Owasco Lake NAM-18

Riparian Nation(s) USA
Surface Area 27 km2 Mean Depth 29.3 m Volume 0.78 km3
Shoreline Catchment Area 539 km2 Residence Time
Frozen Period Mixing Type Monomictic Morphogenesis/Dam Glacial
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Owasco Lake is one of a group of long and narrow lakes located in western New York State known as the Finger Lakes. The basins of these north-south oriented lakes were formed by the advance of ice masses during the Ice Ages, and further sculpted by glacial meltwater during the interglacial and postglacial periods. The lake possesses the long, narrow and deep proportions characteristic of the Finger Lakes with a length of 17.9 km, mean width of 1.49 km, and a mean depth of 29.3 m.

Although the Finger Lakes region is now well-known for its many vineyards and orchards, it had been densely forested up until the early 1800's when large areas were cleared for agriculture by white settlers. The forests are now in the process of expanding as marginal farmland is abandoned and gradually invaded by trees. Farming is the major land use component of Owasco Lake's 470 km2 drainage basin. Approximately half of the land is actively farmed, one-third is forested and 2% is residential.

The climate of Owasco Lake is characterized by cold, snowy winters and warm, dry summers; and the lake regularly freezes over in the winter. The lake supports a well-developed sport-fishing. Stocking, catch regulation and habitat improvement are the principal management tools in use. Rainbow trout and brown trout are quite abundant in the lake (1).

Photo of Owasco Lake
Photo: C. Rossano