Cayuga Lake Watershed Management Plan
First Meeting, 10/20/98 7:00 - 9:00 PM
Cayuga Nature Center, Ithaca
Attendees: See attached sign-in sheet.
Welcoming Remarks, Meeting Purpose and Outcome: Attendees
were welcomed to the 1st meeting of the Cayuga Lake Watershed Management Plan
Intermunicipal Organization and thanked for coming. The Intermunicipal Organization (IO)
is critical to the planning process as the plan needs to be locally determined and
accepted to be successfully implemented. A watershed plan will help protect and enhance
the health and well-being of the watershed. All 43 municipalities in the watershed are
being asked to participate on the IO, and will comprise the majority of it. Other key
stakeholders in the watershed such as county water quality coordinating committees
(WQCCs), agriculture, academic institutions, sportsmen, legislators, and tourism and
economic development interests are also being asked to participate on the IO.
This watershed planning project is a three-year effort, for
which NYS Department of State (DOS) Division of Coastal Resources has so far committed
funding for 50% of 1st and 2nd year project costs through the NYS
Environmental Protection Fund. The Town of Ledyard is the municipal sponsor for the NYS
DOS grant and is to be commended for being willing to take the lead and get this watershed
planning process underway. NYS DOS stressed the importance of true local involvement and
buy-in. NYS DOS supports the effort and recognizes the large size of the watershed and the
challenges that will bring. The significance of having an approved watershed management
plan is for accessing water quality protection funds, in particular the Clean Water/Clean
Air Bond Act, which sets aside $25 million for the Finger Lakes.
The meeting purpose is: To familiarize everyone with the
watershed management planning process, the Cayuga Lake Watershed Management Plans
major components under the NYS DOS contract and their status, the staffing to the project,
and the value and need of the project; to answer questions and facilitate dialogue about
the project and IO; and to set up the next IO meeting. The desired outcome for the meeting
is that participants better understand the project, its need and value; and that the next
meeting is planned.
Introductions: Introductions were made of all attendees.
Cayuga Lake Watershed Management Planning Project: Overheads,
also provided as handouts, were shown summarizing: 1) The Watershed Management Planning
Process; 2) Major Components of the Cayuga Lake Watershed Management Planning Process as
pertains to the NYS DOS/Town of Ledyard contract; 3) Current Staffing for the project. The
status of the DOS contract components were summarized.
Cayuga Lake Watershed Management Plan Slide Show: The
slide show presentation:
- Defined "What is a watershed?" (all the land above or below
ground draining to a common point such as a lake or river);
- Identified project strengths (uses a watershed approach; funding is available for
plan development and implementation implementation being purpose of plan
development; its a grassroots/multi-county effort; there are models to follow;
theres not a crisis situation for water quality so its a proactive effort);
- Identified strengths that the project is building upon (existing and past
projects and research, county WQCC efforts, municipal and citizen stewardship activities,
and the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network);
- Discussed the relationship of the management plan project to the Network (the
relationship is still evolving but is viewed as a partnership the Network supports
the planning process and will work with it in terms of communication, coordination and
information dissemination which is the critical foundation for both efforts);
- Defined funding sources available and/or being pursued for the planning effort
(NYS DOS, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), NYS Planning Grants);
- Identified key benefits of a watershed plan (communication; coordination;
identification of pollution problems and solutions to them implementation
activities; protection of citizen health; protection of the economy);
- Identified the community value/benefits of a plan in terms of health (e.g.,
drinking water); economy (e.g., property values, industrial and commercial location,
agriculture, tourism/recreation); and tourism/recreation (e.g., fishing, boating, winery
- Identified what the plan will focus on (local concerns e.g., septic
systems, aquatic vegetation, zebra mussels, streambank and roadbank erosion);
- Defined the minimum role of the IO (project oversight and
watershed-wide coordination) but that the IO must define itself and its role in
plan development and implementation.
Question/Answer and Discussion: Discussion points included:
- The IO the Board of Directors for plan development and even implementation
must define itself (e.g., charge, mission, bylaws, officers, office location and
staff, committees, meeting logistics) and all future agendas. An organizational committee
should be set up to work out the agenda for future meetings.
- Those present need more information about the project and the IOs charge
before participants can commit to it.
- There is concern about threats to the agriculture community from having to deal
with nonpoint source pollution.
- There is concern that activities have been done before the IO was created. It was
clarified that the project is just getting underway since August, and that only basic,
preliminary work (e.g., compiling water quality information, watershed boundary
delineation, public information materials about the project to get the word out and
interest in) is underway.
- Ledyard, as municipal sponsor, should call/lead IO meetings, using staff
resources as needed.
- This is the first "IO" being created there is no model preceding
it. It is a creature of the DOS contract, but a great way to build local involvement and
ownership. There are other watershed planning efforts underway, such as in the Seneca Lake
watershed, where there is a stewardship group (Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association) in
existence (from well before the planning process started), as well as the Seneca Lake Area
Partners (SLAP-5) that is closely affiliated with Pure Waters, but which was created
specifically for plan development.
- Having an approved plan gives access to future funding. Having the IO and
municipal buy-in is important to DEC. A formal structure is recommended for plan
development. An "approved plan" is a plan that is accepted by the Secretary of
State, Commissioner of DEC, or the Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets.
- The key reason Ledyard sponsored the project is because it is locally rooted and
driven. Ledyard isnt interested in advancing the effort if its not locally
driven. It shouldnt be a paper shuffling exercise.
- Its significant, and rare, that these diverse players (federal, state,
county and local government and other local interests) are present and talking. It will be
awkward at first.
- This could be a model for use in other watersheds.
- Political and ecological/natural boundaries dont coincide but crossing
political boundaries to address environmental issues is critical. This project and group
is a great start to operating from a hydrologically based perspective and breaking down
- This IO is the best way to manage the watershed. It will be challenging because
of the diversity of interests. The IO will need to seek reasonable consensus of everyone
in the watershed to devise acceptable recommendations. If successful, the IO will change
the way government operates in the Finger Lakes.
- Fisheries experts should be involved. There is a lot of information out there,
much of it that wont be necessary to this effort. We need to look at water quality
"from the lake out".
- It would be helpful to have other watershed plan representatives (e.g., Keuka and
Canandaigua Lakes) come talk about what theyre doing.
- Flexibility is needed in executing the planning process. NYS DOS said that the
most important thing is that it be a local approach. DOS will support whatever works best
to achieve that.
- DOS has met with shoreline municipalities about the project and IO, but can meet
with them again, as well as non-shoreline municipalities in the watershed. Some of the
municipal representatives already committed to IO participation should accompany DOS.
- A Temporary Steering Committee was established to plan the next meeting agenda
and accompany the DOS in municipal recruitment efforts. It will meet 10/26 at 3:00 in
Ledyard. Committee consists of: Deb Grantham (Dryden), Dave Morehouse (Ledyard), Sylvia
Hurlbut (Ledyard), Tom Vawter (Wells College), John Fessenden (Network).
- There is confusion between this planning effort and the Network. Effective
communication is the critical element of both efforts.
- Someone should talk at the 2nd meeting to give a broader explanation
of why this group needs to be formed. Information is needed to identify the difference
between what must be done (regulation-wise) and what would be nice to do.
- NYS DEC Region 7 said that there are regulations under both the federal Clean
Water Act and NYS Environmental Conservation Law that deal with point and nonpoint source
pollution. Right now, the only guide DEC has for making decisions about funding to address
problems is the States Priority Waterbodies List, which DEC develops in conjunction
with county water quality coordinating committees. Since NYS is a home rule state, if
municipalities in a watershed develop a plan listing problems, issues and priorities, it
becomes the regulatory/management tool for that watershed and gives the locals the
authority to manage it. Otherwise, DEC determines what needs to be done and where money
should be spent. The Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act includes funding for not only point
and nonpoint (both agricultural and non-agricultural) source pollution reduction, but also
for aquatic habitat restoration, open space and other categories.
- The next IO meeting is Monday, November 9, 1998 from 7:00-9:00 P.M. at the Ledyard Town
Hall. Future meetings should not be scheduled for 1st
or 3rd Mondays, 1st or 3rd Tuesdays (Tompkins Co. Bd. of
Reps meets), or 2nd Tuesdays. A regular meeting schedule will be discussed at
the next meeting.