The Rochester Embayment of Lake Ontario is a federally designated Area of Concern because of a range of concerns including pollution, contaminated sediments, fish consumption advisories and impairment of beneficial use such as beach closings. Many area tributaries to Lake Ontario and the Genesee River do not meet state water quality standards.
The beaches of Lake Ontario are closed typically for 30 to 50% of the bathing season because of high bacteria levels and contamination with algae.
Development of our lakeshore assets, including the Port of Rochester, is dependent upon a sustained improvement in the near-shore water quality.
The challenge to the community is how to reduce contamination of the Lake Ontario and Finger Lakes watersheds from agricultural activities, municipal and industrial wastewater discharges, urban stormwater runoff, and septic systems in a cost-effective manner. Improving the water quality in the region's waters will make a vital contribution to improving the quality of life in the area and to the economic and environmental revitalization of the region's lakeshore assets.
The waters of the Genesee River, its tributaries and Lake Ontario are a key regional asset essential to the economic vitality of the Finger Lakes region.
But our region's waters are not healthy!
Genesee River at Lake Ontario:
Lake Erie 2011:
• Stressed fisheries
• Threatened drinking water
• Beach closings
• Over 30 streams listed as impaired by the NYS DEC
• Genesee River under-used by public
• Few river-based businesses
• No users = No interest
• The biggest threats to our region's waters are excess nutrients coming from fertilizer, manure, home septic systems, food processing by-products and discharges from older wastewater plants.
• Additional threats include sediment runoff from fields, roads and housing as well as non-point source chemical and solid wastes.
• Capitalizing on our region's major agricultural and food processing opportunities will place additional pressure on water quality. At the same time, the need to responsibly dispose of animal and process waste increases farmer and food processor costs and limits expansion opportunities.
Existing water quality organizations are fragmented and limited by geography and/or functional responsibility. A "system approach" is required. The Genesee RiverWatch is providing that approach.
CEI's Genesee RiverWatch mission:
• Develop regional partnerships to identify and prioritize restoration options and leverage the full influence and capacity of the region.
• Promote public interest and active involvement in the health of the watershed and in projects that will improve water quality and use of the rivers.
• Monitor and publish water quality information using "report cards" on the watersheds that will promote fact-based decision making.
• Attract project funding from foundations, agencies and individuals interested in water quality and confident in the effectiveness of a coordinated regional program.
• Harness advanced technology to solve critical problems by monitoring, identifying and promoting solutions that can make clean water a profitable activity.
• Advocate for appropriate regulation and compliance using education and collaboration as the preferred tools.
To support the Genesee RiverWatch or obtain more information, contact:
Center for Environmental Initiatives (www.ceinfo.org)