced the WSC’s responsibilities for the watershed as outlined in the law. Last year, all three towns and the Village jointly funded the position of a Scientific Advisor, Dr. Kiyoko Yokota, a professor from SUNY Oneonta, as a consultant for the WSC. The Village and its Mayor serve as the WSC’s primary administrative and political contact when dealing with New York State (NYS).

The WSC is looking forward to working with organizations and town governments in our community who have interest in developing a comprehensive watershed plan, also known as a 9-Element Plan. A NYS Department of State grant was applied for and received approval, with the Village of Cooperstown as the administrator. It will be a robust team effort.

The WSC has collaborated with partners over the past year to begin the work involved in developing a comprehensive watershed plan. This advance work was accomplished by a dedicated group, including colleagues at the Biological Field Station; SUNY Oneonta; the Towns of Otsego, Middlefield and Springfield; Otsego County Conservation Association, Otsego County Soil and Water District and the Otsego Lake Association. This work will serve as a foundation for the full comprehensive plan that is developed for our watershed and includes developing water quality measures, advancing testing, and installing radar stations and gauges.

The comprehensive watershed plan will provide a structure for the study of and plan for preventing and/or dealing with many threats to the watershed and our Lake. The health of the Lake and watershed is affected by roadway management, land use, sediment, nutrients and much more. The region’s recreation, drinking water, and economy are all dependent on its health. Our experience is not unlike other lakes in our region and we will learn from them as well. This must be a collaborative effort of governments, civic and environmental groups, businesses, and citizens. The WSC is working to bring the people and plans together to continue this work.