OCWA hires watershed inspectors every summer to work out of the Otisco water treatment plant and conduct a watershed survey to all the properties around Otisco Lake. This survey is required by the Onondaga County Health Department. This watershed inspection and monitoring program assists in maintaining the water quality of Otisco Lake.

The watershed inspectors go door to door asking a series of six questions. These questions include:

  1. Where do you get your water from?
  2. How many people live at the property?
  3. Do you have any domestic pets?
  4. Do you know when your septic tank was last pumped?
  5. Do you use any pesticides or fertilizers on the lawn?
  6. Do you have any bulk petroleum products stored on the property?

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the watershed inspectors have started contactless surveys as well, meaning you can complete your survey in three different ways: in-person, online, or over the phone. After a survey is complete it is then updated to OCWA’s GIS system and survey answers are kept on record.

Watershed inspectors also perform a dye test on lake front properties every three years. A dye test is a test to see if the septic system is leaking or working improperly. It is a simple test the property owner just removes the plastic packaging from the dye strip and flushes the strip down the toilet. The following two days, the inspectors check the lawn for neon yellow dye which would indicate a leak. If the property isn’t in need of a dye test or isn’t lake front, a regular inspection will be conducted.

The goal by the end of each summer would be to complete surveys for roughly 1,393 properties or about 80% of all properties in the watershed. As well as dye test and inspect as many properties as possible.

This survey can be found on the OCWA website: Otisco Lake Watershed Survey – OCWA