Natural Stream Restoration in the Seneca Lake Watershed
Schuyler County, NY

Grantee: Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation District
Basin Program Funds: $19,676
Non-federal Funds: $14,929
Project Duration: 07/2001 - 10/2002
Status: Complete

Problem Statement
Streambank erosion is a primary source of sediment loading in Seneca Lake according to the 1999 publication, Setting a Course for Seneca Lake.

Background
The Schuyler County Water Quality Strategy and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Priority Waterbody List indicates that stream bank erosion in the tributaries of Seneca Lake is a major contributor of sediments to the lake. The Glen Creek watershed is approximately 14,500 acres in size and is a subwatershed of the Catharine Creek watershed the largest subwatershed of Seneca Lake. The Catharine Creek watershed lies at the southern end of Seneca Lake. Glen Creek flows east through Watkins Glen, joining Catharine Creek to flow into Seneca Lake. Dams were built in the upper area of the Glen Creek gorge and watershed in the 1940s and 1950s for flood protection after a devastating flood in 1935. The ponds and lakes behind the dams are filling with sediment due to streambank erosion and stream head-cutting. Unstable streambanks already exist along Glen Creek, some caused by natural forces and others by human impacts. Increased development will result in more rapid runoff that will destabilize the stream further, increasing the sediment load in the stream.

Activities
Collect reference reach data, including bankfull width, mean depth, channel cross section, width of flood-prone area, channel materials and channel sinuosity. Use research reach data to do further analysis of the Glen Creek watershed. Use willow wattles, stream barbs and/or weirs to stabilize a section of Glen Creek. Design remediation techniques based on fluvial geomorphic techniques, with the work done by soil and water conservation district (SWCD) project personnel.

Results
Two cross vanes, one J-hook and six rootwads were installed to control erosion and headcutting. The project stabilized approximately 39 feet of eroding streambank. The total length of the stream project was 350 feet. After construction, disturbed areas and the streambanks were seeded, mulched and planted with willows to protect against further erosion. A total of one acre was seeded and one-half acre mulched. Cross vanes and J-hooks are intended to control the direction of stream flow away from eroding banks. Root wads helped protect the streambank, create aquatic habitat and slow the velocity of the stream flow. A demonstration workshop was held after the completion of the project to showcase the accomplishments. A technical report describing the methods of data collection as well as the demonstration project itself was written.

Contact: Elaine Dalrymple, 607-535-9650

 

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