Written by Kaitlin Fello
The Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association has once again chosen four watershed projects for funding through the Sediment, Nutrient, and Pollution Reduction program. The four projects were proposed by Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) throughout the Seneca Lake watershed late last year and are scheduled for implementation in Spring, Summer, and Fall of 2023.
The Ontario County SWCD will be working with two local landowners to design, install and maintain structural erosion control best management practices (BMPs) such as water and sediment control basins, water control structures and wetland enhancement. The projects would focus on upland water retention to reduce concentrated flows on private lands, benefiting downstream properties; the BMPs will control volume of stormwater while reducing erosion and ultimately improve water quality in Seneca Lake. The area around Armstrong Road in the Town of Geneva has experienced issues with stormwater and flooding along NYS St Rt 14.
Changes in land use practices, along with development upslope without adequate stormwater controls, have led to an increase in flooding in the area and larger volumes of water are increasing erosion. Concerns from residents and protection of public infrastructure have led this to be a priority project area for the Town of Geneva. Providing retention of stormwater will reduce flooding which in turn will limit sediment, nutrient and pollutant loading to Seneca Lake. Seneca Pure Waters’ SNPR program will fund $10,000 to this project.
The Schuyler County SWCD has been selected for two projects in the coming seasons, both working to limit erosion on bare soils, and include hydroseeding near roadways and ditches, and using cover crops on farmland within the Seneca Lake watershed. Over 200 acres of cover crops will be planted in the watershed, and over 40 acres of hydroseeding, including 10 miles of roadside ditches.
The two projects expect completion before October 2023, and will together reduce over 700 tons of sediment from entering Seneca Lake. Seneca Pure Waters has committed to funding $10,000 for each project in the Schuyler County, Seneca Lake watershed.
The Seneca County SWCD have been awarded $10,000 for their Sediment and Nutrient Reduction project, scheduled for this summer. The project will collaboratively install two water and sediment control basins (WaSCoBs) within a cash crop field, along with underground outlet pipes that will convey excess basin water to a nearby ditch downstream. The WaSCoBs capture stormwater and allow sediment to settle out, while the underground outlet conveys water, limits overland flow and erosion and the carrying of excess nutrients to Seneca Lake. This project is expected to save approximately 100lbs of nitrogen, 45 tons of sediment, and 45lbs phosphorus annually from entering Seneca Lake.
The Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association has now seen three projects completed with funding from the Sediment, Nutrient, and Pollution Reduction program (SNPR). The SNPR program was founded in 2021 with an objective to drive more watershed improvement projects that protect Seneca Lake water quality. That objective has quickly turned to reality, with the impacts of funding from the program being realized around the watershed.
Four Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) projects were selected for funding through the SNPR program in early 2022, three of which were completed before the year’s end. The Schuyler County SWCD was chosen for two separate projects in the first round of the program’s funding, and both projects focused on agricultural land improvements.
Over 700 acres of farmland was planted with cover crops throughout Schuyler County, and expenses were shared, with Pure Waters covering $10,000 of the $40,000 in seed cost. The SWCD high boy inter-seeder was used, which allows for an expanded window of time in which cover crops can be successfully planted.
“Cover crops improve soil health, increase organic matter, increase permeability to reduce flooding impacts, decrease erosion, and decrease the need for commercial fertilizers. Cover crops are one of the most cost-effective conservation practices we have in our toolbox”, said Jerry Verrigni, Schuyler County SWCD Manager.
More than 500 tons of soil in the Seneca Lake watershed will be protected thanks to the work of the Schuyler County SWCD staff.
The second Schuyler County SWCD project completed in 2022 with funding from the SNPR program was an installation of a retention pond as part of a much bigger project.
In addition to the retention pond installation, the SWCD re-graded over 825 feet of grassed waterway, installed three culvert crossings, installed over 14,000 feet of fencing, and established over seven acres of riparian buffer on a beef farm in Hector.
Seneca Pure Waters shared the cost of the retention pond for this major project, providing $10,000 in funding. Retention ponds aid in the reduction of peak flow during high intensity, short duration storm events. This retention pond stores a minimum of 250,000 gallons of stormwater during peak flow, slowing water and reducing soil erosion on farmland.
The Seneca County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) has completed its first project with funding from the Seneca Pure Waters’ Sediment, Nutrient, and Pollution Reduction (SNPR) program.
The SNPR program set out in 2021 to swiftly and positively impact the water quality of Seneca Lake and has done just that. The first project which received SNPR funding was completed just five months after the SNPR grant proposal was received by Seneca Pure Waters. The work site was proposed on a well-known vineyard bordering Seneca Lake – Boundary Breaks, in Lodi.
The project focused on a problematic area of the property which was planned for vineyard expansion. The new vineyard site presented extensive erosion issues, and the Seneca County SWCD proposed water and sediment control basins (WASCoBs) upland of the new vineyard site. These WASCoBs are designed to control flow during heavy precipitation events, and store and slowly release water through underground outlets. Once installed, they can eliminate erosion issues while at the same time mitigate flood risk to downslope communities, in this case, Lodi homeowners.
The Town of Lodi sits on some of the steepest slopes around Seneca Lake, and in 2018 the Governor declared a state of emergency for more than 12 counties after devastating flash flooding, the Town of Lodi being hit the hardest. The Lodi community continues to seek opportunities to protect landowners and become more resilient to flooding and the impacts of climate change in the Finger Lakes. The Boundary Breaks Vineyard project is one example of protecting business owners, downslope landowners, and Seneca Lake water quality by keeping sediment in place and slowing water down. The project demonstrates the exact purpose of the Seneca Pure Waters’ SNPR program.
A collaboration of funding partners made this project possible, including Seneca County Soil and Water Conservation District, Boundary Break Vineyards, Finger Lakes Lake Ontario Watershed Protection Alliance, and the Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association. Seneca Pure Waters funded $9,750 of the total $36,939 project cost aimed to improve the water quality of Seneca Lake.
Now that the project is installed and capturing floodwater from nine acres, we can expect to see a reduction of eight tons of sediment entering the lake per acre annually.
In 2017 the DEC ordered Greenidge Generation to complete a thermal study showing what affect its warm water discharge would have on the environment. After five years of waiting, Greenidge provided its completed study to the DEC in 2022. It was then distributed to the public this past October.
In short, the thermal study reveals several instances where Greenidge Generation operates well outside of thermal pollution standards, including a discharge exceeding 70°F into a designated trout stream from May to October and increasing the Keuka Outlet water temperature by more than 2°F in the months from June – September. Greenidge also exceeded a lake surface warming standard by heating possibly up to 227.5 acres over 3 degrees F.
The Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association recently submitted a letter to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation in response to the Thermal Study. The letter highlights Greenidge Generation’s operational methods which continue to exceed thermal pollution standards, threatening zooplankton, aquatic vegetation, macro invertebrates and fish. Under these circumstances, it is the position of the Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association that a comprehensive scientific impact study be required of Greenidge as part of DEC permitting and in order to determine the effects of ongoing thermal discharge on local aquatic life.
Seneca Pure Waters board of directors hopes to obtain a response from the DEC sometime in the near future. Thus, we do not ask our members to take action at this time.
Written by Ron Klinczar
The Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association announces a first round of awards for its newly formed Sediment, Nutrient, and Pollution Reduction Program (SNPR). Four projects around the lake have been designated for funding to County Soil and Water Conservation districts:
The funds will be used to allow these projects to be constructed over the next 12 months. Pure Waters is excited to partner with these SWCD’s, who have a charter to protect the lands and waters of the Seneca Lake watershed. When implemented, the projects are expected to reduce up to four hundred tons of sediments from entering Seneca Lake annually. Our funds are being matched with other outside funds and contributions of labor and equipment, to magnify their impact to improving the lake.
The SNPR program, launched last year, has a specific focus on reducing sediment and nutrients that negatively impact the water quality of Seneca Lake and its tributaries through financial assistance. The Seneca Lake watershed’s various land uses all contribute to the sediment and nutrient loading of the Lake, impacting the abundance of harmful algal blooms, nuisance weed growth, and altering the lake's available resources for aquatic life, among other things.
Initially, the program contributed $5000 to facilitate a $30,000 engineering study of the Keuka Outlet, which is now underway, with a plan to reconnect nearby canal beds which serve as wetlands and redirect high volume storm water there. The Keuka Outlet project is led by the Seneca Watershed Intermunicipal Organization, and partners include the Friends of the Outlet, Town of Geneva, and Yates County Soil and Water Conservation District, along with the Seneca Pure Waters' SNPR program.
These awards were designated despite the Association receiving notice of one of the SNPR’s founders passing last month, Mr. Rich Adams. Mr. Adams brought over 35 years’ experience with the Pennsylvania DEP to Pure Waters and was instrumental in advancing its cause.
Please visit www.senecalake.org/donate to give to this program, where you can specify your donation as a matching gift. Donations made this spring and summer will be allocated to watershed improvement projects in the second half of 2022. Please consider donating and stay up to date on SNPR program by visiting www.senecalake.org/snpr
Seneca Lake Pure Waters’ SNPR continues to advance our new program to aid in the implementation of projects to reduce sediments, nutrients, and pollutants that enter Seneca Lake from within the watershed. Having set aside funds for this purpose, SNPR is prepared to take action this spring!
On February 8, the SNPR team arranged a zoom meeting with County Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) to explain our program and request project proposals from them. Five Counties within the Seneca Lake watershed were invited to the call, including Ontario, Yates, Schuyler, Seneca, and Chemung County SWCD’s.
Since this partnership meeting, Pure Waters has received several proposals for projects that require matching funding to be constructed. We expect more project proposals to be submitted, and we have asked the SWCD’s for all proposals by the end of March. These projects can include stormwater retention ponds, streambank stabilization, planting of cover crops, stream buffers and plantings, ditch improvements, and research projects that meet the pollution reduction goals of Pure Waters. In April, projects will be evaluated, and we will select those that best meet the criteria that Pure Waters has established to protect the lake. Key criteria include:
• Does the project align with Pure Waters mission?
• Would the expenditure be multiplied by being a matching fund?
• Does the project strengthen our partnership?
• Are the risks of the project minimal?
• Is the project timing reasonable?[SLPW1]
As early as May 2022, we will be announcing the projects that will be funded by SNRP in the upcoming year.
Most of these projects are proposed to be constructed this year if fully funded, so it is likely we can celebrate completed projects by this fall. This is only the first round of project selection, and we expect to award projects year around, as further proposals are received. Pure Waters will continually fundraise for these projects, and your donated dollars will directly affect the water quality of Seneca Lake. We are excited for the opportunity that SNPR can become a program that continues to help improve the lake well into the future, and we hope you will join us in this effort!
LEARN MORE about SNPR
Donate to our 1:1 Matching Fund and see your dollars put to work as early as this summer!
By DAVID L. SHAW firstname.lastname@example.org
GENEVA — Sediment and nutrients that flow into Seneca Lake and its tributaries often have a negative impact on water quality.
To help combat that, Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association has formed a team of board members and qualified volunteers to launch a sediment, nutrient and pollution reduction program. Initial funding was provided by two watershed property owners who have donated $15,000 in matching funds to each incoming donation made to SLPWA for the new program.
The initiative will aid projects in the watershed that reduce pollutants, and limit others like organic chemicals, bacteria and heavy metals, along with helping with other projects of interest.
“We can lessen nutrient loading by implementing cover crops, incentivizing farms to use best management practices adjacent to streams, utilizing sediment retention and settling ponds, widening and stabilizing ditches near roadways and implementing other storm water control measures which have drastically helped elsewhere,” SLPWA President Jacob Welch said. “Implementing such programs comes with some hefty price tags, but with matching funds, we can meet that challenge head on.”
Welch noted sediment and nutrients contribute to the growth of harmful algal blooms and nuisance weeds, and alters aquatic life resources.
SLPWA has contributed $5,000 to help facilitate a $30,000 engineering study of the Keuka Outlet into Seneca Lake, with a plan to recover nearby canal beds that serve as a wetland and redirecting high volume storm water. The Keuka Outlet project is led by the Seneca Watershed Intermunicipal Organization and others.
To donate to the new program, go to www.senecalake.org/donate. All donations in February and March will be used for spring projects.
Written by Rich Adams and Ron Klinczar
As you may have heard, SNPR has a focus on the reduction of sediments and nutrients that find their way to Seneca Lake from stormwater related runoff. These include runoff from agricultural sources, from urban areas, from roads and from ditch erosion. These are known as “non-point” sources as the runoff is not attributable to a single point of discharge. SNPR is doing this by providing technical and funding assistance to entities like county Soil and Water Conservation Districts, who are experts in environmental management practices that control sediment and nutrient discharges.
However, another important aspect of SNPR engagement is pollutant reduction that deals with point source pollution from municipal and private sewage treatment systems, industrial sources, and direct stormwater discharges.
There are three large WWTP's that discharge into the lake and several smaller ones that discharge into tributaries. The nutrient loads from these discharges can cause localized water quality problems, like nutrient hot spots, or exceedance of bacterial water quality standards. This is especially true when wet weather flows compromise the treatment capacity and efficiency of the WWTP's.
One example is the Five Points WWTP which discharges to Reeder Creek on the east side of the lake. Discharge from this plant has caused water quality exceedances in phosphorus and other pollutants in the Creek and at its mouth. This zone of the lake is used extensively for recreation and water supply, and each summer, there are egregious growths of nuisance algae and HAB’s. Five Points WWTP is slated for a significant and costly upgrade to address these problems. SNPR has taken this opportunity to engage with Seneca County to assess relocation of the discharge from Reeder Creek, or to consider the use of non-discharge alternatives like summer spray irrigation on vacant land. We are in dialogue with the County to help explore whether out of lake discharge may be more economical.
SNPR routinely exercises the public right to comment on NYSDEC point source discharge permitting (known as SPDES) for both municipal WWTP's and industrial discharges. SNRP has submitted comments on the proposed SPDES permits for the Penn Yan WWTP discharge, the Lockwood Landfill fly ash leachate discharge, and the Greenidge heated water discharge, all of which enter the Keuka Outlet stream before flowing into Seneca Lake. Formal comments to NYSDEC often makes the agency more aware of areas of concern on the lake and can result in setting more stringent permit conditions.
SNPR is also engaged in dialogue with NYSDEC to consider water quality re-classifications for zones on the lake that are not designated as AA (the highest protection standard). Reclassification of the three B designated zones (Geneva area, Watkins Glen area, and Dresden area) would result in tighter controls on pertinent discharges. SNPR will continue our mission to engage with municipalities, industry, and NYSDEC, to find reasonable and more economical solutions, to keep our lake “fishable, swimmable and drinkable” as required by the Federal Clean Water Act.
Written by Rich Adams and Ron Klinczar
Wetlands. Mother Nature‘s ecological superheroes. They provide unique habitats for all sorts of songbirds, butterflies, important aquatic insects, animals, and specialized plants. Equally as important they are hydraulic sponges that can retain and absorb floodwaters, and release the water slowly, after allowing sediments to settle out. When these functions occur nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen are retained in the wetland and assimilated into plants and substrates. Nitrates, which are the most abundant form of nitrogen in the aquatic environment, are converted to harmless nitrogen gas which is released into the atmosphere. As you probably have heard, both phosphorus and nitrates are strongly implicated in the harmful algal blooms and nuisance weed growth plaguing the Finger Lakes, so their capture and conversion by wetlands is important.
The Keuka Outlet is the stream that carries Keuka Lake waters to Seneca Lake, discharging at Dresden. If you’ve ever hiked or biked the adjacent Keuka Outlet trail (and we highly recommend it), you’ll be traveling on the abandoned canal towpath/railbed. You may notice that the trail bed separates the Keuka Outlet braided stream channels from wetland areas located on the north side of the trail. The Crooked Creek Canal project, which was constructed last century, changed the waterway system and separated these wetlands from the Keuka Outlet. In that era, they functioned to control flows and flooding. Today, they need to be restored to that natural and useful purpose.
The majority of the flow in the outlet is Keuka Lake’s own water. However, other sources are collected and carried in the stream including urban runoff, the effluent from the Penn Yan Sewage Treatment Plant , and agricultural runoff during high flow conditions. All these sources can contain phosphorus and nitrates and other pollutants, most of which can be treated by wetlands!
OK, enough science and history. Where does SNPR come in? Ian Smith, the SWIO Watershed Steward, came up with a great idea - to reconnect the Keuka Outlet adjacent wetlands with the main stream channel. During high flow events, water, laden with sediments and nutrients, would be diverted from the Outlet to the wetlands, and not be discharged into our lake.
This can be made to happen by the construction of culvert connectors under the elevated trail path at key locations so that high flows can pass into the wetlands, reviving them and restoring their eco-functions. Retention basins and wetland expansions can also be constructed, enhancing the overall function of the ecosystem. Grants for the overall construction project have already been applied for and show great promise of success. The first step in the project is an engineering study and design, which will be undertaken this year. Yates County, the Town of Geneva, Friends of the Outlet, and SNPR are partners in funding the study.
Estimations have shown that the Keuka Outlet conveys the largest load of phosphorus into Seneca Lake of all its tributary streams. The reduction of this pollution, as assisted by the SNPR program, is a stellar example of what our program can help make happen, to protect and preserve our lake.
SPNR and Pure Waters' volunteers will assist in the main project implementation, including financial support, monitoring and outreach. Pure Waters will keep you up to date on the progress of this important project in future articles. In the meantime, please know that SNPR is “off and running!”
Written by Jake Welch
The Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association has formed a team consisting of board members and other highly qualified volunteers to launch the Sediment, Nutrient, and Pollution Reduction Program (SNPR). The SNPR program has a specific focus on reducing sediment and nutrients that negatively impact the water quality of Seneca Lake and its tributaries and will provide financial assistance to projects within the watershed that reduce these pollutants. Limiting other pollutants such as organic chemicals, bacteria, and heavy metals are also projects of interest.
“We can lessen nutrient loading by implementing cover crops, incentivizing farmers to use best management practices adjacent to streams, utilizing sediment retention and settling ponds, widening and stabilizing ditches near roadways as well as implementing a host of other stormwater control measures which have drastically helped elsewhere”, said Jake Welch, President of Pure Waters and Co-Chair of the new program. “Implementing such programs comes with some hefty price tags. Yet, with matching funds, we can meet that challenge head on”, he said.
The Seneca Lake watershed’s various land uses all contribute to the sediment and nutrient loading of the Lake, impacting the abundance of harmful algal blooms, nuisance weed growth, and altering the lake's available resources for aquatic life, among other things.
The SNPR program has already begun to partner with watershed protection entities to limit pollutant loading of Seneca Lake. The program has contributed $5000 to facilitate a $30,000 engineering study of the Keuka Outlet, with a plan to reconnect nearby canal beds which serve as wetlands and redirect high volume stormwater there.
The Keuka Outlet project is led by the Seneca Watershed Intermunicipal Organization, and partners include the Friends of the Outlet, Town of Geneva, and Yates County Soil and Water Conservation District, along with the Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association. The partnership and collaboration for watershed improvement projects is crucial and the SNPR program will meet with all Soil and Water Conservation Districts to identify additional projects for funding this month.
Two generous watershed residents have donated $15,000 to the program as matching funds and will be used to match incoming SNPR donations 1:1. Donations received for SNPR program will have a direct and often immediate impact on the improvement of Seneca Lake water quality. Please visit www.senecalake.org/donate to give to this program, where you can specify your donation as a matching gift.
Keep up with Pure Waters:
Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association
P.O. Box 247
Geneva, NY 14456