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Minimizing Vineyard Erosion and Protecting Seneca Lake through the Sediment, Nutrient, and Pollution Reduction Program

12/29/2022 1:34 PM | Kaitlin Fello (Administrator)

Written by Kaitlin Fello

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. 

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