Erie County partners on plan to protect & improve water quality for portions of 8 counties
Erie County has announced the completion of the Regional Niagara River/Lake Erie Watershed Management Plan – phase 2 project, which will help guide organizations, municipalities and citizens on how to protect and improve water quality in the region.
A press release stated, “The completion of phase II is an important step in completing a NYS-approved nine-element watershed management plan, needed to bring additional federal and state dollars to WNY for water quality implementation project funding. With over 2,300 square miles and a population of almost 1.2 million people, a management plan is essential for the Niagara River/Lake Erie Watershed to protect our waterways for drinking water, recreation, agriculture and business.”
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said, “This plan encourages smart growth in the region and connects development patterns to water quality impacts. We are working to ensure that economic development does not harm our natural resources and, as the only county entirely within the watershed, Erie County is proud to coordinate this initiative.”
The phase 2 Watershed Management Plan was funded by New York State Department of State with funds provided under Title 11 of the Environmental Protection Fund. Erie County partnered with the Lake Erie Watershed Protection Alliance (LEWPA) and Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper to complete the project.
LEWPA assisted with updating the Watershed Atlas and Bibliography and the Watershed Characterization as part of this project. LEWPA is made up of existing governmental agencies in Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Erie counties working cooperatively with other stakeholders on water quality in the area draining to the Niagara River and Lake Erie within New York. The LEWPA board of directors includes three members from each county to ensure multiple perspectives on water quality and quantity issues: one local government representative, one regional government representative, and one Soil & Water Conservation District representative.
Mark Gaston, district field manager for the Erie County Soil and Water Conservation District, and LEWPA board member, added, “The collaboration of the nine representatives on the LEWPA board of directors has been outstanding and should be a model for future watershed planning efforts. ”
Jill Jedlicka, the executive director of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, said, “This watershed management plan is an integral component of addressing impairments to water quality and habitat throughout our region, and protecting our source waters for future generations.”
Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper has also been a key partner in the development of the plan, coordinating an urban creek corridor restoration-community engagement model for Scajaquada Creek as part of the project. After completing phase 1 in the Niagara River Watershed, Waterkeeper selected five priority sub-watersheds based on their potential for protection or restoration of impairments, and performed in-depth assessments. The resulting sub-watershed implementation plans for the upper Tonawanda Creek, lower Tonawanda Creek, Buffalo River, Smokes Creek and Eighteenmile Creek sub-watersheds have been released as part of this phase 2 project.
For more information on the Watershed Management Plan, visit www.erie.gov/wmp; on the Lake Erie Watershed Protection Alliance, visit www.erie.gov/lewpa; or on Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, visit, www.bnwaterkeeper.org.