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  • 02/27/2019 12:00 PM | Seneca Lake

    GENEVA – Senator Pam Helming today announced that the Finger Lakes region’s fight to block a proposed garbage incinerator project from moving forward at the former Seneca Army Depot in the Town of Romulus continues. Her bill to prevent Circular EnerG from obtaining a permit to build an incinerator that would require the daily delivery of more than 2,500 tons of trash to operate has advanced through the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee. It will now go before the Senate for a vote.

    “The fight to stop this misguided proposal that would devastate the surrounding communities continues. This is a moment of celebration for the entire Finger Lakes region and all those who believe in clean water, clean air, and a high quality of life for our children and families. Ever since this project first came before the Romulus Planning Board, I have worked with local residents, environmental advocates, and business owners to craft this legislation and gain support for it. We brought together many diverse groups, including statewide business organizations and environmental advocacy groups, who are typically on opposite sides of the table to make sure that this project never happens and never has a chance of happening. The Finger Lakes Community Preservation Act, as the legislation is known, supports residents and business owners who are fearful of the impact this project would have on public health, the environment, their businesses, and the value of their property. Most importantly, it protects the children of Romulus who would have been forced to go to school next to a smokestack releasing who knows what. Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, this is not a political issue. We need to continue putting the people first, not politics.  Thank you to Senator May, Senator O'Mara, and Assemblyman Palmesano for their partnership on this important legislation and to my colleagues on the Energy and Telecommunications Committee for working to advance this legislation,” Senator Helming said.

    This legislation (S.2270/A.5029) prohibits the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) and others from issuing a waste-to-energy permit for a proposed trash incinerator if it meets the following conditions:

    • The facility is within the Oswego River/Finger Lakes watershed;
    • There is at least one landfill or other solid waste management facility permitted by the Department of Environmental Conservation and operating or located within a 50-mile radius of the proposed incineration facility;
    • The proposed facility is within 10 miles of a priority waterbody as designated by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

    Opponents of the project note that the incinerator would produce toxic ash from burning a range of solid wastes that can vary widely in chemical output, making compliance with emissions and toxic waste limits difficult. Siting a trash incinerator in the Finger Lakes region, with the associated impacts of air and ash pollution, will damage local tourism as well as the booming wine and agricultural industries. The Assembly bill is sponsored by Assemblyman Michael Cusick and has been referred to the Assembly Energy Committee.

    Finger Lakes Wine Business Coalition Secretary William Ouweleen, also Vintner of O-Neh-Da and Eagle Crest Vineyards, said, “The Finger Lakes wine and agritourism industry is grateful that Senators Helming and May, along with Assembly Members Cusick and Palmesano, have come to the aid and rescue of the people of the Finger Lakes, through the introduction of a bipartisan bill that will prohibit garbage incineration projects in the Finger Lakes watershed. This legislation will serve to protect the economic interests of the Finger Lakes and preserve the Finger Lakes brand, which is becoming world-renowned for fine wine, food, and ecotourism.”

    New York Wine Industry Association member Carol Doolittle, also co-owner of Frontenac Point Vineyard, said, “All winery owners and employees in the Finger Lakes region thank Senator Helming for successfully working to protect our environment and the tourism livelihood of thousands of small businesses. We are happy that she is collaborating with other legislators to achieve this goal and always look forward to working with her. The focus should be on reducing waste, not sending it to rural New York, where it will negatively impact residents as well as people who travel here to enjoy the beauty of the land. Landfills and incinerators are not beautiful. If they were, the waste would be disposed of where it is generated.”

    Seneca Lake Guardian President Joseph Campbell said, “We remain indebted to Senator Helming for her dedication to getting this vital bill passed, and we are grateful to Senator Rachel May for her sponsorship of the bill. The proposed garbage-burning facility in the heart of the Finger Lakes has bipartisan, widespread opposition, and this bill should have been passed during last year’s legislative session. We urge Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins to do everything in their power to ensure swift passage of this bill and for Governor Cuomo to sign it into law as soon as it reaches his desk. The families and businesses of the Finger Lakes have fought long enough and deserve to have this issue settled once and for all.”

  • 02/01/2019 12:00 PM | Seneca Lake

    Finger Lakes Times
    By DAVID L. SHAW 

    GENEVA — Planting trees is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to improve water quality, according to the Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association.
    In fact, SLPWA is urging property owners near Seneca Lake and its tributaries to plant trees. “Compared to the cost of building drains for storm water or repairing flood damage with concrete and steel, trees are a bargain,” said Rich Weakland, SLPWA president. The organization issued a statement Thursday on the ways trees help protect Seneca Lake. They include:

    INTERCEPTION: During rainstorms, tree canopies are the first line of defense. Leaves and branches intercept the falling rain, dispersing it at a slower rate over a large area, encouraging more absorption by the ground.

    FILTRATION: Trees help to filter road salt, fertilizers and pesticides out of water. Some chemicals are taken up by the trees themselves while others are taken up by fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms that exist in forest soils.

    INFILTRATION: Decomposing materials from trees and plants collect on the ground and form an absorptive layer that acts as a sponge that soaks up water. A tree’s root system helps to break up compacted soil, opening up spaces for water to soak into the soil.

    STABILIZATION: Tree roots help give the soil structure, preventing erosion. Organic matter from leaves and microorganisms living in the soil help hold soil together, acting like glue to bind soil particles together.

    HABITAT: Trees growing along the lake’s shoreline or along the banks of a stream or creek support aquatic life. Leaves and seeds provide food for insects that, in turn, are eaten by fish and other large animals. Roots, falling logs and branches provide food, shade and hiding places in the water. Trees also shade the water, keeping it cool for species that are sensitive to temperature and keeping down the growth of algae and weeds that can clog waterways.

    Weakland said the Ontario, Seneca and Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation Districts will sell seedlings this spring. People can pre-order by Friday, March 8, and receive the trees for planting in May. Those district offices can be contacted for details.

    For more information, call (585)396-1450 in Ontario County, (315)568-4366 ext. 4 in Seneca County, and (607)535-0878 in Schuyler County.

    SLPWA’s membership cycle begins June 1 and ends May 3, 2020. Weakland says anyone interested in the protection and preservation of Seneca Lake can help by joining the organization. People can join by visiting senecalake.org. The cost is $10 for students, $30 for households and $50 for businesses.

    Checks can also be mailed to SLPWA, P.O. Box 247, Geneva, 14456.
  • 01/06/2019 12:00 PM | Seneca Lake

    The Chronicle-Express - By John Christensen
    Posted Jan 6, 2019 at 12:01 AM

    The Seneca Watershed Intermunicipal Organization (SWIO) is conducting a search for the new watchdog/advocate to protect Seneca Lake as a clean source of water. According to Mark Venuti, chair of SWIO, State Sen. Pam Helming got $110 million in Clean Water funds tucked in the state budget, and $200,000 of that is earmarked for the Town of Geneva to hire the Seneca Watershed Steward, and to fund program efforts.

    The SWIO Steward is a full-time, benefits-eligible, administrative salaried position for $59,000 per year. Venuti says Hobart & William Smith Colleges will manage payroll and the Finger Lakes Institute (FLI) will provide office space. Venuti says this arrangement of support relieves SWIO of the burden of administration and paying for office space.

    Venuti says he expects the steward will report day-to-day to Dr. Lisa Cleckner, Director of the FLI, and to the SWIO governance group as an executive committee. SWIO hopes to fill the position by the end of January, and already has six applicants for the post.

    According to the request for applications, the Seneca Watershed Steward will work on behalf of SWIO to “identify and implement projects in the watershed and lake to improve the water quality of Seneca Lake. The watershed steward will be the “on the ground” Seneca Lake expert and work with a number of different stakeholder groups, including the Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association, county governments, water purveyors, business and tourism entities, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, agricultural producers, academic institutions, Keuka Lake (part of the Seneca Lake watershed) organizations, and citizens to ensure that the lake remains a Class AA drinking water source. An annual work plan for this position will be developed in consultation with a small governance group (five members) from intermunicipal groups of Seneca and Keuka Lakes, watershed associations of Seneca and Keuka Lakes, and the Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.”

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