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  • 03/14/2024 9:02 PM | Deanna Fello (Administrator)

    In February, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for public comment concerning a proposed expansion of an existing gravel mining operation adjacent to Watkins Glen State Park. A virtual and in person session were held on February 12th and 13th with written comments due by February 28, 2024.

    The action took local officials and residents by surprise as they were unaware the DEIS was in the works. Obviously, the proposal has caused a lot of concern with local residents and officials.

    Pure Waters had a representative at the virtual meeting. Board member and SNPR lead Ron Klinczar reviewed the DEIS document and drafted comments for the organization. These comments were submitted before the February 28th deadline.  You can read the comments submitted by Ron Klinczar on behalf of Pure Waters HERE.

    Pure Waters is primarily concerned with potential impacts on water quality. Most water quality issues would stem from storm water events, where water either overflows or mixes with ground water. Pure Waters provided a few suggestions (comments) that would mitigate these risks as well as ensure that the pace of operations does not increase over time.

    Pure Waters, along with many others, asked for an extension to the public comment period to provide the public more time to understand the document and provide meaningful input. (The DEC has already announced an extension.)   

    Pure Waters will continue to monitor the situation and provide input strongly encouraging DEC to ensure the operation has no adverse impact on water quality.

  • 05/08/2023 2:00 PM | Kaitlin Fello

    The Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association is partnering once again with the Finger Lakes Institute and SUNY ESF researchers during the National Lake Trout Derby on Seneca Lake this year. The purpose of this collaboration is to conduct a study to better understand the health of the fishery in Seneca Lake. The Lake Trout Derby will begin on Saturday, May 27th at 6:30am and end Monday, May 29th around 12:00pm, with awards starting at 3:00pm at Stivers Marina!

    We need approximately 15 additional volunteers this year to help at weigh-in stations and at the research station to collect fish samples (stomach, flesh, scales). We are asking for volunteers to serve 4 - hour shifts at either Watkins Glen Clute Park or Geneva's Stivers Marina.


    The Finger Lakes Institute, SUNY ESF, Seneca Pure Waters, and the Lake Trout Derby Board thank you for your support in learning more about the health of our lake by volunteering for this effort!

    Please reach out to with any questions.

  • 03/27/2023 1:17 PM | Deanna Fello (Administrator)

    Culverts, Ditches, Retention Ponds, Oh My! Schuyler County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWDC) Completed 33 Projects as Part of Their Multi Barrier Approach to Conservation

    By Hillary Swartwood

    WHEN you drive around Schuyler County, you can’t help but admire the view. With rolling hills of forests and farmland and Seneca Lake majestically at the center, it’s an idyllic drive. What you may not notice are the ditches and culverts along these roads and how important they are in protecting Seneca Lake. With Schuyler County experiencing more frequent and intense rainfall (who can forget the 2018 flash flooding in Hector and Lodi?), many culverts and ditches are unable to handle the additional water because they are too small and outdated. Last year, the Schuyler County’s Soil and Water Conservation District completed 33 projects throughout the county that addressed these concerns. Their efforts provided nearly 6,000 feet of stream stabilization and 5,000 feet of road ditch stabilization, culvert upsizing, and multiple retention ponds. These projects were part of Schuyler County’s multi barrier approach to conservation, which focuses on four key areas:

    • Retention ponds: built to help store rainfall in the upper parts of our watershed to reduce pollution from storm runoff. 
    • Cover crops: planting cover crops helps keep soil from compacting thereby decreasing erosion and pollution from storms. 
    • New culverts: with more frequent and intense storms and increases in impermeable surface, culverts are being replaced with bigger ones to handle the additional water. 
    • Stabilization: when hydro- seeding, flexi- mat, or rock rip rap is utilized in ditches to help reduce erosion and slow water flows from storms. Streams are also stabilized with rock rip rap and by planting buffers to reduce erosion and pollution. 
    The 33 completed projects will keep an estimated 9,334 tons of sediment, 18,000 pounds of nitrogen, and 9,000 pounds of phosphorous from reaching Seneca Lake and other bodies of water in the county. This is good news for Seneca Lake! Nitrogen and phosphorous contribute to Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs) which can limit recreational opportunities like boating and swimming. Culverts, ditches, and retention ponds are often forgotten when we think about protecting Seneca Lake. Thanks to Schuyler County SWCD’s work, they are a major contributor to reducing pollution from storms. So the next time you are driving around Schuyler County give a nod to the unsung heroes – the culverts, ditches, and retention ponds – that help keep Seneca Lake beautiful and healthy. 

  • 03/23/2023 5:53 PM | Deanna Fello (Administrator)

    Bike rack sunset.jpgBy Anne Jardine

    THIS IS A TALE of how it “took a village” to complete needed maintenance on the Lakeshore Landing Seneca Lake residential community’s stormwater management system. Systems to manage stormwater are often vital for preventing pollutants from entering lakes. They can include culverts, stabilized ditches, vegetated swales, and other diversions away from contaminated areas (learn more by visiting The updates to the Lakeshore Landing HOA stormwater system in Romulus, New York stem from when the system was largely put in place 80 years ago with the construction of the Sampson Naval Base in 1942. Approximately 20 cottages along the eastern shore of Seneca Lake were annexed for the base, along with acres of farmland. Some of this farmland became the Lakeshore Landing Residential Community when the base was decommissioned and the land sold for development. While the military owned the land, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created a series of ditches, concrete culverts and drains to manage the stormwater coming into the base on its way downstream to Seneca Lake. This early system supported the building of military barracks and officer quarters for the Navy, Airforce, and eventual Army Depot living quarters in the early ‘70s. The final stormwater management system was put in place in the early 2000s as the second phase of the residential development for the HOA was undertaken. The Lakeshore Landing Community Association, by merit of our Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, is responsible for the maintenance of that stormwater management system. Over the years, many had tried to move the lumpy ball of maintenance forward, but no progress was being made. A small but determined Storm Water Management Committee was formed to get this lumpy ball unstuck, but there were several obstacles to overcome in executing that mandate. There was a lack of clarity in the Declaration as to the major systems for which the HOA had responsibility and the swale drainage for which the homeowner had responsibility. 

    There was also a lack of visibility of the work done by the Army Corp of Engineers in order to assess needs, and the extent to which the abandoned drainage coming into the community (from what is now Sampson State Park) was impacting Lakeshore Landing. Other issues included the natural inclination of “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” Additionally, there was a lack of education and belief in climate change’s future potential to cause flooding if the system was not adequately maintained. It was also seen as just plain hard to spend homeowner association money for what “could” happen. Other than the installation of a new lake outlet pipe in 2013 to correct a flooding problem in the southern section of the community, little had been done to maintain the existing system. Unable to convince the Homeowners Association Board to fund a comprehensive drainage engineering study, three homeowner “believers” took it on themselves to fund a day with Scott Fonte of AES Engineering. He inspected two of the three major drainage systems inside of Lakeshore Landing and provided a professional report, recommending immediate maintenance needs. These included:

    • The redirecting of the water flow and the armoring of an eroding stormwater ditch that had the potential to flood 8 to 10 homes.
    • The digging out of a retention pond and two forebays that had silted up about 3 feet to the emergency runoff pipe, located at the top of the holding basin
    • The clearing of a drainage ditch that had become overgrown with woody vegetation (not valuable to water filtration) and that was in jeopardy of further compromising the 80-year-old concrete culverts. 
    With Fonte giving us his valuable time at the “family discount”, we were able to put some concrete recommendations in front of the HOA Board for their consideration. We also reached out to Erin Peruzzini, the District Manager of the Seneca Lake Soil and Water Conservation, and her technician. Erin had been in and out of the Lakeshore Landing community over the course of more than 12 years, advising numerous Board and Committee members on the stormwater management issues, so was abundantly aware of the needed work. Erin reviewed the engineer’s report, gave us the benefit of her stormwater management wisdom and a list of qualified contractors that could help us with the execution. 

    Bill Roege of Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association connected us with Ian Smith of the Seneca Watershed Intermunicipal Organization (SWIO). Ian was instrumental in prioritizing the maintenance needs so we could rank order our budgeting purposes. He also added his insight into the entire Seneca Lake watershed impacting our area. Finally, we had a comprehensive proposal to show the HOA Board. By this time, the board had new members. So, the new board and the HOA community needed to be educated on the stormwater system issue, its priority, and how the execution of the maintenance work would unfold. We were grateful to have a Board President, Rich Morgan, who had vision and a demonstrated commitment to the Lakeshore Landing community and Seneca Lake. Rich stood strong against the understandable community concerns of cost and construction disruption with the belief that he was leading a decision in the best interests of the community and the lake. Eventually, the project was approved. Planning and communication were everything as the stormwater system work unfolded. These elements were especially important given the manpower and material shortages of the COVID-19 pandemic, and due to several logistical issues. The developer had neglected to get easements for the drainage ditches that crossed or were contained within some 16 private properties. All adjacent owners needed to provide written approval for property access. A scope of work for the three maintenance initiatives was written based on the drainage engineer’s report and given to four contractors for proposals. Some contractors could only quote on one or two of the initiatives, and some quoted on all. It was our great fortune to be able to secure John Dendis, of J.C. Dendis Construction. A first-class operation, John completed the work on time and within budget. Most importantly, John suggested improvements to the project onsite and worked seamlessly around those inevitable issues that come up while underway. John was not the least expensive quote, but he was absolutely the best for this project. When you don’t have expertise in this complex area of water management, it pays to engage the very best resources you can. Dendis, in combination with the Seneca Lake Soil and Water Conservation District, SWIO, and Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association were an awesome team supporting the Lakeshore Landing Community Association.It took a village, a ton of patience, perseverance and the support of the “believers” but the stormwater system was ultimately a success. 

    Before and After Pictures Priority # 1 - Drainage Ditch Culvert Diversion & Armoring

    BEFORE – Culvert pointing into and eroding embankment.

    AFTER – Ditch lined with tech fabric and embankment armored with graduating boulders.

    Priority #2 –Retention Pond and Forebays

    BEFORE – Silting up to 3’ and overgrown vegetation

    AFTER – Cleared and prepped for Seeding

    Priority #3 – Drainage ditch and compromised concrete culverts

    BEFORE - Overgrown with weed trees rooting into concrete culverts.

    AFTER – Weed trees removed, woody vegetation cleared and culverts protected.

  • 03/23/2023 5:16 PM | Deanna Fello (Administrator)

    By Dan Corbett

    HELLO, and thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter and show your caring for Seneca Lake. As the incoming President of the Board late last year, I spent some time with the Pure Waters mission, “Preserve, Protect, and Promote Seneca Lake water quality for ALL who have the privilege of knowing it”. I wanted to be sure the mission aligns with the activities of the organization, and that it meets the real needs of the lake. The first two keywords: Preserve (maintain in its original or existing state) and Protect (keep safe from harm or injury) are closely related, and many of our efforts address them. Our water quality monitoring programs of the lake (CSLAP, HABs, Invasives) and key tributaries (Stream Monitoring) give sound data on the current conditions compared to a multiyear history, and point to areas of concern and need. This information was key to another major effort, the development of the 9 Element Watershed Management Plan. The plan, just completed, is an extensive document of the state of the watershed and the lake, its primary issues, targeted improvement goals, and recommended actions to achieve those goals.

    The recently established Sediment, Nutrient, and Pollution Reduction (SNPR) program is our entry into active improvement projects in the watershed that reduce the flow of pollution into the lake. Our new Fisheries program, partnered with Finger Lakes Institute, is looking at the health of the food chain. Fish sampling can also provide important data on critical contaminants to human health. The last key word, Promote (actively encourage), is critical to bring focus and resources to bear on the issues affecting the lake. Pure Waters is solely focused on the health of Seneca Lake, and uses many forums (newsletters, radio, press releases, social media, email blasts) to communicate and educate concerned citizens and public representatives on relevant issues and opportunities. Our Lake Friendly Living program is all about the education of watershed residents on best practices in managing their properties. We pride ourselves on being data based and expend significant effort to fully understand issues, often linking with partners that possess expertise. So after comparing the mission to the work that Pure Waters is immersed in, I felt good about the strong alignment and progress being made. Is there more that we could be doing? Yes, there are many good ideas and important needs. That’s why we’re regularly asking for interested folks to volunteer their time and/or to donate, so that we can continue to grow and fight the good fight for the health of Seneca Lake. Dan Corbett President Seneca Pure Waters

  • 03/17/2023 4:38 PM | Deanna Fello (Administrator)


    For many years, Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association, the Finger Lakes Institute (FLI) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) have been working together to raise awareness, monitor the lake, and notify the public of harmful cyanobacteria bloom locations on Seneca Lake. 

    Cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae or harmful algal blooms (HABs), are found worldwide, especially in calm, nutrient-rich waters. Unfortunately, some species of cyanobacteria produce toxins that may negatively affect the health of animals and humans thus requiring a public notification or alert system.

    From August to October, volunteers monitor 60 miles of Seneca Lake's shoreline and submit reports via a simple phone app when a bloom is detected. Typically blooms occur on calm days, but specific reasons why a bloom occurs one day and not another day are still a mystery.

    SLPWA is always looking for new volunteers to monitor the lake and coordinate our large volunteer network. We especially need volunteers in the southwest and southeast areas of the lake. Our organization has one person who oversees the entire program. That person works with regional coordinators (the lake is divided into four regions) who in turn communicate and assists the volunteers in each of the four regions.  SLPWA provides training that teaches how to identify and report a bloom. Training only takes an hour or two of your time and is done remotely and/or in person. Reporting is quite simple, take a picture of the bloom and report it via an app on your phone.

    We have developed a highly automated system that receives reports of blooms, recorders all the pertinent data and automatically populates a map with the location of the bloom and photos. People may sign up to receive email and/or text message notifications when blooms occur. The map with all the bloom information can be viewed online.  We also distribute the bloom information to the DEC and provide a weekly bloom watch newsletter to our members throughout the HAB’s season. 

    More detailed information on the program can be found on our website at  

  • 03/17/2023 4:31 PM | Deanna Fello (Administrator)

    Have you ever sat home on a rainy/snowy day and ask yourself, “how much precipitation did we get”? Or how much did my hometown or favorite vacation spot get?  Or how is this rain event going to affect the lake level?

    As you can imagine, precipitation amounts across our watershed vary significantly. The Seneca Lake watershed encompasses 457 square miles, 42 municipalities, and is located within five different counties. Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association would like to track precipitation amounts across the watershed and is seeking volunteers in each of the municipalities to report daily precipitation amounts.

    Volunteers will submit measurements to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow (CoCoRaHS) Network which is a Citizen Science program headquartered at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. CoCoRaHS is a unique community-based network of volunteers working together to measure and report daily precipitation measurements to a central data store via the internet.

    What’s involved?

    CoCoRaHS has a detailed web site ( that has instructions on how to install the gauge as well as how to report.

    “For my station, I obtained a post from Lowes and created a point at the end of the post. I then dug a small hole and drove the post into the ground. Make sure the post is stable and most importantly, level. Ensure your gauge is level no matter where you place it. Remember to put the gauge in a spot that you can easily access every day, without obstruction.” – Wes Wilkert, Seneca Pure Waters Lake Level volunteer

    Volunteers take daily readings before 9:00am and enter the data on the CoCoRaHs website. On this site you can also see other reports from areas across the country. It was interesting to see the reports come in from the Buffalo area this past December.

    If you are interested in this program and would like to learn more, please submit a volunteer form by visiting

  • 01/03/2023 4:19 PM | Deanna Fello (Administrator)

    Written by the Lake Friendly Living Coalition of the Finger Lakes

    Winter is here and so are ice and snow. Central New York (CNY) is no stranger to ice and snow. In fact, many residents consider themselves “pros” in knowing how to drive in the snow, shovel a sidewalk, or clear a driveway before work. We know what we are doing … but do we? Do we know what impact our winter de-icing actions are having on our environment?

     It is estimated that the U.S. uses 15 million tons of de-icing salt per year. We use a lot of salt in CNY to keep our roads and walkways safe, but all that salt ends up somewhere. The salt can eventually seep into the ground or runoff into streams and lakes. It can impact groundwater that supplies drinking water wells, and the salt can enter the water we drink from Skaneateles Lake. Salt can be harmful to aquatic life, plants, and drinking water supplies. Here is a breakdown of salt products and things you should know about them:

    Rock salt (sodium chloride) is the most commonly used salt, but it can contain cyanide (used as an anti-caking agent that can be lethal to aquatic life) and is the most detrimental for plants.

    Calcium chloride is considered a superior choice when compared to rock salt because it does not contain cyanide. However, it can also damage plants. Calcium chloride costs approximately three times more than rock salt, but only one-third as much is needed. Calcium chloride is also effective at temperatures down to -25°F. Other de-icing salts lose effectiveness between 25-0°F.

    Magnesium chloride is considered the least toxic de-icing salt because it contains less chloride than either rock salt or calcium chloride, making it safer for plants and animals.

    Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) is considered the best overall choice for safely melting ice. It is less toxic than deicers containing chloride but can cost substantially more than rock salt.

    All the items listed above can be purchased online or at your local big box or chain hardware store.

    It is important to practice careful restraint with salt application and consider other de-icing methods. There are many ways to keep walkways safe, while also minimizing pollution to our waterways. There are some salt alternatives that can be less damaging to properties and landscaping. These products are considered better for the environment. Sugar Beet Juice is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to de-ice slippery surfaces. The juice from the sugar beets lowers the freezing point of ice and snow. It is completely safe for roads, plants, pets, concrete, and cars. The one downside is that the sugar beet juice, if it enters streams and lakes, can attract bacteria which can use up oxygen in water. Sand and coffee grounds, when applied on top of snow or ice, help absorb sunlight to melt snow and ice. They also provide traction. However, sand is still not a perfect alternative because it can eventually blow or wash into streams or lakes where it can damage aquatic habitat and create unwanted substrate for plant growth. If you use sand, remember to sweep, and collect it as soon as weather conditions permit. Kitty litter is similar to coffee grounds and sand in that it will provide traction on slippery surfaces though it will not melt the snow. These are some alternative products to salt that can have better impacts on our environment. As a consumer, please consider alternative products to use when you plan for an upcoming snowstorm.

    Other tips for snow and ice removal include:

      Look for “pet safe” de-icing products. If a product is pet friendly, it is likely to be eco-friendly

      Apply de-icing products before a winter storm

      Disperse ice melt properly and continue to disperse during a storm.

      Clear as much snow and ice before applying de-icing products. Don’t use salt as a substitute for shoveling

       A mechanical spreader can help achieve proper coverage. The proper coverage rate is about one cup per square yard

    Some properties may be unable to avoid salt that is applied to municipal roads. The salt that is applied can accumulate alongside the road. In the spring, it is important to wash salt spray off plants that are near the road, sidewalk, or driveway and to flush the soil with fresh water. Call your local road maintenance department to find out what type of de-icer they use near your landscape. You can also advocate for your municipality to switch from using salt to more lake friendly de-icing alternatives, like sugar beet juice. Gardeners should research the growing requirements of plants to determine their tolerance to road salt. A few salt-tolerant species include: bearded iris, bee balm, daylilies, garden phlox, rose of sharon, hydrangea, sumac and witch hazel. Cornell Cooperative Extension is a great resource for identifying native plant landscaping suggestions

    Another de-icing product to consider is windshield washer fluid. Washer fluid is essential for dangerous winter driving. However, most washer fluids contain toxic methanol and phosphates that can contribute to harmful algal blooms in our lakes. One spray of windshield washer fluid may not seem like enough to do much damage, but when you think about how many gallons your car uses over the course of the winter months and then consider all of the other cars on the road. The cumulative impacts can be massive. The next time you need to purchase windshield washer fluid, consider buying a lake friendly alternative that does not contain toxic methanol or ammonia. There are concentrated liquids that are as effective and can be less costly than traditional washer fluid products. One lake friendly alternative is the Nextzett Anti-Wash Windshield Washer Fluid.

    We all can do more to protect our precious water quality. If we act together, we can collectively be the solution to winter pollution.

  • 11/12/2022 6:23 PM | Deanna Fello (Administrator)

    Written by Dan Corbett, President of Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association

    The Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) is native to China, was first detected in Pennsylvania in September 2014, and has multiplied voraciously and caused much damage to agriculture and forests. This invasive insect feeds on a wide range of fruit, ornamental and woody trees, with tree-of-heaven being one of the preferred hosts. Spotted lanternflies can be spread long distances by people who move infested material or items containing egg masses. Continued spread of this pest will seriously impact the grape, orchard, and logging industries.

    Spotted Lanternfly lays egg masses of 30-50 eggs wherever it chooses, especially on flat surfaces. All other life stages of this insect, from nymphs to adults can fly, hop, or drop right into or onto vehicles – meaning that vehicles and equipment can easily and quickly help it spread. Therefore, a quarantine over an area found to harbor the Spotted Lanternfly means that any material or object that can spread the pest cannot be moved without taking precautions to prevent that spread. Businesses, truckers, and common carriers moving items from a spotted lanternfly quarantine area must complete a Spotted Lanternfly training and obtain a permit. We should all take precautions.

    Spotted Lanternfly is continuing to spread in New York State. The downstate areas have seen heavy populations in the last couple years, and SLF has continued to spread in our region. Additional populations have been found this year in Tompkins County, in Syracuse, and in Buffalo. It is likely that populations will continue to emerge in and around large metro areas like Binghamton, Syracuse, Ithaca, and Rochester. SLF does not fly long distances, but it is a hitchhiker. Starting in the fall, SLF seek out outdoor surfaces and lay mud-like egg masses on tree bark, outdoor gear (such as lawnmowers, bikes, and grills), methods of transport, and more. Spotted lanternfly egg masses are about an inch long and resemble a smear of mud. If found in an area known to have an SLF population, residents should crush them and scrape them off. Travelers passing through SLF quarantine areas should thoroughly check their vehicles, trailers, and even the clothes they are wearing to avoid accidently moving the spotted lanternfly from a quarantine area to somewhere new.

    Seneca Lake Pure Waters volunteers are working with the Finger Lakes Institute PRISM program to monitor our region for any emerging populations. We will continue to monitor our traps throughout September, October, and into the first frosts of November. The fall is the most important time of year to be monitoring traps, as adults are highly active. The adult stage of SLF is where transport and population spread are most likely to occur. This is also the time of year where adults are mating. Keep an eye out for SLF egg masses.

    If you find this pest outside of a spotted lanternfly quarantine area, please take a picture of it and note the location to report it to your State Department of Agriculture before killing it. When preparing for the winter holidays, check outdoor items for spotted lanternfly egg masses, including those items you may bring indoors. Scrape any egg masses into a plastic zippered bag filled with hand sanitizer, then zip the bag shut and dispose of it properly.

    What you can do:

    • Learn how to identify SLF.
    • Inspect outdoor items such as firewood, vehicles, and furniture for egg masses.
    • ·        Inspect your trees and plants for signs of this pest, particularly at dusk and at night when the insects tend to gather in large groups on the trunks or stems of plants.
    • If you visit other states with SLF, be sure to check all equipment and gear before leaving. Scrape off any egg masses.
    • Destroy egg masses by scraping them into a bucket of hot, soapy water or a baggie/jar of hand sanitizer
    • Report any sightings if you find spotted lanternflies outside of quarantine areas- Take pictures of the insect, egg masses and/or infestation signs as described above (include something for scale such as a coin or ruler) and email to

  • 11/11/2022 5:21 PM | Deanna Fello (Administrator)

    “No one person can address the issue; rain falls everywhere.”

    -Ian Smith, Seneca Watershed Steward

    SENECA-KEUKA LAKES — After nearly four years of study, analysis, and preparation, the Seneca-Keuka Lake Watershed 9 Element Plan is now in the hands of New York State officials at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Department of State. The plan should be fully approved and available for local use during the upcoming New York State grant application process as local organizations seek funds for projects to improve water quality in the lakes. 9E Plans are among the approaches endorsed by the New York State DEC for Clean Water Planning across the state.

    The plan was presented to the public during the 10th Annual Land Use Leadership Alliance training in Penn Yan on April 25. Find the plan and a recording of the presentation at

    The objective of the 9E Plan is to identify specific actions to reduce phosphorus loading to the lakes and minimize the risk of cyanobacterial blooms, also known as harmful algal blooms (HABs), and other threats to the watershed. Phosphorus and other nutrients are essential for plant and animal growth and nourishment, but excessive amounts in water have been linked to problematic blooms. Phosphorus, which is commonly found in fertilizers, manure, and organic wastes in sewage and industrial effluent, can negatively impact water quality. Soil erosion is also a major contributor of phosphorus, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

    A Soil & Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) is used to simulate the quality and quantity of surface and ground water, and to predict the impact of land use, land management, and climate change. Baseline SWAT model projections indicate that the highest phosphorus load per acre appears to be generated in subwatersheds where cultivated crops are the primary land use.

    The over-arching goal of the 9E Plan is to preserve and improve water quality while also fostering progress toward achieving the community’s vision for the future of the Seneca-Keuka watershed, where more than half of the water in the 11 Finger Lakes is held. Efforts to achieve that goal will include consideration of the cultural, social, and economic factors of the region.

    Ian Smith, Seneca Watershed Steward, distills the goal, saying the efforts will be focused on “making the landscape more of a sponge” by managing the flow of water within the watershed. He says the plan is not one that should just be put on a shelf and forgotten. “It’s a living document” he stresses, adding that while it is not a regulatory document, there are actions within the plan that might incorporate compliance and/or enforcement measures, such as those associated with local zoning regulations.

    While some of the highest priority projects will likely focus on hydrologic resilience and best management of cultivated cropland, there is a wide variety of potential projects applicable to various land use areas. Smith notes, “No one person can address the issue; rain falls everywhere.”

    Strategies to reduce non-point source pollution are organized in six categories:

    Hydrologic Resilience: with the highest priorities identified as increasing storm flow resilience of streams; using green infrastructure to intercept stormwater; and conservation of high value natural resources such as steep slope forests, floodplains, and wetlands.

    Best Management Practices (BMPs) on Working Landscapes: with the highest priorities identified as acquisition, easements, and/or preservation of lands between agriculture or timberland and wetlands or waterbodies; increase participation in agricultural environmental management; and the use of BMP’s such as planting cover crops on lands prone to erosion and nutrient runoff.

    Wastewater Management: with the highest priority of increasing the capacity and efficiency of wastewater treatment plants.

    Invasive Species Management: with the highest priorities identified as supporting/expanding the boat launch stewards program; installation of informational kiosks at boat launches; and invasive species outreach and educational initiatives.

    Local Laws: with the highest priorities identified as adopting open space conservation rules to preserve forests, wetlands, and other high value resources; and development of universal minimum sanitary standards.

    Education, Outreach, Economic Development: with the highest priorities identified as engaging watershed stakeholders in water quality protection activities; development of education and outreach programs; and distribution of educational material on water quality.


    The Seneca-Keuka Watershed spans 712 square miles and stretches from the Town of Italy in western Yates County to the Town of Hector in eastern Schuyler County; from the Town of Horseheads in Chemung County to the Town of Geneva in Ontario County; and from the Town of Fayette in Seneca County to the Town of Urbana in Steuben County. Seneca and Keuka Lakes contain more than 50 percent of the water of the 11 Finger Lakes and they are joined by a natural waterway, the Keuka Outlet, historically known as Minnesetah River.

    The projectis sponsored with funding provided by the New York State Department of State under Title 11 of the Environmental ProtectionFund. Additional funding is provided by Seneca Watershed Intermunicipal Organization, Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association, Keuka Watershed Improvement Cooperative, Keuka Lake Association, The Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Seneca County, Schuyler County, Ontario County, Yates County, Steuben County, and Corning Inc.

    The Seneca-Keuka Watershed Partnership Executive Committee includes Mark Venuti (Seneca Watershed Intermunicipal Organization), Dan Corbett (Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association), Steve Butchko (Keuka Watershed Improvement Cooperative), and Mark Morris (Keuka Lake Association) with Advisors Lisa Cleckner (Finger Lakes Institute), Ian Smith (Seneca Lake Watershed Steward), Colby Petersen (Keuka Watershed Manager) and Administrator Betsy Landre (Ontario County Planning Dept.) For more information about the Seneca-Keuka Watershed Partnership contact Ian Smith at 315-781-4559 or, or Colby Petersen at 315-536-5188 or

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Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association

P.O. Box 247

Geneva, NY 14456


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