Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association learned on Tuesday that its proposal to complete a 9 Element Plan for the Seneca Lake watershed, which includes Keuka Lake, will receive a Consolidated Funding Application grant from New York State sufficient to cover the costs to retain Ecologic, a consulting firm from Cazenovia.
Ecologic has experience completing similar plans for waterbodies including Chautauqua Lake, Onondaga Lake, Cayuga Lake, and the Mohawk and Colorado Rivers. The Association and its partners, which include the Seneca Watershed Inter-municipal Organization, the Keuka Lake Association and the Keuka Watershed Inter-municipal Cooperative, will oversee development of the Plan, which will also include involvement of local organizations familiar with conditions of the two Lakes and their shared watershed.
The 9 Element Plan for the Seneca watershed will involve the Finger Lakes Institute (FLI) via the hiring of a staff person dedicated to pursuing actions and planning related to the watershed that includes Seneca and Keuka Lakes. Ecologic, will perform scientific analyses and modeling of both Lakes; and the four collaborative partners (the two Lake associations and two inter-municipal organizations involved in Keuka and Seneca Lakes), who will oversee development of the Plan and subsequent actions.
A project advisory committee, consisting of qualified and interested parties from area Soil Conservation Districts, Regional Planning Commissions (Southern Tier and Genesee), Cornell Cooperative Extension and other groups (such as Keuka College) will be formed to extend outreach throughout the watershed and to the various county, municipal, agencies and institutions who are essentially the stakeholders related to the development of the 9 Element Plan. This committee will be limited to key representatives with recognized expertise related to the Plan and its future implementation.
The outreach initiative will be intended to engage local elected officials and interested members of the general public in understanding the implications of the scientific analyses completed and developing any actions plans that emerge from this understanding. While the state CFA funding will be dedicated to retaining Ecologic, funding commitments by the two lake associations and intermunicipal groups and all six counties included in the watershed will enable the involvement of local groups.
It is expected that the staff person to be hired by FLI will also play a lead role in this outreach effort, working closely with Ecologic and the four partners. The staff person will report to the FLI director, but will interact with the four partners via the FLI director with the four partners functioning in a fiduciary role relative to the staff person and also with Ecologic with respect to the 9 Element Plan, its development and related implementation planning. The Finger Lakes Institute is part of Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
In their fiduciary role, the four partners shall strive to create linkages with other stakeholders outside of the project advisory committee from an implementation planning perspective, such as with key agency and elected officials at the state and federal levels (like the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation), who may provide guidance and access to necessary resources and expertise.