Lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands are treasured assets for the STC region. Three County Water Quality Committees meet regularly to protect and improve of these valuable water resources.
The health of streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands is tied to the health of the land surfaces from which the water drains. The land area that drains into a waterbody is called its watershed. Watershed planning is a comprehensive approach for addressing the full range of factors that could affect a body of water. Working with the County Water Quality Coordinating Committees and other partners, STC has led or participated in watershed planning for Keuka Lake, Seneca Lake, the Susquehanna-Chemung Watershed, and other watersheds.
Although the Chesapeake Bay is located many miles from New York’s Southern Tier, water from much of the region drains toward the Susquehanna River and eventually into the Bay. New York State participates in efforts to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and STC partners with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to implement practices that help to improve water quality locally, as well as downstream.
Protecting drinking water is a high priority and STC is working with state agencies to implement the Drinking Water Source Protection Program (DWSP2). A DWSP2 Framework is available to help municipalities develop and implement plans for public water supplies that protect public health and avoid preventable drinking water treatment costs.
Streams and rivers are valuable assets to the rural and developed landscapes through which they pass. However, streams are active systems that respond to disturbances and land use changes. This poses management challenges as we strive to reduce the potential for damage from erosion and flooding.
The STC region is blessed with two Finger Lakes–Keuka and Seneca—and many smaller lakes and wetlands. In addition to risks of water pollution, these waterbodies are threatened by invasive species that disrupt native ecosystems and harmful algal blooms that pose health risks.
Water-based recreation enhances the health and quality of life for residents and supports the region’s vibrant tourist economy. In addition to providing opportunities to connect with nature, recreational facilities typically have less impact on water quality and lower vulnerability to flood damage than other uses.