Why Is Lake Source Cooling Bad For Cayuga Lake?

Reason #1: Lake Source Cooling (LSC) would increase phosphorus pollution

The reason LSC would increase phosphorus pollution is because of its deep water inlet and shallow water outlet. Phosphorus and other pollutants that would normally settle to the bottom of the lake would be brought back up and discharged into shallow water by LSC. This "recycled" pollution would therefore increase phosphorus levels in Cayuga Lake's surface water, causing increased algae blooms, seaweed growth and odors.

Reason #2: It would spread dangerously polluted southern waters up the lake.

It's an unfortunate fact that the south end of Cayuga Lake is seriously contaminated with all kinds of pollutants - including fecal bacteria. With its deep water inlet two miles up the lake, and its shallow water outlet just off the shore of Stewart Park, LSC would act like a giant blender, mixing the fouled southern waters well up the lake. Bacteria counts could rise significantly at Bolton Point and beyond, thus threatening drinking water for thousands of area residents.

Reason #3: LSC would thermally pollute Cayuga Lake.

Cornell has said that no long-term heating of the lake would occur. The University claims that heat added to the lake each year by LSC would "be lost to the atmosphere" during the winter.

In fact, the lake must store some heat initially in order to support the added heat input of up to 70 megawatts. LSC would never remove heat (Joules, BTUs, megawatt-hours, etc.) from the lake. LSC would add heat to the lake summer and winter, because cooling for equipment is needed even in winter.

People have most likely been confused by Cornell's favorite graph showing that the LSC outlet temperature fluctuates both above and below the lake water temperature. At no time does LSC remove heat from the lake, it always adds heat.

Since there is always heat input, the lake water must rise in temperature to support the heat flux, otherwise it would get really hot. The lake water does not get hot, but it does change temperature when warmer or colder is added.

But is that really a problem? After all, Milliken Station hasn't seemed to cause any harm.

We don't know what harm Milliken Station has caused because there is insufficient data to make such an evaluation. Furthermore, comparing Milliken to LSC is like comparing apples to oranges because they are so different. For example, Milliken is many miles away from the environmentally sensitive south end of Cayuga Lake. And because its intake and discharge are close together, and both near the surface, the heating effect of Milliken is far more localized.

But what is perhaps most significant about Milliken Station is its age; it was constructed long before we had strong environmental laws. If Milliken Station were being proposed today, it would no doubt be rejected - as was the last electric power plant proposed for Cayuga Lake.

Prepared by the Cayuga Lake Defense Fund (CLDF).
For more information, Call: (607) 275-9054 or 272-7914
or email info@cldf.org