Cornell's proposed 55 million dollar Lake Source Cooling Project would be financed by tax-exempt, municipal bonds. Cold water (41F) would be pumped from a depth of 250 feet near the bottom of Cayuga Lake and piped more than two miles to a heat exchange facility located near the southern terminus of the lake. The cold lake water, which is phosphorus-rich, would pass continuously through heat exchangers, absorbing heat from a five-mile circulating loop that would send chilled water to the campus and return warmed water to be re-chilled. This heat exchange would raise the lake water temperature as much as 15F.
After passing through heat exchangers, the warmed, phosphorus-rich lake water would not be returned to the deep portion of the lake where it originated. Instead, it would continuously discharge into the shallow, southern portion of Cayuga Lake through a four foot diameter pipe stretching 500 feet into the lake where the water is nine to 12 feet deep. Ambient levels of total phosphorus reportedly monitored near the proposed Lake Source Cooling discharge as well as in the vicinity of the intake exceed New York State guidance values.6 The new discharge is expected to increase phosphorus loading by an estimated four to seven percent.