ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) recently released a report on their work across the Great Lakes in New York, and their watersheds. Some of this work can be slow sometimes but the results are more than often worth it according to Shannon Dougherty, the acting Great Lakes Program Coordinator for the NYSDEC.
“The publishing of our first action agenda in 2014 we have been issuing this report on a biennial basis two years seems to be a nice time frame that really captures a good diversity of work that often takes months and and sometimes years to accomplish,” said Dougherty.
The most recent report highlights work done on the Genesee River to help reduce phosphorus pollution caused by runoff and other sources, among other projects.
“Best management practices conservation practices things like you know soil health practices or planting cover crops to reduce soil loss planting trees along stream banks nutrient management practices as well as you know manure storage system,” said Dougherty.
Phosphorous and other nitrates can cause harmful algae blooms to form among other issues that can damage ecosystems and devastate fish populations. In recent years though, there have been signs of new growth for some species.
“[The] USGS did capture a spawning female Lake sturgeon in the spring of 2021 so you know this was just a wonderful testament to a lot of the ecosystem improvements that we’ve seen in the watershed especially in the lower section that is more urbanized,” said Dougherty.
For reference, the lower section of the Genesee river is considered areas north of the Mt. Morris dam according to Dougherty, and contains the sections that flow through Rochester. Work isn’t just being done on the Genesee either, along Lake Ontario new monitoring sites have been put in to help visualize and track flooding events.
“[The] DEC partnered with USGS to establish eight new gauges that monitor real-time water level and wave data,” said Dougherty. “So you can look at what a lake level would look like at 247 [feet] you know outside your shoreline property or up to 251 feet of inundation.”
That website and inundation map can be found at this link on the USGS website. Now they’re working to finalize the plans for the next 7 years through 2030 as part of the Great Lakes Action Agenda.
“This revised updated version really will reflect kind of you know more emerging concerns project priorities you know additional research priorities,” said Dougherty.
They encourage local organizations, communities and individuals to get involved when they can as well.
The full report from the NYSDEC can be accessed here.