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FLX MORNING PODCAST – Ron Klinczar, Seneca Lake Pure Waters


In this episode:

  • Ron is a recently retired career Civil Engineer working as a consultant. He undertook many projects collaborating with environmental scientists and worked with NYSDOT on their wall and culvert program surrounding many of the Finger Lakes.
  • SNPR = Sediment, Nutrient, and Pollution Reduction Program. The name was coined by our late program founder Rich Adams.
  • From Infancy to a legitimate program: 15 months ago we were formulating strategies, now we have partnered in 3 completed projects, 2 projects being underway, and have recently awarded 3 more projects for 2023. We have issued press releases that have been favorably received by the local media.
  • Types of projects awarded: We know that on this watershed it is best if sediments are captured upland of the steeper slopes surrounding much of the lake. One the sediments get to the steeper slopes the speed of the flowing water is such that there is little hope that these sediments can be stopped from entering the water. So projects that slow down the flow of water are beneficial. These include: constructing water retention ponds, creating buffers between animal agriculture and streams, planting of off-season cover crops, and hydroseeding of ditches.
  • Take cover crops, for example. Crops that are planted in the fall could include: rye, oats, wheat, radishes, peas, or clover. The crops, which are typically planted in late fall following the harvest of traditional plantings, improve soil health for the spring. But from our perspective, they stop harmful winter erosion of the farm soils that can easily run into the lake over frozen ground.
  • What we have learned: We are best not being the lead agency. We are best partnering, rather than competing with Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD’s) and the Seneca Watershed Intermunicipal Organization (SWIO). So we provide funding that is matched by the SWCD’s. If for example, someone provides a donation that they wish would be used for this purpose, that could be matched to have 3 to 5 times the magnitude of their donation. But anyone can donate, become a member of Pure Waters, and we can put those funds to use for one of many purposes our organization undertakes.
  • Project Selection Criteria: Our team has developed a list of project selection criteria. Originally, eight criteria were developed by our SNPR team of scientists, engineers, and other professionals, as well as concerned citizens. Ron can discuss one or two or can go through the list of them. Criteria include: Benefit, cost, timing, resources, leverage, partnerships, mission, success likelihood.
  • Incorporation of the Nine Element (9E) Plan: This plan, which is the guide for the Seneca-Keuka Watershed for phosphorus reduction, was accepted by NYSDEC last year and has now been incorporated as our ninth project selection criteria. Pure Waters was a technical member of the 9E steering committee. The plan opens the door for the watershed to obtain a greater degree of funding in the future. That plan was led by SWIO and by the lake steward Ian Smith, and we were satisfied with the report.
  • The public can help! We are always looking for new volunteers to join Pure Waters, and that holds true for our SNPR program. Even if you are not sure what interests you, you can sign up on our Pure Waters website and our Director, Kaitlin Fello, will be in contact with you.

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