Natural Resources Committee, Wayne County Master Plan

The meeting was held from 7 to 8:40 pm at the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Newark. The following people attended the meeting, which was facilitated by Cynthia Hill, Master Plan Consultant, with the help of guest speaker Tiffany Boas, staff of the Water Quality Coordinating Committee: Dave Hoffman, Newark; Glen Wallis, Lyons; Dave Feindel, Williamson; Gay Mills, Monroe County (Genesee Land Trust); Bill Ryder, Macedon; Betty Hill, Williamson; Pete von Schondorf; David Scudder, Huron; and Bill Herbert, Williamson.

The next meeting was scheduled for June 2nd at the Newark Cooperative Extension Building in Newark.

Thanks to Wallis for offering to call people before meetings to encourage them to attend. Thanks to Ryder for providing information on agriculture, landscaping with native plants, and the Erie Canal Heritage Authority's plans. Thanks to Feindel for information on legal issues related to trail development and for bringing in the feasibility study for the formerly-proposed super collider (reference: NY State Proposal for the Super Collider. Vol 5. Environment).

The consultant announced a series of training workshops for citizen-planners, including the Regional Local Government Conference in Mount Morris.

The minutes of the March 3, 2003 meeting were approved.

PRESENTATION BY TIFFANY BOAS Tiffany Boas summarized current State and County efforts to improve and protect water quality in the County. She then suggested goals for the masterplan that would be consistent with the efforts of the Water Quality Coordinating Committee.

According to Tiffany, national statistics indicate that 36% of the nation's water bodies are impaired and 8% are threatened. 97% of the shores of the Great Lakes are impaired. The following water
bodies in Wayne County are listed by DEC as polluted to some degree (PWL list): Ganargua Creek, Port Bay, Sodus Bay, Wolcott Creek, Wolcott Creek West, Clyde River, Sodus Creek, Crusoe Creek, Erie Canal, East Bay, Blind Sodus Bay, First Creek, Mudge Creek, Military Run, Mink Creek, Marbletown Creek, Red Creek (Wolcott), Red Creek (Marion), Seneca River, and Lake Ontario.

The reference for the PWL list is NYDEC Division of Water… The Priority Water Body List: Oswego, Seneca, Oneida River Basin.

This list is longer than Tompkins County's list because our Soil and Water Conservation District has an extensive testing program that has provided DEC with evidence of water quality problems. This agency is currently testing Maxwell Creek, Bear Creek, Deer Creek, and Salmon Creek, plus other water bodies. The District uses EPA certified labs.

There are three classifications on the PWL list. A water body that is Class A must be a public drinking water supply. A Class B waterbody is used for recreational use and primary contact (swimming, for example). A Class C list is important for fish propagation. Sodus Bay, for example, is Class B, as are all the bays. Ganargua Creek is Class C.

The severity of degradation is either precluded (eliminates a use), impaired (frequent beach closing or a fishing consumption advisory), stressed (marginally restricted use), or threatened (existing or proposed land use may result in restricted water quality, but there are no current stresses).

According to Boas, the primary threats to water quality of the rivers in Wayne County are agricultural run-off and poorly constructed and/or maintained on-site septic systems, municipal point sources, such as sewage plant discharges, hydraulic modification, habitat modification, and urban runoff, including discharge from storm sewers.

The primary threats to water quality of lakes and embayments are agricultural run-off and poorly constructed and/or maintained on-site septic systems, atmospheric deposition, unspecified nonpoint sources, urban run-off, including discharge from storm sewers, and municipal point sources.

Water is important for tourism: 70% of tourism dollars are spent in the County because people come here to fish, swim, boat, scuba dive, snorkel, hunt, hike, camp, and enjoy nature walks. Sodus Bay is the main attraction.

Boas outlined 5 goals to improve management of surface water resources in Wayne County: 1. Place high value on protection and enhancement of freshwater resources. Build community stewardship through increased public education and awareness.

2. Plan land use: (a) Minimize the area of the County that may be paved or otherwise modified; (b) preserve environmentally sensitive areas, including riparian areas, against development.

3. Encourage green and open space protection to protect our way of life, increase the quality of life, and prevent urban sprawl.

4. Encourage conservation-minded ordinances and regulations, including stormwater management and erosion control, septic regulation, well-head protection, density of construction (control over lot sizes), flood zones, and wetland protection.

5. Provide for consistent funding of natural and water resource programs: Support local efforts of the Soil and Water Conservation District, the Wayne County Water Quality Coordinating Committee, and the NYDEC, which has lost half its local staff recently.

The Town of Huron is the only town in Wayne County that has a septic system law for existing systems. About 8-11 properties that are inspected are failing to meet the requirements. The town has inspected 300 properties so far.

The Water Quality Coordinating Committee and the Soil Conservation District also coordinate testing of private groundwater wells for total coliform, e coli bacteria, and a standardized plate count
of bacteria. If the results are positive, land-owners are referred to Public Health. Shallow wells less than 60 feet deep are considered to be in hydraulic communication with surface water and test results may vary from day to day. For deep wells landowners should test in the spring and the fall.

Testing for nitrate in ground and surface water costs $50-60 a sample through the Soil and Water Conservation District. Hill mentioned that preliminary screening for nitrate would be significantly less at Cornell. The drawback is that Cornell chooses not to apply for EPA certification, so test results have less legal clout. But nitrate can cause young children to die if the concentrations exceed 10 mg/L in their drinking water, so testing is important.

Scudder advised people to call 1(800) tipp-DEC if they want to anonymously report a water quality problem. The DEC does investigate, but not as quickly as when you provide your name.

The natural resources committee adopted goal # 1. The consultant will reword goal #2a and bring proposals to the next meeting. Goal #2b was adopted in the following form:

Encourage towns to develop regulations to protect environmentally sensitive areas, including riparian areas. Preserve open spaces in each community prior to providing for other
types of public infrastructure and construction. The committee discussed the potential uses of open space and agreed that there should be space for wildlife preservation and for all
types of recreational uses. There are conflicts between wildlife preservation and certain recreational uses, as well as conflicts between different recreational uses, but there should be recreational
space for everyone.

Goals # 4 and 5 were adopted.

The consultant promoted an idea of the Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Water Quality Coordinating Committee: hire a County watershed inspector. Members suggested we need watershed plans first. The consultant replied that general watershed plans will be part of the County Master Plan. The committee directed the consultant to investigate how the County might help the towns enforce existing federal and state environmental and possibly local regulations. The committee wants to discuss the idea of a watershed inspector after further consideration.

Scudder suggested promoting overlay districts to protect water quality.

Feindel announced that June 7 will be National Trails Day and Trail Works is having a hike that will start and finish in Forman Park from 10 to 1, with refreshments.