Land use within the watershed varies considerably, from the predominantly forested and agricultural upper reaches of Nine Mile and Onondaga Creeks to the heavily urbanized lower reaches of most all of the tributaries in and around the vicinity of Syracuse.  

 

Table 1.  Waters in the Onondaga Lake Watershed that are currently listed as impaired under the 2012 NYS 303(d) List of Impaired Waters.  

WaterbodySection/SegmentCause/Pollutant1SourceYear Listed 
Onondaga LakeNorthern endDioxin, mercury, PCBs, other toxinsContaminated sediment1998
Southern endDioxin, mercury, PCBs, other toxinsContaminated sediment1998
Southern endPathogenCSOs, municipal, urban runoff2008
OutletDissolved oxygen/oxygen demandMunicipal, urban runoff2008
Onondaga CreekUpper and tribsTurbidityStreambank erosion2008
Middle and tribsTurbidityStreambank erosion2008
Middle and tribsPathogens, nutrients (phosphorus), ammoniaCSOs, municipal, urban runoff2008
Lower and tribsTurbidityStreambank erosion2010
Lower

1. pathogens 

2. nutrients (phosphorus)

3. ammonia

CSOs, municipal, urban runoff

1. 2008

2. 1998

3. 1998

Bloody BrookEntire, and tribsAquatic toxicityUnknown2010
Entire, and tribsPathogensMunicipal, urban runoff2008
Ley CreekEntire, and tribs

1. pathogens 

2. nutrients (phosphorus)

3. ammonia

4. cyanide

CSOs, municipal, urban runoff

1. 2008

2. 1998

3. 1998

4. 2008

Harbor BrookLower and tribs

1. pathogens

2. nutrients (phosphorus)

3. Ammonia

CSOs, municipal, urban runoff

1. 2008

2. 1998

3. 1998

Nine Mile CreekLower and tribs

1. pathogens

2. nutrients (phosphorus)

Municipal, urban runoff

1. 2008

2. 1998

1Many of the issues of concern are being addressed by the Onondaga Lake remedial efforts.

 

Table 2:   Chronology of published benthic and fish macroinvertebrate studies conducted in the tributaries of Onondaga Lake: 1973-2007.  Sampling years denoted in bold and underlined indicate published fish studies.

Water Body/Tributary:Sampling Year:Stream Segment(s):Collector(s):
Onondaga Creek2010Upper and middleOnondaga County (AMP)*
2008Upper and middleOnondaga County (AMP)
2008EntireNYSDEC (Smith et al., 2010)
2007Entire  (plus West Branch)Onondaga Environmental Institute (OEI)
2006Upper and middleOnondaga County (AMP) 
2004Upper and middleOnondaga County (AMP)
2002Upper and middleOnondaga County (AMP)
2001LowerSmith and Bode (NYSDEC)
2000Upper and middleOnondaga County (AMP)
1999Upper and lowerOnondaga County (AMP)
1998UpperUSGS & NYSDEC (USGS, 1998)1
1995Upper and lowerNYSDEC RIBS*
1993-1994Upper and middleDanehy (1998)
1993Lower and middleUSEPA*
1991Upper and middleDanehy (1994) 
1990Upper and lowerNYSDEC RIBS (Bode et al., 2004)
1989Upper and lowerNYSDEC RIBS
1981UpperNYSDEC RIBS (Simpson, 1982)
Hemlock Creek2007EntireOEI
Furnace Brook2007EntireOEI
Ley Creek2010MainOnondaga County (AMP)
2008MainOnondaga County (AMP)
2008MainNYSDEC (Smith et al., 2010)
2007EntireOEI
2007Lower main Johnson (2009)
2006MainOnondaga County (AMP)
2004Main branchOnondaga County (AMP)
2002Main branchOnondaga County (AMP)
2001Entire NYSDEC RIBS
2000Main branchOnondaga County (AMP)
1999Main branchOnondaga County (AMP)
1995Main branchNYSDEC RIBS (Bode et al., 2004)
1990Main and South branchesNYSDEC RIBS (Bode et al., 2004)
1989Main branchNYSDEC RIBS (Bode et al., 2004)
Beartrap Creek2007EntireOEI
2003EntireCornell University (2004)
Harbor Brook2010LowerOnondaga County (AMP)
2008LowerOnondaga County (AMP)
2008LowerNYSDEC (Smith et al., 2010)
2007Entire OEI
2007LowerJohnson (2009)
2006LowerOnondaga County (AMP)
2004LowerOnondaga County (AMP)
Harbor Brook2002LowerOnondaga County (AMP)
2001LowerNYSDEC RIBS
2000LowerOnondaga County (AMP)
1999LowerOnondaga County (AMP)
1995LowerNYSDEC RIBS (Bode et al., 2004)
1993LowerUSEPA
1989Lower and upperNYSDEC RIBS (Bode et al., 2004)
Nine Mile Creek2008LowerNYSDEC (Smith et al., 2010)
2007EntireOEI
2007LowerJohnson (2009)
2001LowerNYSDEC RIBS (Bode et al., 2004)
1995LowerNYSDEC RIBS (Bode et al., 2004)
1990LowerNYSDEC RIBS (Bode et al., 2004)
1989LowerNYSDEC RIBS (Bode et al., 2004)
1982N/AFinger (1982)
1973Lower and upperNYSDEC – Cooper, et al. 
Geddes Brook2008EntireNYSDEC (Smith et al., 2010)
2001Entire NYSDEC RIBS (Bode et al., 2004)
1989Entire NYSDEC RIBS (Bode et al., 2004)
Bloody Brook2008UpperNYSDEC (Smith et al., 2010)
2007EntireOEI
2007LowerJohnson (2009)
2001Entire Smith and Bode (NYSDEC)
1995Entire NYSDEC RIBS (Bode et al., 2004)
1994Entire NYSDEC RIBS (Bode et al., 2004)
1989Entire NYSDEC RIBS (Bode et al., 2004)
Sawmill Creek2008EntireNYSDEC (Smith et al., 2010)
2007EntireOEI
2007LowerJohnson (2009)
2001Entire NYSDEC RIBS (Bode et al., 2004)
1995Entire NYSDEC RIBS (Bode et al., 2004)
1989Entire NYSDEC RIBS (Bode et al., 2004)

*AMP – Ambient Monitoring Program; NYSDEC RIBS – New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Rotating Intensive Basin Studies; EPA – Environmental Protection Agency.  1Cited as McKenna et al. (1999).