Improving Water Quality Through Erosion and Stormwater Education
Syracuse Urban Area, NY

Grantee: Central New York Regional Planning & Development Board
Basin Program Funds: $20,225
Non-federal Funds: $10,633
Project Duration: 07/2003 - 07/2004
Status: complete

Problem Statement
Water quality in the three-county Syracuse Urban Area (UA) is impaired through sedimentation and associated nonpoint source (NPS) pollutants. The extensive and highly concentrated development in the Syracuse UA is responsible for the high volume and velocity of stormwater runoff that is eroding soil along riparian corridors and transporting sediment and other urban NPS pollutants into lakes, rivers and streams. As a result, there has been a decrease in aquatic habitat and a general reduction in overall water quality in this area of the Great Lakes Basin.

The Syracuse UA consists of 30 cities, towns and villages in three counties. Residential, commercial and industrial development has been recognized as having a detrimental effect on the riparian environment and overall water quality by replacing native ground cover with impervious surfaces thereby increasing stormwater runoff, soil erosion and sedimentation and non-point source pollutant loads. There are 22 waterbody segments located within the Syracuse UA that are listed on the NYS Priority Waterbodies List (PWL) and two segments listed on the 303(d) list. Fourteen of the listed segments are listed due to impairments resulting from urban runoff and/or sediment. Given the extensive geographic area impacted by urban development in the UA, development of a regionally coordinated, inter-municipal program for addressing stormwater runoff issues holds the greatest probability of attaining water quality improvement.

The activities in this project covered three major areas. First, the Central New Your Regional Planning and Development Board (CNY RPDB) (the Board) developed a series of feature articles and press releases for local news papers which will also be posted on the CNY RPDB web site. The articles discussed NPS water quality impairments associated with development and how stormwater runoff exacerbates the processes of erosion and sedimentation; report on the public workshops (described in Task 2); and highlight various restoration and improvement projects and tie into developing local State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) Phase II programs. The second task area involved working with local and state partners to secure appropriate locations, plan, publicize and hold two public workshops (one in the northern portion and one in the southern portion of the UA). The third task area developed a training workshop for municipal employees by working with local and state partners to plan, publicize and hold a full-day training workshop for 90 municipal employees from the 30 municipalities in the Syracuse UA in February 2004.

The Board drafted and submitted three feature length articles for publication in regional and local newspapers. The articles focused on water quality issues strongly associated with stormwater, erosion and sedimentation. All feature articles were made available for use in local municipal newsletters and were published on the Board’s stormwater website that averages approximately 875 user sessions each month. Articles were published in one regional and five local newspapers with an approximate regional distribution area of 145,000 households and businesses. The Board also drafted shorter informational articles incorporating erosion and sedimentation education. These articles were published or served as the basis for new article in local newspapers.

The Board planned, publicized and successfully held two public work shops, the first in September, 2003 and the second in March, 2004. The purpose of the workshops were to: educate attendees about water quality and quantity issues associated with stormwater, including soil erosion and sedimentation; educate citizens about how their community is addressing stormwater pollution, particularly in light of the new Phase II Stormwater Regulation; provide tips on how individual citizens can help improve water quality through their daily activities; and foster discussion about how the community can get involved with existing programs.

The Board planned, publicized and held a pollution prevention training workshop that was focused primarily on erosion and sedimentation control in municipal operations. The full day workshop was held on March 30, 2004 at the Genesee Inn, Syracuse New York. The purpose of the workshop was to educate municipal employees about everyday actions that they should be incorporated into normal operational procedures to improve and protect water quality. The workshop was conducted in conjunction with, and as part of the Board’s stormwater assistance program. Local governments from four counties were represented.

Contact: Ms. Pamela O’Malley, (315) 422-8276


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