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Challange Grant – Alleviating Impacts of Erosion

SLPWA is looking to take action! After extensive study, and consultations with County Highway Departments (CHD) and Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) within and outside the Seneca Lake watershed, we are looking to demonstrate an affordable strategy to preserve water quality.

After learning from water quality measures taken in particular in Essex and Cayuga Counties, SLPWA wants to offer a challenge grant for any County SWCD or CHD or Town Highway Department (THD) in the Seneca Lake watershed who is looking to install a sediment trap or similar improvement to alleviate the impacts of erosion on Seneca Lake. SLPWA would prefer to support a project that involves a passive approach to a sediment trap, such as a “wet meadow”, which is a constructed low area that becomes a simple wetland and functions as a sediment trap. Ideally, the constructed wet meadow need not ever be cleaned out, but effectively reduces flow down the ditch.

Alternatively, a sediment trap is often a concrete structure that is installed in a roadside ditch where heavy erosion takes place. These traps are designed to catch the sediment that would usually be headed into the lake and can readily be periodically cleaned out. As studies have shown, sediment is one of the main concerns for water quality in the Finger Lakes as it often contains chemical fertilizers, increased nutrient loads, road salts, and other contaminants that can lead to harmful algal blooms and other phenomena not consistent with Lake water quality. These traps are recognized as a best management practice for highway departments, as they allow crews to utilize existing machinery (excavators, and other scraping equipment) to scrape the traps and dispose of the sediment rather than simply scraping ditches and exposing them to significant ongoing erosion.

SLPWA is looking to catalyze some action by offering a challenge grant for SWCD’s, CHD’s or THD’s around the Lake watershed to sponsor a location for at least one sediment trap, wet meadow or similar improvement. SLPWA will provide one or two grants of up to $4,000 each to cover construction and installation costs. This opportunity will be available for any SWCD, CHD or THD within the Lake watershed to sponsor the installation of a sediment trap or wet meadow. Ideally, the selected locations will be in areas where significant roadside ditch erosion can be correlated with impacts on the Lake after storm events.

The challenge grant will be awarded to the SWCD, CHD or THD who can make the best case for achieving a significant impact on the water quality of Seneca Lake. Each grant will support the construction and installation of at least one (1) sediment trap. Projects that leverage matching funds from other sources, such as neighborhood groups, to address significant known erosion issues will be considered more favorably. SLPWA will utilize the following criteria to select the project or projects it will support with this funding:

  1. Leverage of other funding or resources to complete the project
  2. Level of commitment by county, municipality or agency to replicate the project in other similar locations based upon knowledge gained from the demonstration project
  3. Application of a documented best practice for the first time by the county, municipality or agency
  4. Application of a unique best practice for Seneca Lake road ditch erosion reduction

SLPWA aims to partner with the selected SWCD’s, CHD’s and THD’s, as well as NYSDEC’s Finger Lakes Hub, to monitor and evaluate the benefit of each installation and to obtain funding for replication of these improvements by the selected SWCD, CHD or THD, as well as elsewhere within the Lake watershed. Finally, SLPWA will expect that the successful applicant will submit a one-page report describing their project, related spending and its intended benefits post-implementation.