County Agencies and Programs

The counties in the Cayuga Lake Watershed each have a committee or council responsible for providing guidance and monitoring of issues related to county water quality and resources. Each of the groups consists of members from various agencies including planning, DOH, SWCD, and others. NPS is an oft-discussed topic among the committees, agencies, and councils. Studies and reports conducted in each county have monitored and assessed NPS to assist in developing guidance for controlling NPS.

County Water Quality and Resource Groups

Cayuga County Water Quality Management Agency
Cortland County Water Quality Coordinating Committee
Schuyler County Water Quality Coordinating Committee
Seneca County Water Quality Committee
Tioga County Water Quality Coordinating Committee
Tompkins County Water Resources Council

Each county has a SWCD responsible for implementing the NYS Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program. The New York Soil and Water Conservation Law administered by the SWCC requires owners of agriculture, livestock, or timber producing lands to apply to their respective county’s SWCD for a soil and water conservation plan. The SWCD is obligated to produce such a plan upon request by the owner of the land, but there is no penalty for not implementing the plan upon its completion. The Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program is often included as part of the Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) program that produces such plans.

Each county or region has a Health Department which oversees the drinking water supplies.  This can include implementation of the Source Water Assessment Program (SWAP) (exit this site), inspection of on-site wastewater systems, and enactment of Watershed Rules and Regulations.

Each county in the watershed has a Planning Department that oversees the development of planning activities, planning boards, and supports municipal local land use regulation and control efforts.  The following table outlines the counties land use regulation and control activities:

County Comprehensive Plan Drainage Plan Sediment & Erosion Control Laws Vegetation Retention Laws Other County Plans Other County Ordinances Planning Board/ Commission
Cayuga No No No No Yes (Land Use) Yes (Sanitary Code) Yes
Cortland Yes No No No No No Yes
Schuyler Yes No No No Yes (Water Quality) Yes (Watershed Protection) Yes
Seneca No* No No No Yes (Agriculture) No Yes
Tioga Yes No No No Yes (Agriculture and Future Use) No Yes
Tompkins Yes No No No Yes Yes No

* Prepared but not adopted

Other countywide ordinances, laws, plans, and programs that address NPS are also in place within the Cayuga Lake Watershed. The Cayuga County Sanitary Code requires periodic inspection of all septic systems within the watershed. In Seneca County a countywide drainage plan assists in the management of NPS through standards set to protect and enhance water.

Through the 1994 Watershed Protection Law of Schuyler County, NPS management is attained through regulation and enforcement of sewage disposal and wastewater treatment systems throughout the county. Provisions are stipulated for the discharge and disposal of sewage and the design, construction, and certification of wastewater treatment facilities.

Five of the six counties in the watershed have planning boards or commissions responsible for conducting reviews and issuing approval for proposed development. The Tompkins County Planning Department, under provisions of their Charter, is responsible for reviewing development proposals. Although they do not have a planning board or commission at the county level, they do have a Planning Advisory Board that assumes the functions of a planning board. Cayuga, Cortland, Schuyler, and Tompkins Counties each have an environmental management council while Tioga County has a conservation board. These groups monitor and advise on issues related to development and sustaining/improving the environmental character of their respective counties. None of the counties in the watershed currently have sediment and erosion control laws or vegetation retention laws.

In addition to its comprehensive plan, Tioga County has a future land use plan and an agriculture and farmland protection plan. The Tioga County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan focuses on retaining and building upon the economic benefits of agriculture in the county through more viable farming practices. Tompkins County has an approved Farmland Protection Plan.

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CLW IO 2004