Cayuga Lake Watershed Management Plan
Strategic Framework
updated 21 January 2002

Introduction

Vision:

A single vision for the Cayuga Lake Watershed is impossible to define without being overly simplistic. Who doesn't want high water quality?. We all agree that clean water is essential.

Other than clean water, the more difficult question is, what do we want the watershed to look like in the future and how do we get there? If the answer seems obvious, then you should volunteer toward your vision or at least contact your local board to l et them know your thoughts on cooperative water quality agreements.

We envision the people of the watershed setting goals and determining the methods for attaining those goals with the belief that people will be more likely to adopt practices that they themselves have chosen. We cannot continue without your vision.

Cayuga Lake Watershed Restoration and Protection plan

As a key component of a Cayuga Lake watershed management plan, the Intermunicipal Organization (IO) has now published the first Cayuga Lake Watershed Restoration and Protection Plan. A successful watershed management plan has a number o f strategic components as well. These include:

1. a characterization (physical, biological, and cultural) of the watershed based on existing data and knowledge. A preliminary wastershed characterization has been completed.
2. a prioritized list of concerns and issues as established by the boards of Intermunicipal Organization members;
3. a vision for the future of the watershed;
4. a strategy for achieving that vision and;
5. the Cayuga Lake Watershed Restoration and Protection Plan which is now available This document has received much public input and the first Cayuga Lake Restoration and Protection Plan is now complete. Additional input is always needed.

For more information, contact Sharon Anderson, Cayuga Lake Watershed Steward. She can be reached at 607-532-4104, steward@cayugawatershed.org or
Cayuga Lake Watershed Network
P.O. Box 303
Interlaken NY 14847.

Elements of a Cayuga Lake Watershed Restoration and Protection Plan:

Following are the basic elements and brief descriptions of a restoration and protection plan that, if adopted, would guide the efforts of the Cayuga Lake Watershed Intermunicipal Organization. In order to implement each element, the specific actions/practices that can be used for implementation of the element are contained in the Cayuga Lake Watershed Restoration and Protection Plan (CLW RPP) itself.

The overall RPP reflects the issues of primary concern to the people who live and work in the Cayuga Lake watershed.
The following issues capture the results of the extensive public outreach associated with this project:

• Maintain quality of the drinking water supply (lake and groundwater).
• Enhance recreational and visual quality of Cayuga Lake and tributary streams.
• Protect the ecological integrity of Cayuga Lake and its watershed.

Various pollutants and land use practices threaten the future uses of the lake and watershed for these human and ecological functions. The Preliminary Watershed Characterization Report details the relationships between pollution types, sources, and impacts. For example, sediment is a significant pollutant within the watershed, that originates from multiple sources. Sediment loading has adverse impacts on the physical habitat, clarity, and chemistry of lakes and streams.

The RPP will discuss priority areas and recommend measures, both regulatory and non-regulatory, to reduce the impacts of land use within the watershed.

The strategy for watershed management will incorporate the following elements:

(1) Identify issues and establish priorities

The first act of collaboration has been to identify the issues pertinent to the Cayuga Lake Watershed and to establish the relative importance of those issues. This ongoing process has included public input through various forums, including public meetings, and from the boards of IO member municipalities.

This is a process that must continue in order for priorities to remain current as situations and the watershed change. Watershed partners should be included in establishing priorities and the IO will hold public meetings and provide other forums in order to seek input on issues of concern. Continued scientific study of the watershed will contribute to this process.

It will be important work with partners to identify their issues of concern, which may include economic, social and cultural as well as public health and environmental issues.

(2) Improve collaboration in watershed restoration and protection efforts:

Any effort to protect and improve the watershed requires concerted effort by all stakeholders. The IO is in a unique position to improve collaboration watershed-wide. Each of the other elements of the strategy support and are supported by this element. Actions might include collaborative grant writing, joint meetings and conferences, and offers of technical and financial assistance to collaborators, when funding is available. The participation of watershed partners in IO efforts, including watershed municipalities, the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network, Cornell Cooperative Extension, the County Water Quality Steering Committees, and the Soil and Water Conservation Districts, as well as State and Federal agencies, is vital and should be encouraged.

Specific actions that might be taken by the IO are:
• Reaching out to the municipalities in the watershed by offering a short presentation to their boards.
• Initiate a process to further engage the County Water Quality Coordinating Committees, including brief presentations to the IO about the county water quality strategies and current projects of the committees; identification of common goals and efforts; and application for joint funding to conduct work across the watershed.
• Provide opportunities for citizens to volunteer for specific projects and on IO committees.
• Identify stakeholders with respect to specific priority issues, such as local roads management, and facilitate funding applications to support joint projects.
• Support other, complementary efforts in the watershed by, for example, letters of support and in-kind contributions.

In all cases, it will be important work with partners to address issues of concern to them, which may include economic, social and cultural as well as public health and environmental issues.

(3) Promote Watershed Education:

Successful watershed management efforts, whether capital projects or local legislation, require an educated and supportive public. Significant progress towards some goals, such as properly maintained and functioning on-site wastewater treatment systems (OWTS) or functioning streamsides, can be accomplished through publicly initiated educational programs. In other words, education can implemented as part of a management for controlling any of the nonpoint source issues that a municipality may be facing. Potential audiences include municipalities, general public, business, agriculture, schools and landowners in general.

Specific actions that might be taken by the IO are:
• Building education into funding applications for assistance with specific issues, including demonstration projects.
• Collaborating with the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network, other non-profit environmental groups, and Cornell Cooperative Extension to provide watershed resident/homeowner education.
• Providing education for the municipalities in the watershed by offering short, issue-targeted presentations to their boards.

All educational programs must strive to convey to the target audience the benefits they will receive from efforts to protect and restore the watershed.

(4) Provide Technical Support to Collaborators

Technical assistance to collaborators might be provided by seeking funding and developing shared projects. The IO might initiate collaborative grant writing, arrange or seek funding for equipment sharing or sharing of engineering/scientific/planning expertise or develop model ordinances.

(5) Continue to Study the Watershed, Including Sampling and Monitoring, to:

• Improve the characterization of the watershed;
• Identify priority areas for action
• Evaluate the impacts of watershed management actions, whenever possible;
• Identify problems as they arise

The Monitoring Plan developed as part of this Proposed Cayuga Lake Watershed Restoration and Protection Plan is designed to focus on specific parameters and areas of concern identified as part of the planning process. Data gaps have been identified that limit our ability to draw conclusions regarding the
magnitude and significance of specific sources of contamination. The Monitoring Plan is designed to fill these data gaps. Data from monitoring will help the IO and watershed partners identify areas of concern within the watershed, and designate priority areas for application of best management practices. Finally, the Monitoring Plan can be designed to determine the effectiveness of specific control actions and the need for further controls to meet water quality objectives.

The four principles of the Monitoring Plan are:
1. Turn Data into Information, then into Strategic Information.
2. Incorporate a quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) program to document data quality and estimate sampling and analytical sources of variability.
3. Include "capstone indicators," organisms that, by their presence or absence, provide information regarding the ecological status of the community.
4. Strive to be cost effective.

Please contact Sharon Anderson, steward@cayugawatershed.org for more information.

 


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