Canandaigua Lake Watershed group eyes future
Mounting development issues around Canandaigua Lake — think the debate over regulating construction on steep slopes in Middlesex, or legal wrangling over a condominium project in South Bristol — face the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Council as it works to protect the lake.
Though those two specific matters were not discussed at the council’s first meeting of 2014 on Tuesday, the overall goals of the council were addressed as its members looked ahead at priorities for upcoming action.
The council — made up of representatives of the 14 municipalities in the Canandaigua Lake watershed, as well as those that access their drinking water from the watershed — chose new officers Tuesday. Canandaigua Mayor Ellen Polimeni, serving as acting temporary chairwoman before the new officers were selected, spoke of how the council began — with citizens coming together in the late 1980s over a common goal of maintaining and preserving the lake. They included boat house owners, members of the yacht club, sportsmen clubs, lake preservation groups and others, she said. “It was a groundswell of concern,” Polimeni said — concern that grew stronger and continues today, she said.
The council chose Gorham Town Supervisor Fred Lightfoote as its chairman, Bristol Town Supervisor Bob Green as co-chairman, and Polimeni as treasurer.
A draft update of the council’s Canandaigua Lake Watershed Management Plan, first adopted in 2000, contains a list of some 150 action items, Canandaigua Lake Watershed Program Manager Kevin Olvany told the council. Tops on the list of priorities for 2014 is approving the updated document, which addresses a wide spectrum of actions to help protect the lake for future generations. They include: pesticide use; mined lands; forestry; septic systems; recreation; chemical storage; hazardous waste spills; and development. Several new sections have been added to the plan, such as those dealing with natural gas extraction and invasive species.
Olvany said the goal is to have the updated plan ready for public view and comment by this spring, with adoption by the end of the year.
Also during the meeting, Olvany reviewed watershed programs, some of which are completed and others in the works. One currently on the docket is formation of a water trail. The plan is for the council, working in partnership with tourism agencies and other groups, to create canoe and kayak launches around the lake.
Ongoing projects, which include those completed and others planned or in process, involve wetland restoration, erosion control, stormwater management and water quality monitorThe watershed is “healthy, high quality,” said Olvany — the cumulative effect of a combination of factors that determine the health of the lake, he said. Working with professionals such as Canandaigua Lake Watershed Inspector George Barden, Finger Lakes Community College Professor of Environmental Conservation Bruce Gilman and others enables the team to help local municipalities handle issues affecting the watershed, Olvany said.
Olvany said the question to ask is: “What will be our legacy?” It will be determined not by the Watershed Council alone, he said, but by “all the multiple groups working together.”
Canandaigua Lake Watershed Council members:
Town of South Bristol: Supervisor Barbara Welch
Town of Canandaigua: Supervisor Pam Helming
City of Canandaigua: Mayor Ellen Polimeni (council treasurer)
Town of Potter: Town Board member June Pendleton
Town/Village of Naples: Town Board member Mary Mueller
Village of Newark: Head water operator Mike Gonzalez
Town of Bristol: Supervisor Bob Green (council co-chairman)
Town of Middlesex: Town Board members Peter Gerbic and Allan Button
Village of Rushville: Trustee Chuck Elwell
Town of Italy: Town Board member Ruth Craig
Village of Palmyra: Marty Aman, executive director of Wayne County Water and Sewer Authority
Town of Gorham: Supervisor Fred Lightfoote (council chairman)
Watershed Program Manager: Kevin Olvany