Stormwater Phase II Initiative in the Seneca and Keuka Lake Watersheds
Seneca and Yates County, NY

Grantee: Yates County Soil and Water Conservation District
Basin Program Funds: $17,000
Non-federal Funds: $19,499
Project Duration: 07/2001 - 11/2002
Status: complete

Problem Statement
Keuka and Seneca Lake watershed projects have needed to prioritize storm water management for soil erosion and sediment control. A comprehensive watershed management plan needed to be developed and adopted for the Keuka Lake watershed, outlining 100 actions to improve or maintain water quality. An implementing committee prioritized the actions and identified storm water management for erosion control as a top priority.

The Seneca and Keuka Lake watersheds are addressing potential impacts to water quality through a consistent watershed management process and the development of sound action strategies to preserve water quality through an understanding of the current health of these significant natural resources. Keuka Lake watershed initiatives stem from the completion of a comprehensive management plan, while work in the Seneca Lake watershed is premised on the completion of a watershed analysis and progression toward a management plan. Both watersheds have active participation and endorsement from a combined 46 municipalities.

Effective storm water initiatives would require collaboration with municipal governments to develop uniform standards or ordinances, and initiate an ongoing educational process to address this pollution source. Each watershed proposes to work collaboratively to initiate the pending storm water Phase II regulations by utilizing existing linkages to municipal governments to streamline the education and capacity building process to enforce Phase II.

Develop an information packet to provide uniform education materials to the public on storm water considerations for new construction projects that cover all municipalities in the watershed. Develop an education packet on the impacts of storm water on the watershed, permitting process and inspection guidelines for municipal officials. Develop a packet for contractors and developers. Provide a mechanism to inform citizens about storm water impacts on water quality in the Seneca and Keuka lake watersheds while continuing to build citizen-based support for the ongoing watershed management process. Embody a watershed perspective through the project and promote partnerships, alliances and creative collaboration.

Three workshops held on Phase II storm water management for the Keuka and Seneca Lake watersheds were attended by a total of 80 people. The workshops facilitated critical dialogue with stakeholders on issues and concerns regarding implementing New York State Phase II Stormwater Regulations.

The following groups received educational packet mailings and distributions:

  • Municipal government representatives and personnel (code enforcement officers, highway departments) in Keuka and Seneca Lake Watersheds (430 individuals)
  • All lake association members in the Keuka and Seneca Lake Watersheds (2000 homes)
  • All code enforcement officers and highway departments in the Keuka and Seneca Lake watersheds, as well as all workshop participants, received a copy of the New York State Stormwater Management Design Manual (125 manuals)
  • Developers/contractors from both watersheds received mailing (300 mailings)
  • Workshop participants who requested copies of power point programs from workshops (20 copies)
  • Materials distributed to N.Y. State Dept. of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and representatives of N.Y. State Soil and Water Conservation Councils (50 copies)

On June 20, 2002, a meeting was hosted by Keuka and Seneca Lake Watershed Stormwater Project Partners for representatives of Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca and Cayuga lakes; New York State Office of Canals; U.S. Geological Survey; and Finger Lakes-Lake Ontario Watershed Protection Alliance. The purpose of the meeting was to address lake level management challenges of these four lakes that stem from topographic restrictions and storm water impacts resulting from high rainfall volumes in early spring 2002. The meeting initiated a joint public approach to this issue in the four watersheds and established an ongoing commitment to continue this collaboration in the future. Thirty individuals attended. The group was also invited to observe gate inspections on the Keuka Outlet (inflow to Seneca Lake) conducted by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and NYS DEC.

Planning for project deliverables and ongoing priorities for Phase II stormwater management connected to this grant established collaboration between: NYSDEC, Region 8; soil and water conservation districts in the Keuka and Seneca Lake watersheds (Chemung, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, and Yates); lake associations for Keuka and Seneca lakes; and other watershed management agencies from both watersheds, such as Cornell Cooperative Extension, planning departments and the Sullivan Trail Resource Conservation and Development Council. Partners served as the project committee as outlined in the project proposal narrative under coordination of designated project personnel. Partners attended a two-day Stormwater Management Conference in Rochester, N.Y. on June 18-19, 2001 sponsored by NYSDEC. Project committee meetings were held on Nov. 6, 2001 and Dec. 19, 2001 to plan program agendas and publication selection for outlined project deliverables. Follow-up meetings and communication took place in March-April 2002 to finalize details of project deliverables. This working group will continue to serve as a key resource for ongoing technical assistance to municipal governments, engineers, contractors and developers, and citizen stakeholders related to Phase II Stormwater Management Regulations implementation.

The challenges to implementing outlined deliverables for this project stemmed from the NYSDEC’s ongoing development of its Phase II Stormwater Management Program and aspects of that program that were not clearly defined until late spring of 2002. This made it necessary to schedule most project deliverables near the end of the project period in order to effectively deliver educational project goals.

The primary outcome of this project was the establishment of ongoing communication and technical assistance between project partners and watershed stakeholders. Primary objectives are to maintain communication, provide technical assistance, develop resource contacts, produce informational mailings and provide assistance with funding incentives for municipal governments. These will aid with the successful implementation of Phase II stormwater management by March 2003. Both watersheds have prioritized continued activities in management beyond the project period.

Contact: Lester Travis, 315-536-5188


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