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Special Issue:

New York’s Water and Waterways

Volume 36, Issue 2  |  Spring/Summer 2015

President’s Page NYSAC OFFICERS Hon. Anthony J. Picente, Oneida County President

From the NYSAC President, Hon. Anthony J. Picente, Jr.

Hon. Maggie Brooks, Monroe County President-Elect Hon. William Cherry, Schoharie County First Vice President Mark R. Alger, Steuben County Past President

MEMBERS Hon. James D. Hoffman, Wayne County Hon. Kathleen Jimino, Rensselaer County Hon. John LaPointe, Washington County Hon. Joanie Mahoney, Onondaga County Hon. Edward P. Mangano, Nassau County Hon. Marc Molinaro, Dutchess County Hon. Christopher Moss, Chemung County


here is no greater time or place to recognize New York State’s quality of life than in the summer and on a beach.

We have the best of all worlds in New York. We have Atlantic Ocean beaches in Suffolk, Nassau and Westchester counties. We have some of the finest bodies of water in the world right here in New York State. In my home county, we have Oneida Lake with its wonderful beaches in and around Verona. We have the beautiful and historic Hudson, the Mohawk, the St. Lawrence, the Niagara and many other large and small rivers. And we have canals, which have long connected our waterways and marketplaces, making New York State both navigable and prosperous. Water is one of the most important assets that we have in New York. As local leaders, we have a role to play. We must protect our waterways and, at the same time, leverage them for enjoyment and to attract tourists, businesses and families to our great state. Several of the articles in this issue of NYSAC News address the challenges, opportunities and importance of water in New York State. I hope that you find them of value, and I hope that you have a chance this summer to enjoy what our waters have to offer us in the way of recreation and respite.

Hon. MaryEllen Odell, Putnam County Hon. William L. Ross, Niagara County Mr. Sherif Soliman, Office of NYC Mayor


Fall 2015 NYSAC News Magazine

Mr. Robert F. Currier, Albany County

PARLIAMENTARIANS Hon. Herman Geist, Esq., Westchester County

Hon. A. Douglas Berwanger, Wyoming County

Deadline: September 25, 2015 Submit articles of 750 words to To advertise, contact Juanita Munguia at  3

Director’s Note NYSAC STAFF

From the Executive Director, Stephen J. Acquario

Stephen J. Acquario, Esq. Executive Director Karen Catalfamo Office/Financial Manager Nicole Correia Communication Coordinator Patrick Cummings, Esq. Assistant Counsel Jackie Dederick Records Manager Katie Hohman Program Specialist Mark LaVigne Deputy Director Dave Lucas Director of Finance & Intergovernmental Affairs Patricia Milkiewicz Executive Assistant Juanita Munguia Marketing Specialist Jeanette Stanziano Director of Education & Training


very year’s State Legislative Session reinforces the role counties play in New York.

This year’s Legislative Session reflects the many ways we are connected to the state: Public health, education, roads and infrastructure, gaming, agriculture, emergency preparedness, economic development, public safety, juvenile justice. The final budget included the zero-percent growth cap in local Medicaid costs. Combined, the state’s Medicaid cap and federal savings related to the Affordable Care Act local contributions have been lowered for the first time since the program was started in 1966. This is historic. State lawmakers’ actions on juvenile justice will impact counties. Importantly, the budget eliminates any retroactive billings for placing troubled juveniles in state youth facilities. The Legislature also voted to increase state aid to community colleges, restore VLT funding, bolster support for emergency responses to train oil spills, boost local road funding, and extend the brownfields cleanup program. In all of areas of governance, counties are directly linked to the state. But we also deliver a wide range of quality of life programs at the local level. We deliver Meals on Wheels, provide workforce training, counsel addicts and crime victims, serve returning veterans, answer 9-1-1 calls, and respond to emergencies. Today, just as we were in 1684 when we were created, counties are regional governments responsible for balancing the requirements of the state with the needs of local residents. As county officials, we are expert at managing the challenges that arise from this relationship, and we—as your association—are proud of the work that as county officials you do on behalf of New Yorkers. 

Gil Strizich Legislative/Office Clerk Tammy Thomas Communication Assistant Receptionist Katy Vescio Deputy Director of Government Relations

Save T he Date 2015 Fall Seminar September 21-23, 2015 Crowne Plaza, Lake Placid

2016 Legislative Conference February 1-3, 2016 The Desmond Hotel, Albany  7


PUB L IS H ED 3 TIMES A YEAR President • Hon. Anthony Picente, Jr. Publisher • Stephen J. Acquario Managing Editor • Mark F. LaVigne Editor • Nicole Correia Staff Writers • Patrick Cummings, Katie Hohman, Mark LaVigne, Dave Lucas, Jeanette Stanziano, Gil Strizich, and Kathryn Vescio Advertising Staff • Juanita Munguia NYSAC’s mission is to represent, educate, advocate for, and serve member counties at the federal and state levels. Published 3 times a year by the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), NYSAC News is the official publication of NYSAC, a non-profit, municipal association serving the 57 counties of New York State and the City of New York with its five boroughs for 90 years.

NYSAC NEWS MAGAZINE 540 Broadway, 5th Floor, Albany, New York 12207 Phone • (518) 465-1473 Fax • (518) 465-0506 Send submissions to Submissions should be 750 to 1,000 words and include a high resolution photo of the author­. All submissions­are subject to editing for clarity, content and/or length. The advertisments and articles in NYSAC News in no way imply support or endorsement­by NYSAC for any of the products, services or messages conveyed herein. 2015© New York State Association of Counties


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Table of Contents

Spring/Summer 2015

NYSAC News •  Volume 36, Issue 2

NYSAC Informs with e-news publications: NYSAC Weekly Wire Emailed every Monday during the Legislative Session, the Weekly Wire highlights county-related issues and activities taking place in Albany. Counties in the News Daily news updates from counties across the state, compiled by NYSAC and delivered to your inbox every day. To sign up visit

Target Your Market!

Advertise with NYSAC

contact NYSAC Marketing Specialist Juanita Munguia at 518-465-1473 or

Cover Image : Lake Placid from Whiteface Mountain - courtesy of Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism/


NYSAC Takes Agricultural Issues to the Next Level


Medicaid Cap and Pension Reform: Real Progress in Mandate Relief


New York State’s Compassionate Care Act • Medical Marijuana

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NYSAC History, Part 2

Fall in the Adirondacks! Essex County Prepares for NYSAC’s 2015 Fall Seminar


Lyme Disease in New York State: Legislation for Prevention


Red Cross Programs Prepare New Yorkers for Common Emergencies


County Leaders Join Effort to Recognize National Service


Shared Water means Shared Services: Storm-Water Coalitions an Effective Measure for Managing Run-off


Water Without Borders: The Importance of Regional and Intermunicipal Water Resource Planning


Need to Make Expensive Upgrades to Your Water Infrastructure to Attract Economic Development or Satisfy Regulators?


A Small Water System’s Recovery from Natural Disaster: Case Study on the Village of Horseheads, NY


Creation of the Wyoming County Water Resource Agency


Farmers, Counties to EPA: Clarification Needed on Clean Water Act Regulations





A Tale of Two County Websites: Schuyler and Washington Counties Engage Citizens Using Technology NYMIR Introduces New Cyber Insurance Product


The Chemung River Critical to County’s Recreation, Tourism, Health, Economy, and Quality Of Life

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The New York State Canal System

“Re-plumbing” Watershed Drainage Networks: Capturing Rainfall to Buffer the Impacts of Flooding and Drought


County Soil & Water Districts Step It Up with Emergency Interventions

To HAB and to HAB Not: Harmful Algae Are Blooming in New York’s Waters

Sheriffs Do More Than Serve Warrants, Arrest Persons, and Run Jails!


2015 State Budget Protects and Enhances • NY’s Water Resources, Infrastructure


Sheriffs’ Marine Patrols Protect and Serve on the Water


Counsel’s Corner: Liquid Nicotine, Plastic Bags, and Chemicals in Children’s Products


NYSAC Takes Agricultural Issues to the Next Level By Kathryn Vescio NYSAC Deputy Director of Government Relations


n 2010, NYSAC members concerned about the future of New York’s farms came together to speak with one voice. As county leaders, and, in many cases, as farmers too, these individuals urged NYSAC leaders to create a special task force where county officials could convene, discuss issues impacting New York’s agricultural sector, and make recommendations that can impact farming and agriculture policies both in New York State and nationally. NYSAC’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Future of Farming was created by then NYSAC President and Chemung County Executive Hon. Thomas Santulli. The task force focused on issues such as farmland protection, farm labor, immigration, dairy pricing, and funding for key local agriculture programs. Officials and farmers representing over 28 different counties joined the task force to have a meaningful impact on New York’s struggling farming industry. Over the course of five years, the task force convened numerous times across the state, from Buffalo, Seneca Falls, Syracuse, Lake Placid, Albany, and even in New York City. These notable meetings presented important opportunities for education and collaboration. Roundtable discussions were held at Empire Farm Days to focus on timely issues and draw more attention to problems impacting farmers. A trip to Hunts Point Market in 2011 saw task force members face to face with sellers supplying produce to the largest marketplace in the Northeastern United States. This extraordinary trip provided task force members with the opportunity to discuss barriers to bringing more New York grown products to market at Hunts Point. The first “Blue Ribbon Task Force Report on the Future of Farming in New York State” was issued in September 2010 and called for state funding restoration for agriculture programs, as well as federal issues needing to be addressed in the Farm Bill. “Growing the Farm Economy,” the second

The Agriculture Standing Committee is just one of many NYSAC Standing Committees, which are essential to the development of NYSAC’s advocacy planning and efforts. Standing Committees meet at the Legislative Conference and Fall Seminar to develop, discuss and adopt the series of resolutions that go before the full county delegation. The passed resolutions become the basis of NYSAC’s legislative program for the coming year. If you are interested in being a member of one of NYSAC’s standing committees, call NYSAC’s office at 518-465-1473 or visit to download the nominating form.

Task Force report, issued in November 2011, focused on the economic impact of farming in New York. This report called for the agricultural sector to play a more prominent role in Regional Economic Development Councils and reiterated a call for a federal Farm Bill that addressed New York’s unique agricultural needs. The final Task Force report, “Promoting Agriculture in Your County,” showcased stories from around the state, featuring new ways to engage the public or key policy makers about issues important to farming. The report was designed to help county leaders learn new ways to promote farming and agriculture locally. Each of these reports focused on salient problems affecting farms and farmers and drew the attention of state and federal policymakers to important issues. The work of the task force members made an impression in Albany and Washington, spurring meetings and roundtable events to discuss the volatility in milk pricing, barriers to accessing reliable farm labor, and the need for crop insurance programs, among many other topics. The 2015/16 State Budget was an enormous leap forward for agriculture. For the first time, the state devoted a record amount of funding for farmland preservation--$15 million in funding for New York’s Farmland Protection Program from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), an increase of $1 million over the 2014/15 budget year allocation, and $20 million in a special allocation for the permanent protection of farmland in the Hudson Valley. This sizeable increase in state funding for farmland protection will be subject to appropriation yet again in the 2016/17 budget, and advocacy will be necessary to ensure this was not a onetime increase but remains a sustained commitment to protecting farmland. As NYSAC convenes in Lake Placid for the 2015 Fall Seminar, former members of the Blue Ribbon Task Force will come together and meet for the first time as Agriculture Standing Committee Members. A change to NYSAC’s bylaws at the 2015 Legislative Conference enabled the creation of this new Standing Committee to formally give agriculture issues a permanent place on NYSAC’s policy agenda. In the months and years ahead, as New York State farms continue to set the state apart as a leader in agricultural production, NYSAC will continue to advocate on behalf of counties and our farming communities to ensure that this vital sector of our economy remains strong and sustainable. As Task Force Chair and Wyoming County Chair Doug Berwanger said at the inaugural meeting of the Task Force, ”Our Task Force members are on the front lines. We understand the challenges facing farmers and their contribution to state and local governments across the state, and we are coming together to do something about assisting them. Together, we believe we can have a real impact on state and local policy affecting this industry.”  13

Medicaid Cap and Pension Reform: Real Progress in Mandate Relief By Dave Lucas NYSAC Director of Finance & Intergovernmental Affairs


f lowering property taxes in New York State was akin to building a monument there would be varying opinions on what we have built so far. Some would say we have nothing more than a hole in the ground. Others may say we have built a very nice monument. Still others may say we have laid the cornerstone and construction is ready to proceed. In truth, New York has not lowered property taxes, but it has slowed the rate of growth. For most of the last 50 years, New York State has been at or near the top of the list of states with the highest tax burden per capita. While comparing tax burdens across states, especially on a per capita basis, could lead to some mischaracterization, it is pretty clear that this is not a list any state wants to be on top of -- especially for decades! While some will quibble over the exact cause of high property taxes, a major contributing factor is that New York State, as a matter of public policy, uses property taxes to support a wide variety of state initiatives and public policy goals. A recent study by The Pew Charitable Trusts shows that New York State gets more than 15 % of its revenue from local governments to fund and implement services. The average for the remaining 49 states is 0.8 %. By a factor of nearly 20 times, New York relies more than any other state on local government revenues to support state services and public policy goals. This is why our property taxes are 80 % above the national average. For decades, Governors and state legislative leaders have wrung their hands over the high property tax burden in New York. In fits and starts, they have focused on reducing the state reliance on local revenues to pay for state programs. However, these efforts were not long lived, as new mandates were created, existing programs were expanded, and the many statutory promises to take more fiscal accountability over state programs never materialized.

Recent Actions May Lead to Real Change While the state’s history in dealing with high property taxes has been lacking, recent actions are providing glimmers of hope. Given the magnitude of the problem it should be expected that fostering real change will take a long time. At the root, high spending causes high taxes, regardless of who is paying the bill (the state or local governments). The Great Recession exposed the state’s habit of overspending, and it was forced to change. Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature have begun reversing decades of overspending. Five consecutive on-time budgets have each come in below two % growth, showing a commitment to budgeting in a more sustainable way. The enactment of the state revenue cap on local governments (a.k.a. the property tax cap) was supposed to be part of a two-pronged attempt to address high property taxes. The second piece was mandate relief for local governments (meaning, the state would either take more fiscal responsibility for their own programs, or they would reform them so they would be less costly, or both). While the kind of mandate relief local governments have been hoping for has not yet come – the kind that will allow for the reduction of property taxes for today’s levels, not just slowing the rate of growth – the State has taken some important steps toward increasing their own fiscal responsibility and reforming high cost programs.

Medicaid Financing Reform For counties, the biggest mandate reform has been the imposition of a cap on local costs for Medicaid. New York State requires counties to pay $7.2 billion each year for the state’s Medicaid program. To make this clear, each week counties and NYC send $140 million in local taxes to State bank accounts, so they can pay for Medicaid bills. Counties in New York spend more on Medicaid than all the counties in the rest of the nation combined. These are big numbers and they have big impacts on local property taxpayers. The positive thing is that the state capped the growth in local Medicaid costs to no more than three % per year beginning in 2005, and beginning in 2015 these costs will no longer grow.

For Medicaid, the State has taken more fiscal responsibility for their program. This is a good thing because it improves accountability to the tax payer and the entity that controls the program must now take responsibility for the fiscal consequences. Implementing these growth caps was not easy or cheap for the State. When the state took on more responsibility for their program they realized they could not afford it. This lead to the next positive outcome–the State began to fundamentally reform its Medicaid program to make it more efficient, effective and affordable. Had this Medicaid cap not been imposed, local taxes would have to be much higher than they are today—by billions of dollars. The Medicaid fiscal and program reforms taken by the State mean the program will be more sustainable for years to come and reduces pressure on future property tax growth significantly.

Pension Reform Another major reform State Leaders took on recently was modifying the pension system for state and local public employees. Under State law, all local governments must participate in the state designed system. The Great Recession created huge losses in the public employee pension system and annual contributions from local governments quadrupled in just a few years. These costs impacted the state as an employer as well, so they were incentivized to create a more balanced system while retaining a generous pension benefit for employees. The State’s creation of a new pension tier will cut nearly in half the annual pension costs for each new employee hired and will reduce future costs for the state and local governments by tens of billions of dollars in the coming decades. It may have taken a once-in-many-generations fiscal crisis to force change, but the change, for now, seems to be sticking. The Governor and state legislature continue to be very careful not to impose new costs on local governments and have proven they can implement significant reforms that many thought were impossible. We are making progress, but we have a long way to go. The foundation is being built so we can get to the next phase of government reforms that will continue to improve fiscal accountability and provide a real opportunity to actually cut property taxes from current levels.  15

New York State’s Compassionate Care Act Medical Marijuana


he Compassionate Care Act, a new law that creates the State’s first medical marijuana program, passed the Legislature on June 20th and was signed into law on July 7th in 2014 by Governor Cuomo. This new law regulates the manufacture, sale and use of medical marijuana. The act was created to relieve the pain and suffering of those with serious diseases, while ensuring proper safeguards from the misuse of the drug. The law was written to maintain discretion to physicians to prescribe in accordance with regulatory requirements set forth by the Commissioner of the Department of Health (DOH).

By Katie Hohman NYSAC Program Specialist

The serious conditions for which medical marijuana can be prescribed include: cancer, HIV/AIDS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Parkinsons Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, damage to nerve tissue of the spinal cord with neurological indication on intractable spasticity, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, and Huntingtons Disease, as well as any additional condition authorized by the DOH commissioner.

Administration of Medical Marijuana The law puts into place a process for registered manufacturers to produce and dispense medical marijuana. Organizations seeking to manufacture or distribute medical marijuana must be authorized by the DOH and conform to a specific list of requirements. The law allows for five registered organizations that can operate up to four dispensaries statewide. In order to ensure patient access, medical marijuana dispensing facilities will be geographically dispersed throughout the state. The DOH will carefully monitor patient needs to ensure appropriate access. Registrations will be valid for two years at a time. All manufacturing and dispensing of medical marijuana will take place in the State. Registered organizations will be able to dispense medical marijuana to individuals who present a DOH registry identification card. The organization will not be able to dispense an amount greater than a 30 day supply. According to the DOH regulations, medical marijuana will be available in liquid and oil preparations for administration with the use of a tube; metered liquid or oil preparations for vaporization; and capsule form. Edible food products must be approved by the DOH commissioner, and patients will not under any circumstance be allowed to smoke the medical marijuana.

Practitioner Eligibility

Distribution of Tax

In order to prescribe medical marijuana, a doctor must be licensed to practice in New York State, and be qualified to treat any of the ten serious conditions. They must complete a four-hour course that addresses methods of prescribing medical marijuana, its usage and other related factors. Once the practitioner provides the appropriate documentation and completes the coursework they will be issued a registration from the DOH to issue patient prescriptions.

The law puts in place a 7% excise tax on every sale of medical marijuana by a registered organization to a certified patient or designated caregiver. Proceeds from the excise tax will be collected in a special account managed by the state comptroller, and will be allocated in the following manner: 22.5% to the county in the State where the medical marijuana was manufactured; 22.5% to the county in the State where the medical marijuana was dispensed; 5% to the State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services to be used for additional drug abuse prevention, counseling, and treatment services; and 5% to the Division of Criminal Justice Services to support law enforcement measures related to this law.

Patient Eligibility Medical marijuana will be made available to those who have received a Registry Identification Card issued by the DOH. In order to obtain a registration card patients and caregivers must submit a valid application, a written certification, and a fee of up to $50 to the DOH. The patient will then have to go to a physician that too has been certified by the DOH to prescribe medical marijuana as a form of treatment.

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Criminal Penalties for Abuse of Medical Marijuana The law creates a new felony for doctors who issue a certification with reasonable grounds to know a person has no medical need for it or the person will not be using it to treat a qualifying serious medical condition. The law also creates a new misdemeanor for any person who delivers medical marijuana to someone with reasonable grounds to believe the person is not registered. Another misdemeanor is created for a patient or caregiver who keeps more marijuana than the allotted amount. The DOH allowed for a public comment period which began in October of 2014. The Department issued proposed regulations on December 31, 2014. The regulations created by the DOH were finalized on March 31, 2015 and were formally adopted on April 15, 2015. The DOH provided the application and timetable for selecting registered organizations on their website in April. The application will detail the timeline for review and selection, and is available at

NYSAC History, Part 2: The Middle Years


he New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) was created in the 1920, during a time of rapid social, economic and political change in New York State and the nation (see NYSAC’s Early Days, Winter 2015). The association was created to help member county officials respond to many of those changes through training and advocacy programs. Over the next 70 years, the Association evolved with our membership. We still focused on training and education, but the issues and challenges that members faced became more complex and critical to the quality of life for millions of New Yorkers on a day-to-day basis. As our membership became specialized, so did the number of associations affiliated with counties. Our public health responsibilities fostered the creation of the New York State Association of County Health Officials. The focus on mental health and addictions services prompted the Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors. In these years, dozens of associations were created to serve the needs of specific county officials. We have associations for community college presidents, county executives, county administrators and managers, clerks, sheriffs, DA’s, workforce training professionals, and several others. NYSAC works closely with these associations, and a number of them have, over the decades, consolidated under the NYSAC umbrella. Between the 1920 and the 1990s one thing remained consistent. This association represented the expanding needs of our members. Whether we were developing educational seminars, implementing grants for state agencies, or advocating for more resources or flexibility, the association has been a steadfast leader for counties in Albany, Washington and in the home counties of members across the state. In the 1950’s, recognizing that the association was an extension of the counties we serve, the State Comptroller placed association staff members in the State Local Retirement System, and our staff members remain members of the State pension system today.

The Devolution and Complication of County Governments in NY When counties were first created, before the state of New York was established, we were empowered to build and maintain our infrastructure, care for those in need, provide nursing home care and workhouses for those unemployed or unable to care for themselves. The act of thinking and acting locally prevailed. We did have responsibilities for the British Crown, but we had local responsibilities and we acted locally using local resources. The U.S. Constitution, which was created in the late 1700s did not account for counties, but the New York State constitution did. The state constitution delineated the powers and authority of counties and other local government.

By Mark LaVigne NYSAC Deputy Director

The original constitution vested all authority in boards of supervisors, consisting of centrally-elected town leaders. All powers are to be exercised through local law or resolution. County boards must elect a chair, to which it would delegate administrative duties on its behalf. The constitution made no provision for an elected executive. However, since that time, counties have become far more complex governmental organizations. We have increasingly become more an arm of the state, while struggling to maintain our responsibilities as a general purpose local government. As our role and responsibilities have become more complex, the state has empowered citizens to adopt a governance structure that works most effectively for local purposes. Since 1900, voters in more than 20 counties have adopted unique charter forms of government. Eighteen counties have a centrally-elected executive. Four have instituted a professional management structure. A critical juncture in the devolution of county government come in the 1960s, when Governor Nelson Rockefeller adopted the federal government’s Medicaid public health insurance program and required counties to pay half of the state’s share. At that time, counties across the state paid $112 million for Medicaid. In 2014, counties paid more than $7.4 billion to the State for Medicaid. Since the State instituted the Medicaid mandate in 1966, the State has passed on responsibility for the full range of federal health and human service programs, including welfare, food stamps and child welfare programs. The administration and finance responsibilities of county governments grew dramatically, as did our workforces, budgets, and reliance on property taxes to fund the expansion of state mandated programs and services. Indigent legal defense, which the Supreme Court decided was the responsibility of state governments, was passed down to counties by New York State Lawmakers. With the increasing decentralization of state services counties expenses have soared and while services vary from county to county; New York’s counties offer vast services compared to the rest of the nation. While the original counties almost exclusively provided emergency services the scope of county services has grown to include: education, health, transportation and roads, care for the elderly, economic assistance, culture and recreation, courts, jails and more. The increase in county services has also brought an increase in county expenses. The expenses of county governments rose from $5.5 billion in 1980 to $16.4 billion in 2003. Look for Part 3 of NYSAC’s History in the next NYSAC News.

Fall in the Adirondacks! Essex County Prepares for NYSAC’s Fall Seminar By Jeanette Stanziano Director of Education & Training


his September, NYSAC returns to beautiful Essex County to celebrate its 90th anniversary and 2015 Fall Seminar. The picturesque mountain Village of Lake Placid, nestled in the scenic High Peaks of the Adirondacks, will once again host the counties’ annual educational expo on September 21 through 23 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Hundreds of county officials from across the state will flock to Lake Placid, which is world renowned as one of the jewels of the Adirondacks and also as the legendary site of two winter Olympics. Historic Essex County is an unspoiled region known for its bucolic mountain vistas of natural beauty and many small main street communities that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Essex was once the go-to destination for what was known as the “cool that cures.” The Adirondack tradition of revitalizing peoples’ health and well-being began in the late 1800s when Dr. E.L. Trudeau recognized that the mountainous environment seemed to provide a cure for tuberculosis. The development of a cure for the disease in the 1950s slowed the rush to mountain cures to a close, yet Saranac Lake’s wellness movement continues, and many of its cure cottages and porches remain open to the public for tours.

eliminating acid rain and other related issues. The protection of Essex County’s natural resources benefits both residents and visitors alike and spawned the ecoproperty movement. Now, three of the highest rated eco-sustainable properties in the country can be found in the Adirondack Park. Gauthier’s Saranac Lake Inn, Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort in Lake Placid, and Hohmeyer’s Lodge on Lake Clear each have been awarded Audubon International Platinum ratings in ecofriendly facilities. Experience Essex County and join us as NYSAC returns to Lake Placid for three days of timely educational programs, networking opportunities, and professional keynote sessions developed exclusively for county officials. Training topics will include broadband, JCOPE ethics training, Pre-K/EI, public safety, alternative energy, succession planning, media communications, cyber security, medical marijuana, procurement, and aging to name just a few. NYSAC will also offer a series of Pelletier Institute workshops as well as a full slate of affiliate and NYSAC Standing Committee sessions. Watch for the 2015 Fall Seminar flyer in your mailbox at the end of June for complete details. Join NYSAC in continuing its year of celebration honoring 90 years as the voice of New York’s counties.  (Facts and statistics provided by the Lake Placid/Essex County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Photos courtesy of Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism/

Essex County’s Adirondack community was also home to the “Great Camp” tradition which began in the late 19th century soon after the publication of William H.H. Murray’s “Adventures in the Wilderness” in 1869. Murray’s book put the Adirondack Mountains and Essex County on the map as a tourist destination; grand hotels were built and the rich and famous from around the world were soon spending their summers in the mountains. Visit Great Camp Sagamore on Raquette Lake or Camp Santanoni in Newcomb for a glimpse into the past. The Adirondacks enjoy a long history of environmental leadership and vision. The Blue Line that defines the boundaries of the Adirondack Park was established in 1892 in order to protect timber and water resources. Groups from the Adirondacks have had an important role in the establishment of national and statewide legislation aimed at

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The NYSAC Legislative Standing Committee met on the terrace with a view of the Adirondacks the last time the Fall Seminar was in Lake Placid, in 2012.

Lake P lacid

Essex County  19

Lyme Disease in New York State: Legislation for Prevention By Katie Hohman NYSAC Program Specialist


yme disease is a bacterial infection spread through the bite of infected ticks. The blacklegged deer tick is primarily responsible for the spread of the disease in the northeastern part of the United States. The natural bacterium that causes Lyme disease is Borrelia, it circulates between small animals such as mice and the ticks feed on them. Ticks then spread the disease to humans and pets. Lyme disease was first discovered in New York State on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley region. However, in recent years, the number of Lyme and tick-borne disease cases have spread to the northern and western areas of the state. New York currently has the highest number of reported (confirmed) cases of Lyme disease in the United States. According to the New York State Department of Health, over 95,000

Is that a tick on you or on your pet? What kind of tick? Cornell Cooperative Extension has developed a free app called “TickClick” to download to your phone or tablet that will identify types of ticks and what health risks are associated with it. It includes pictures of various types of ticks at different stages of their lifespan. The app provides information on safe removal and destruction of ticks and information on precautions to take with your pet and for yourself. TickClick provides a chart explaining the most common tick-borne diseases and what type of insects transmits each disease. The app was developed with money from an $8,000 grant awarded to Cornell’s Agricultural Program by the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program. It is a free app, available for both Android and iPhones.

cases have been confirmed in New York State since 1986, and 7,587 cases of Lyme were diagnosed in 2013. The possibility of being bitten by a deer tick is greater during specific times of the year when ticks are most active. Young deer ticks, called nymphs, are active from mid-May to mid-August and are about the size of poppy seeds. Adult ticks, which are approximately the size of sesame seeds, are most active from March to mid-May and from mid-August to November. Both nymphs and adults can transmit Lyme disease. Ticks can be active any time the temperature is above freezing, and due to the unusually harsh winter, the abundant and long-lasting snow cover likely provided insulation to allow ticks to survive through this past winter. Diagnosis of Lyme disease takes into account the following factors: history of possible exposure to ticks in areas where Lyme disease is known to occur; signs and symptoms of the illness; and the results of blood tests used to detect whether the patient has antibodies to Lyme disease bacteria. While the impact of Lyme disease is widespread, a large number of cases remain unreported or undiagnosed. The Center for Disease Control (CDC), as of 2012, estimates nearly 30,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year, however, only 10,000 cases are actually reported. The New York State Department of Health has also begun investigating other tick-borne diseases that are of concern to the public health of NYS residents, including, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF). These other illnesses usually result in fever, muscle aches, weakness and/or headaches. The RMSF results in sudden onset of moderate to high fever (which can last for two or three weeks), severe headache, fatigue, deep muscle pain, chills and rash. The rash begins on the legs or arms, may include the soles of the feet or palms of the hands and may spread rapidly to the trunk or rest of the body.

Legislative Combat The New York State Senate created the Coalition Task Force on Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease in October of 2013. The task force was created to improve prevention, diagnosis, and treatment to assist NYS residents, as well as make recommendations for the development of a State Action plan by the DOH to address Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease in New York. Continued on page 21

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Continued from page 20

In the New York State budget in 2014-15, $100,000 was allocated for the creation of the 21st Century Work Group for disease elimination and reduction. A bill was later passed by both Houses of the Legislature and signed into law to create the work group. The new law specifically requires a study of the severity, frequency of occurrence and likelihood of reoccurrence, existing animal vaccines and potential human vaccines for various diseases including Lyme disease.

The Governor, the Legislature and the Department of Health have collectively worked together to provide state officials, local officials and residents with the information needed in regards to Lyme disease and the prevention of Lyme and Tick Borne Diseases. Information can be found on the Department of Health website ( communicable/lyme/). 

In May 2014 both Houses of the Legislature passed a resolution proclaiming May 2014 as Lyme Disease Awareness Month in New York State. In the resolution, the Legislature called on the CDC to reevaluate its guidance on Lyme and other tick-borne disease; and called on the National Institute of Health, Department of Defense, and other federal agencies to provide more funding for these diseases in light of the high number of cases found each year. In February of 2015, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos appointed Senator Sue Serino, a former Dutchess County Legislator as Chair of the Senate Task Force on Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases. Senator Serino stated, “She will provide the leadership to continue to the Senate’s efforts to prevent the disease from affecting others and help those already afflicted.”  21

Red Cross Programs Prepare New Yorkers for Common Emergencies By Elizabeth Briand Director of State Relations, American Red Cross of New York State


his year, the American Red Cross has helped more people affected by home fires than all other disasters combined. In New York State, volunteers in more than 600 cities and towns responded at all hours of the day and night with food, blankets and comfort to help people with nowhere else to turn. For the first 11 months of 2014, the Red Cross provided assistance to more than 13,000 fire victims in New York, and provided financial support to a total of 3,885 households in the state to help replace belongings lost to fires. Nationally, the Red Cross responds to a disaster in the community every eight minutes and the vast majority of these are home fires. “While tornadoes, floods and hurricanes tend to dominate the headlines, people often underestimate the frequency and devastation caused by home fires, and that’s where the Red Cross comes in,” said Elizabeth Briand, Director of State Relations for the American Red Cross in New York State. “Our work doesn’t end after the smoke clears. Every day local volunteers are helping people recover and get better prepared.” As part of their effort to better prepare individuals and families across the state, the Red Cross has partnered with Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to offer free Citizen Preparedness Corps training sessions statewide. Recognizing that New York State is at a high risk for man-made, technological and natural disasters, the Citizen Preparedness Corps training program teaches state residents how to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters of all kinds, particularly those that are common in New York. Free, in-person Citizen Preparedness Corps training sessions are offered frequently by local Red Cross chapters across the state and most sessions are open to the public. Free training can also be scheduled for private groups, and an online training option is now available as well.

much as 25 % over the next five years. The campaign focuses on joining forces with local fire departments and community groups nationwide to install smoke alarms in communities with high numbers of fires and to encourage families everywhere to practice their fire escape plans. “Installing smoke alarms cuts the risk of someone dying in a home fire in half,” said Briand. “Across New York, we’re working closely with many local partners to get this message out there, teach people about fire safety, and install smoke alarms where we know there are people who need them.” Reinforcing the need for the Red Cross home fire preparedness campaign is a national survey* which shows that many Americans have a false sense of security about surviving a fire. The survey, conducted for the Red Cross, shows that people mistakenly be lie ve th e y h a ve more time than they really do to escape a burning home. Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out, but most Americans (62%) mistakenly believe they have at least five minutes to escape. Nearly one in five (18%) believe they have ten minutes or more. When asked about their confidence levels in actually escaping a burning home, roughly four in ten of those polled (42%) believed they could get out in two minutes.

In addition to improving general preparedness across the state, the Red Cross has recognized the critical need for focused home fire preparedness efforts, given the frequency and the impact of home fires on New York residents on a daily basis. Not only do home fires cause significant material losses; seven times a day, someone in the United States dies in a fire.

While 69 % of parents believe their children would know what to do or how to escape with little help, the survey found that many families had not taken necessary steps to support that level of confidence.

This October, the American Red Cross announced a new campaign to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires across the country by as

 Less than half of parents (48%) have talked to their families about fire safety.

 Less than one in five families with children age 3-17 (18%) report that they’ve actually practiced home fire drills.

Continued on page 24  23

Continued from page 23

 Only one third of families with children (30%) have identified a safe place to meet outside their home. In an effort to improve these statistics, Red Cross chapters across New York State launched their home fire preparedness campaign efforts on October 11, 2014. At kick off events in numerous communities identified as having a high risk of home fires, Red Cross volunteers along with local government leaders, fire departments, neighborhood associations and other community groups installed hundreds of smoke alarms for local residents and spent time teaching people how to be prepared if a fire should break out in their home.

*The national public opinion survey was conducted for the Red Cross July 17-20, 2014 using ORC International’s Online CARAVAN omnibus survey. The study was conducted among a national sample of 1,130 American adults, including 311 parents of children aged 3-17. The total sample is balanced to be representative of the US adult population in terms of age, sex, geographic region, race and education. The margin of error for the total sample of 1,130 adults is +/- 2.92 %. The margin of error for the sample of 311 parents is +/- 5.56 %. 

Through both the Citizen Preparedness Corps training and Home Fire Campaign, Red Cross staff and volunteers are working to build a safer, more prepared New York. To learn more about how your county can get involved with the Red Cross, Citizen Preparedness Corps training opportunities or to get involved in the home fire preparedness campaign, contact Elizabeth Briand at

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County Leaders Join Effort to Recognize National Service By Jessica Vasquez NY State Program Director, Corporation for National and Community Service


n Erie County, more than 900 Senior Corps volunteers serve through the Erie County RSVP program, where they tutor students, beautify county parks, deliver meals, and offer lifelong education services through University Express. Last year, RSVP volunteers offered 40 courses for 1520 students making lifelong learning for older adults accessible in WNY.

The County Day of Recognition for National Service, part of County Government Month, was announced at NACo’s annual legislation conference in Washington D.C. The effort is a partnership between NACo and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and other programs.

Across the nation, county leaders and other local officials participated in a variety of activities on April 7, including visiting national service programs, hosting roundtables, issuing proclamations, and communicating about national service through social media. Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks gave remarks and issued a proclamation along with Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren. More than 55 fullTwo hundred seniors in Putnam Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino recognizing the service of time AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps County have been able to the RSVP and Foster Grandparent Programs. VISTA members, and 900 partlive independently because time Senior Corps volunteers serve of the availability of medical in Rochester and Monroe County transportation provided by the Putnam County providing vital support in education, poverty, RSVP program. and youth services. AmeriCorps members serving through the Genesee County Youth Bureau AmeriCorps program last year provided disconnected youth with opportunities to serve in AmeriCorps. Eighteen disconnected youth members and six mentors worked in a variety of different host sites to provide services in health and nutrition.

Saratoga County RSVP provided meals to homebound seniors to more than 400 county residents. In Sullivan County, the County RSVP program delivered approximately 55,000 meals to 380 homebound individuals.

Why a County Day? By shining the spotlight on the impact of service and thanking those who serve, county officials hope to inspire more residents to get involved in their communities.

These are just a few examples of how New York’s counties are using AmeriCorps and Senior Corps to meet local needs and strengthen their communities. To highlight this impact, county officials across the state participated in a day of recognition on April 7, 2015, to shine the spotlight on AmeriCorps and Senior Corps and thank individuals who serve.

Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks issued an RSVP proclamation.

“County leaders work hard every day to get things done and respond to the needs of their constituents,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “They know first-hand the value of national service. We are pleased to partner with county leaders to strengthen service efforts in their counties.” Continued on page 26  25

Continued from page 25

CNCS annually engages more than 5 million citizens in service at 60,000 sites across the country through its programs. While most national service members serve through nonprofits, counties are eligible to sponsor AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs, and many do. National service programs provide a variety of services, including supporting food banks and homeless shelters, restoring parks, strengthening public safety and juvenile justice services, tutoring and mentoring students, and managing other volunteers. Given the many social needs in communities—and the fiscal constraints facing government at all levels—national service and volunteerism are smart strategies to meet local needs. By joining this national day of recognition on April 7, county leaders not only said thanks for a job well done, they encouraged more citizens to get involved. Learn more at or reach out to the NY State Program Director Jessica Vasquez at 518-649-8043 or 

National Service Programs Administered By NY Counties County Office


# of Participants

Foster Grandparent


Cattaraugus County Dept of Aging



Cortland County Legislature



Erie County Dept of Senior Services





Genesee County Office for the Aging



Greene County Dept for the Aging



Livingston County Office for the Aging

Foster Grandparent


Madison County Office for the Aging



Orange County Office for the Aging



Oswego City-County Youth Bureau



Oswego City-County Youth Bureau

AmeriCorps (Economic Development)


Putnam County Office for the Aging



Saratoga County Office for the Aging



Steuben County Office for Aging



Sullivan County Legislature



Foster Grandparent


Broome County Office for Aging

Genesee County Youth Bureau

*NYC Dept for the Aging

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A Tale of Two County Websites

Schuyler and Washington Counties Use Technology to Engage Citizens By Anj Marie Riffel CivicPlus


eginning this tale with “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” may be a bit melodramatic. However, it’s not a stretch to say that this is indeed a story of transformation. It’s the story of how two very different New York counties found themselves in similar places, realizing that, in order to keep up with the times and communicate effectively with the communities they serve, they had to revolutionize their dated, inefficient government websites.

that of Schuyler County. Even though the two counties had individual needs, at the heart of both was a desire to serve their citizens better. Washington County’s Director of IT, Karen Pratt, said their previous website provided a lot of information, but it wasn’t organized well. “We were limited by the tool we were using previously,” she said. “It was difficult for the visitor to navigate the site and find the information they were looking for.”

If you find yourself at a crossroads where the roar of waterfalls meets the roar of NASCAR, you just might be standing in Schuyler County, NY. Residents and visitors alike find plenty to explore within the county’s picturesque landscape of rolling hills, glistening lakes, and beautiful parks. And if that weren’t enough, there’s a full calendar of events and festivals, as well as unique shops, wineries, and distilleries to enjoy year round.

When both counties concluded it was time for a transformation, they turned to CivicPlus, a company that specializes in building interactive government websites that are easy to maintain and update – even for non-tech-savvy employees.

Peggy Tomassi of the County Administrator’s office said she would describe Schuyler County as community-oriented. “People here get involved,” she said. “They take part in the community and what goes on with it – the vision making. We’re just close-knit. We’re all volunteers. We rely on each other, knowing that we all help each other.” Embracing that community spirit, Schuyler County recognized that it wanted to help citizens by making its services more accessible and readily available. In 2012, the county began to recognize that it was missing an opportunity to connect the community though their website.

Tomassi said this new website solution has been just what they were hoping for. “We have the ability to decide what goes on, to make the changes ourselves, to take off what we want, to have fun and be creative,” she said. Other departments have gotten in on the action as well, so the workload is shared. Tomassi said the new system has been easy for most employees to learn. “Some departments have needed very little assistance,” she said. “Our Public Health Department, for instance, has just gone crazy with’s really nice to see! They’ve added pages. It’s interactive. They’ve gotten so much information out there about public health.”

“Our previous website simply listed information and was not very interactive,” Tomassi said. “We were not able to allow users to access forms and services from the comfort of their home, as opposed to having to come in to our offices. Chief among our goals was to provide that service for our users…not only increasing convenience, but efficiency in how we operate.”

Washington County relays a similar experience. “One of our goals during our transition, or rebranding of our site,” Pratt said, “was to engage our departmental owners. Each department was able to consult one-on-one and explore ideas on how they could deliver content to the citizen, engaging and encouraging more two-way communication, as well as providing a clear and easy means for the visitor to find the requested information.”

Additionally, the site was maintained by a third-party provider, which made it challenging for the county to see their visions for the site fully realized. It also made it more difficult to keep the site information updated. “It could sometimes be frustrating,” said Tomassi. “[The webmaster] did his best with trying to grab our ideas and our vision, but things didn’t always come out the way we envisioned. Since we weren’t hands-on, we couldn’t do it ourselves.”

Sharing current, relevant information in a way that’s easy to access is a goal both counties were hoping to accomplish with their new sites. Tomassi reports that Schuyler County is now able to house 75% more information and keep it easily updated. They’re able to post job descriptions and duties, allow departments and groups with permission to reserve meeting rooms in county buildings, post meeting information, and more.

About 250 miles to the northeast, Washington County was experiencing a similar dilemma. The county is largely agricultural in nature and has no cities within its borders, yet its population is much larger than

“Being a government, we wanted to be transparent to our community and I think we’ve done that,” Tomassi said. “Getting legislative meeting information out to the community is done instantaneously. And having Continued on page 28  27

Continued from page 27

the ability to reserve rooms on the website has been huge. It helped with staffing because that duty used to take a lot of time to coordinate.” In addition to increased efficiency, they’ve also noticed that they aren’t spending time fielding as many routine phone calls, yet have seen a boost in community engagement. “I really like that the community can go to the website and sign up for notifications or search for what they want to know more about,” said Tomassi. “Now we simply send people to the website because the information’s there. I feel that we have gone above and beyond to be as transparent as possible.” Washington County has enjoyed the benefits of their new site as well. “The feedback from our community has been very positive,” said Pratt. “The visitor can subscribe to items such as meeting minutes, calendar items, and social media feeds – very much engaging the citizen with county business. The citizen can also easily be made aware of any emergency postings, bridge and road closures, or items of this nature.” Schuyler County is now looking to take it to the next level. Using the latest technology advances, they want to make it even easier for citizens to access the information and services they want online, anytime. Tomassi said they’re hoping to offer live video and an excellent mobile experience for their users in the future. “Our website serves not only our county government, but our county as a whole,” she said. “It’s kind of a one stop shop– come to our website and find whatever you want to know about Schuyler County.” According to Pratt, Washington County isn’t sitting still either. They’re proud of what they’ve built, but looking toward continued progress. “Our website enables us to bring to the visitor the beauty of our landscape, special events for our citizens, and news items of interest, all in a well-organized, easy to find manner – whether they are on a desktop computer or mobile device,” she said. “We look forward to the continued partnership with CivicPlus, and further implementation of other features to engage our community.” About CivicPlus: For more than a decade, CivicPlus has been helping local, county, and state governments large and small use technology solutions to connect communities and serve citizens across the US, Canada, and Australia. 

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NYMIR Introduces Cyber Insurance Product By Kevin Crawford NYMIR Executive Director


ou can’t turn on today’s news and not hear about a recent “cyber attack” happening somewhere in the country involving an unauthorized or accidental release of personal information, personal correspondence, or other embarrassing documents. While most of these attacks target large businesses, local governments are not immune. Local governments have the responsibility to maintain documents from cradle to grave (birth certificates to death certificates) making them a desirable target for identity theft. In addition, they also maintain records that include dates of birth, driver’s license numbers, home addresses, financial information, health information and other sensitive documents for both employees and the general public. It is also true that not all cyber breaches are initiated for the purpose of stealing personal identification. Some of these breaches may be for the purposes of causing disruption to operations or retaliation for perceived transgressions to individuals or groups.

addition, coverage will include $50,000 to cover costs incurred by a municipality as a result of a security breach from its IT systems. Expense reimbursements could include: data restoration and data re-creation for lost data, system restoration, expenses associated with notifying affected parties (to comply with notification requirements now imposed by law) and credit monitoring costs. These funds may also be used to pay for services of a professional public relations firm if needed to assist you in communicating with the public regarding your response to the breach. The cost to members for this newly-introduced coverage will range from $300 to $2750 based on the size of your municipality. NYMIR will also be working with our members to create and implement policy and procedures to reduce and prevent data breach incidents. In the meantime, if you have any questions please feel free to contact Susan O’Rorke at 518-437-1171 ext. 307. 

As the amount of information collected by local governments increases, the responsibility for protecting this information and the consequences for not doing so have similarly grown. In response to this developing concern, NYMIR introduced the “Personal Identity Injury Endorsement” in 2012. This endorsement provided coverage for litigation faced by local governments as a result of misappropriation of personal identification information. It was provided to all members at no additional charge. The limits provided were the full limit of the General Liability and the Excess (Umbrella) limits carried by the municipality. In addition to that coverage now provided automatically to all members via the 2012 personal identity endorsement, beginning in June 2015 NYMIR will begin offering Cyber Coverage. This coverage will be an endorsement to the General Liability Policy and will broaden coverage for defense and payment of liability claims brought by injured third parties due to a security breach. In  29


The Chemung River Critical to County’s Recreation, Tourism, Health, Economy, and Quality Of Life By Tom Santulli Chemung County Executive


or years, the Chemung River in Chemung County was seen as a dirty waterway, a flood threat, and a barrier dividing communities.

But the public’s attitude changed in 2009 when Chemung County residents began to see the 45-mile waterway as a natural community asset that can improve our environment, economy and quality of life. That change in public attitude encouraged the county to form a 2008 consortium of municipalities, nonprofit groups and other river-related organizations to establish a regional grass-roots river-development network. That study resulted in a River Trail Assessment & Comprehensive Master Plan for river use, development and protection. The plan was developed by Chemung County, the city of Elmira, and the towns of Chemung, Southport, Elmira and Big Flats. Unfortunately, there was no river-development entity to make the plan a reality. That’s why Chemung County helped form the nonprofit organization, “Friends of the Chemung River Watershed (River Friends),” in 2009. Under the direction of Jim Pfiffer, River Friends uses the plan as a roadmap to make the most of our waterways and to encourage the public to respect, protect and enjoy our rivers for recreation, education and for a convenient connection with nature. The county, the city of Elmira, and the four riverside towns agreed to help finance the start-up of River Friends. Today, the group is supported by membership, business, and municipal funds.

Now the river is the center of regional recreation including guided paddles, fishing, riverside hikes, cross-country ski trips, bird watching, nature photography and river festivals. River Friends has partnered with a new Elmira Charter School to use the river as a hands-on environmental classroom and source of expeditionary learning. The community is discovering and accepting its role in protecting and preserving our waterways and environment.

Clean Water Within a Beautiful Backdrop Thanks to strict enforcement of anti-pollution laws, the Chemung River Watershed has become a clean source of drinking water. Its topography features scenic tree-covered palisades, shady islands, sunny low lands and farms dotted about a steep and lush river valley. The Chemung Basin sits at the top of the watershed that drains into the Chesapeake Bay. The federal Environmental Protection Agency said that the Chemung River contains some of the cleanest water in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Last year, the Chemung River provided 58 % of the drinking water to the 52,000 customers of the Elmira Water Board, according to the Water Board’s annual report. The clean water makes for great fishing for walleye, bass, sunfish, and scores of other game fish. Many residents fish the river as a source of food, and fishing derbies draw both locals and tourists to the area. The river is growing cleaner Continued on page 31

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Continued from page 30

thanks to the Chemung County Soil and Water Conservation District, agricultural groups, River Friends and county environmental watchdog and protection groups.

areas, installed three osprey nesting poles and is helping build the 7.5 mile rails-to-trails Lackawanna Rail Trail along the Chemung River, which is scheduled to open in late 2015 or early 2016.

Promotion and increased use and knowledge of the river have helped the community develop a greener attitude toward our environment. More than 3,000 people from scouts, civic groups, businesses and organizations have volunteered to help with trash cleanups, tree and flower planting, and trail and river maintenance. In 2013, River Friends partnered with Chemung ARC, an organization that works with people with developmental disabilities, to form a volunteer cadre to help clean boat launches, build trails and plant trees. To date, River Friends has removed more than 13 tons of trash from in and along the rivers.

Continued river promotion and public education have brought more than 3,100 people to the river since 2009, to paddle the waterway and hike or bicycle along the river trails. River Friends and local healthrelated organizations – like Arnot Ogden Medical Center’s Creating Healthy Places – teamed up to offer paddles and hikes designed for seniors, children and people who are overweight or have diabetes. The river has become a fun and easy way to promote and improve the community’s health.

Our Rivers Drive Economic Growth Many residents who used to travel outside of the county for recreation, now stay home and spend their money locally on the river for recreation. Accessible waterways strengthen local businesses and housing values and expand educational, recreational and social opportunities. Clean and safe waterways bolster community pride, hope, and energy.

Accessible and Varied Outdoor Recreation The river and its trails offer varied and convenient fresh-air exercise, including paddles, hikes, cycling, cross-country skiing, trail running and eco-cashing treks. Best of all, it’s free and open year-round. The Chemung River is accessible through 10 boat launches, built by River Friends and its municipal partners, making it easy to take a paddle trip of a few hours to a few days. Plenty of river islands make great places for primitive camping under the stars. River Friends and its municipal partners installed a solar-powered weather station and recycling canister at the Grove Street Boat Launch in Elmira. The group constructed four boat launch pavilions and picnic

These rivers and streams are community drawing cards that help business and industry attract and keep employees and create jobs. The many recreational uses of our waterways not only attract tourists, but help in our efforts to retain talented young adults in our area. These people realize that our rivers provide a valuable local quality of life perk—free, accessible and enjoyable outdoor family recreation and education. Each year our river and trails provide consistent growth in outdoor recreation, and the economic, community health and environmental knowledge and protection that go along with it. Our future river plans include building more trails and increased recreation and education. Counties upstream and downstream from us are developing river use plans, and want to work with Chemung County to do it correctly. The secret to our success is simple: Make sure everyone is paddling in the same direction.  31


The New York State Canal System Adapted from the NYS Canal Corporation website


he New York State Canal System is a navigable 524mile inland waterway that spans upstate New York. The waterway connects the Hudson River with Lake Champlain, Lake Ontario, Cayuga Lake, Seneca Lake, and Lake Erie via the Niagara River. The Canal System includes four canals: the Erie, Champlain, Oswego and Cayuga-Seneca; canalized natural waterways, plus five lakes: Oneida, Onondaga, Cross, Cayuga and Seneca; short canal sections at Ithaca and Watkins Glen; feeder reservoirs, canals and rivers not accessible by boat from the canal; and canal terminals on Lake Champlain. The Canal System passes through 25 counties and close to 200 villages, hamlets and towns. The canal opened on October 26, 1825 when Governor Clinton set out from Buffalo in a canal boat called the “Seneca Chief.” It took the muscle power of men and horses, eight years to build the Erie Canal. Although it is considered the engineering marvel of its time, not one professional engineer was involved. The entire New York State Canal System is 524 miles long and is operated and maintained by the New York State Canal Corporation. It spans 16 counties in Upstate New York. The Canal System is made up of four canals and two river junctions in Waterford and Tonawanda:  the 338-mile Erie Canal, from Waterford to the Tonawandas,  the 60-mile Champlain Canal, from Whitehall to Waterford,  the 24-mile Oswego Canal, from Oswego to the Erie Canal at Three Rivers Junction, and  the 92-mile Cayuga-Seneca Canal, which encompasses both lakes of the same names and the Canal, connecting them and passing through Seneca Falls.  Connections to the Syracuse and Rochester Harbors make up an additional 10 miles of the Canal System as well. At one time, more than 50,000 people depended on the Erie Canal for their livelihood. From its inception, the Erie Canal helped form a whole new culture revolving around canal life. For many, canal boats became floating houses, traveling from town to town. The father would serve as captain, while the mother cooked for the

family and crew and the children, if old enough, would serve as “hoggees” and would walk alongside the mules to lead them along at a steady pace. For those who traveled along the canal in packet boats or passenger vessels, the canal was an exciting place. Gambling and entertainment were popular pastimes on the canal and often, families would meet each year at the same locations to share stories and adventures. Today, the canal has returned to its former glory against a backdrop of tugboats and barges, tour boats and recreational vessels, fishermen and cyclists riding the former towpaths where mules once trod. The excitement of the past is alive and well. It takes approximately seven to ten days to cruise by powerboat from Albany to Buffalo. The New York State Canal Corporation is a subsidiary of the New York State Thruway Authority, formed through State legislation transferring the Canal System from the New York State Department of Transportation to the Authority on April 1, 1992. The Canal Corporation has transformed the Canal System into a world class recreationway and emerging commercial waterway, with clustered development to foster recreation, tourism and economic development, while preserving the natural and historical environment of the system and its adjacent communities. In 1996, the Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation launched a five-year, $20.3 million initiative to preserve and develop the Canal System for the 21st century. The Canal Revitalization Program, administered by the Canal Corporation and the Canal Recreationway Commission and based upon the 1995 Canal Recreationway Plan, presented a realistic and achievable approach to Canal System development. Major harbors have been constructed in Whitehall, Waterford, Little Falls, Oswego, Syracuse, Seneca Falls, Rochester and the Tonawandas. Additional improvements were made in dozens of canal communities as part of this program. In 2000, the National Parks Service designated the 524-miles of waterway that make up the Canal System, and more than 200 surrounding canal communities, as the “Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.” A 27-member commission was named to oversee the corridor by pursuing the integration of canal-related Continued on page 33

32  N YSAC News Sprin g /S um m er 201 5

Continued from page 32

historical, cultural, recreational, scenic, economic and community development initiatives. In 2002, canal improvements and preservation efforts continued as part of the $50 million Canal Revitalization Program II. A major focus of Canal Revitalization II is the investment of $35 million to complete the Erie Canalway Trail, linking Lake Erie in Buffalo to the Hudson River in Albany. The $50 million program is financed with $25 million from the Federal Highway Administration’s Enhancement Program, which is administered by the State Department of Transportation, and $25 million in Canal Corporation capital funds. During 2008, the Corporation continued to implement the 2006 Erie Canal Greenway Grant Program, which was funded by $10 million in the 2006-2007 New York State Budget. Since its inception, the program has been providing matching grants to municipalities and not-for-profit corporations for capital projects consistent with the recommendations in the Report on the Future of New York State Canals and the 1995 Canal Recreationway Plan.

The entire New York State Canal System is 524 miles long and is operated and maintained by the New York State Canal Corporation.  Erie Canal - 338 miles  Champlain Canal - 60 miles  Oswego Canal - 24 miles  Cayuga-Seneca Canal - 12 miles  Cayuga-Seneca Canal to Ithaca - 45 miles  Cayuga-Seneca Canal to Watkins Glen/ Montour Falls - 45 miles  33

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Capturing Rainfall to Buffer the Impacts of Flooding and Drought By Rebecca L. Schneider, Ph.D. Dept. Natural Resources, Cornell University


ew York is favored by a wealth of water resources, including roughly 40 inches of rain per year, 8000 lakes, 55,000 miles of rivers and coasts along the Great Lakes, Long Island Sound, and the Atlantic Ocean. They provide a plentiful supply of freshwater to support humans and an abundance of aquatic life, which in turn drives commercial fisheries, both fresh and estuarine. They support boating, swimming and other recreational pursuits for local residents and fuel the tourism industry. The interconnected network of rivers, canals and lakes form an aquatic shipping highway that connects the Atlantic to the western U.S. Lake shoreline properties are highly valued and translate into critical local tax dollars. Arguably these water riches form the foundation of the economic vitality and psychological well-being of New York’s communities. In general, New Yorkers take full advantage of this wealth, but perhaps they also take it a bit for granted. Certainly there is considerable negative public attention when an excess of rainfall causes flooding along rivers and streams. It’s understandable, as flooding impacts range from the minor inconvenience of road detours and flooded basements up to the devastating impacts of destroyed buildings, businesses and loss of life. Catastrophic damages from flooding are surprisingly not uncommon in New York, with an average of 50 million dollars spent per year in federal emergency relief, in the years prior to Hurricane Sandy1. Delaware County was the most extreme, with catastrophic flood relief required for 12 events in as many years. Although less common, extended periods without rain also create problems, translating to drought, lowered groundwater tables, and depleted reservoirs. Only about 2% of New York’s crops are irrigated 2, and so even a short interval without rain can have big impacts if it occurs at a critical time during plant growth. As an example, NY State farmers in 2012 received “10-99 million dollars for drought / heat-related crop losses.” 3

New York’s Fluid Future The extreme conditions of both flooding and droughts are likely to increase in frequency and magnitude due to climate change. The Northeastern U.S. has seen a 74 % increase in the high intensity rainfall events in the past several decades. 4 We are experiencing earlier springs and longer growing seasons, and summer temperatures are likely going to warm .5 These conditions, combined with the potential for longer intervening periods between rains, will lead to reduced base flow in streams, drier soils, and associated stress of both crops and natural ecosystems.

This synopsis needs to be put in a broader, national and global framework. The world is at a critical transition point, with water replacing energy as the most limiting resource globally. Nearly two billion people experience chronic water scarcity, which can “fuel conflict and even threaten peace.”6 and Californians are in the midst of the worst drought in decades. In this context, the water abundance of the Northeast U.S. seems an undervalued luxury. New York would benefit from adjusting its mindset with appropriate tailoring of its water management policies. We will need improved water management to reduce New York’s vulnerability to both floods and droughts in the coming decades. But viewed more broadly, several future scenarios are possible. Outside communities and businesses already recognize the incredible value of freshwater. The expenses of transporting water long distances is becoming more financially viable, as evidenced by the 1998 permit request to transport Great Lakes water to Asia, i.e. the catalyst for the creation of the Great Lakes Charter Compact (2008). Alternatively, agriculture and other water-demanding industries will be incentivized to relocate to New York. There are too many examples like the over-allocation of the Colorado River and the Aral Sea disappearance which demonstrate how inadequate planning can drain or damage even plentiful water resources. Conversely, with a sustainabilitybased underpinning, proactive planning for our water resources should make New York more resilient and lead to new economic opportunities.


“Re-plumbing” Watershed Drainage Networks:

New York’s current water management and regulatory systems reflect the historic profusion of freshwater. Costs for water are incredibly cheap, with no tiered system of pricing based on amount or type of use. Aging infrastructure translates to leaks and losses of as much as 50% of piped water but no one’s counting when the source is effectively unlimited. Most public supply reservoirs have a system of rule curves to enact water conservation during droughts, however many do not. Recent adoption and expansion of the 100,000 gal/ day reporting requirement will help provide some protection for aquifers and river systems.7 However, there is no consistent statewide program for groundwater withdrawal permitting or monitoring. As a result, overdraft and groundwater depletion on Long Island is estimated at “<3 km3 between 1900 and 2008.” 8A We need to develop a water management policy and program that reflects the true value of freshwater to New Yorkers.

What New York Can Do One of the critical components is how we deal with stormwater Continued on page 36  35

Continued from page 35

along its flow paths from rainfall to ocean. It’s worth remembering that rainwater is drinkable, requiring little processing, and able to meet the needs of thirsty populations. As an extreme example, an intense rainfall pelted Islip, Long Island with 13.6” in 24 hours on 12-13 August 2014. This storm provided the equivalent of 200 million gallons per square mile, or enough water to meet the needs of 5260 persons dealing with “water stress “9 (i.e. 450,000 gallons per capita) for an entire year. Less intense events occurring over larger regions still translate to a tremendous amount of freshwater. Studies show that parts of New York receive ~20% more annual rainfall than a century ago.”10 However traditional strategies for dealing with stormwater have focused on racing it away, out of the basin, and off to the ocean as quickly as possible. Standard techniques to achieve this goal include straightening and dredging rivers and draining wetlands. The same endpoint has been achieved by removing forest canopies and eroding soil organic layers. EPA Phase II Stormwater regulations were created in recognition of both the positive and negative potential of stormwater. Although an unfunded mandate, expert guidance by NYSDEC has led to some clear successes. Overlooked in the stormwater process has been the role of roadside ditch networks. Research by Cornell faculty and students has demonstrated that ditches capture and rapidly shunt ~20% of runoff to nearby streams, directly contributing to flooding and stream dry-outs 11. This process is exacerbated where roadside ditches are connected to agricultural tile drains, contributing to pollution by sediments, nutrients and pathogens. We propose that re-plumbing the roadside drainage system can provide a win:win solution, both reducing flooding in streams and saving rainfall for later use during hot, dry summers. It will take a combination of strategies including education to a diverse group of stakeholders, expert technical advice, and financial support to change highway practices in place for over a century. However, watershed re-plumbing can be the first tool in a new program for sustainable management of New York’s freshwater resources. Literature Cited 1

Rosenzweig, C., W. Solecki, and A. DeGaetano. 2011. ClimAid: Integrated Assessment for Effective Climate Change Adaptation Strategies in New York State. NYSERDA Report 11-18. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.211.0633.x 2 3 O’Connor, C. 2013. Soil Matters. Natural Resources Defense Council. http://www. 4 National Climate Assessment. 2014. 5 5. Hayhoe, K., C. Wake, B. Anderson. Z. Liang, E. Maurer, J. Zhu, J. Bradbury, A. DeGaetano, A. Stoner, and d. Wuebbles. 2008. Regional climate change projections for the Northeast USA. Mitig. Adap. Strat. Glob.Change 13: 425-436. 6 Eliasson, J.2015. The rising pressure of global water shortages. Nature 517 (6). Doi:10.1038/517006a 7 New York Dept. Environmental Conservation. Water withdrawal. http://www.dec. 8 Konikow, L.F., 2013, Groundwater depletion in the United States (1900­–2008): U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2013–5079, http://pubs.usgs. gov/sir/2013/5079 9 IPCC Third Assessment Report on Climate Change. 2001. Working group II: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Chapter 4.5.2 10 Karl, T.R., Knight, R.W., Easterling, D.R., and Quayle, R.G. 1996. Indices of Climate Change for the United States.Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society77:279-292. 11 Buchanan, B., Easton, Z.M., Schneider, R.L. and Walter, M.T. 2013. Modelling the hydrologic effects of roadside ditch networks on receiving waters. J. Hydrology 486: 293-305

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By NYS Conservation District Employees Association & NY Association of Conservation District


t the county level Soil & Water Conservation Districts have always been looked to as the agency to assist during and after flooding events with proper stream restoration. NYS Department of Conservation (DEC) and US Army Corp of Engineers have recently bought into the idea of emergency response with disaster type permits if certain procedures of construction occur using the Emergency Stream Intervention process. The program, originally developed by Delaware County Soil & Water Conservation District in 2006-2008, caught the attention of NYS DEC officials in Albany as an excellent program for educating municipal officials on proper stream response after an extreme flooding event. Soil & Water Conservation Districts state-wide have endorsed the education program for proper emergency response after extreme storm events. While the original program was focused on private contractors’ certification and education, it has recently developed into much more. The current program is a 90-minute training for municipal officials and a 3-day program for highway departments/contractors, DOT, DEC & Army Corp permits. It is also offered to whoever else wants to attend, but must be presented by Soil & Water Conservation Districts. This program has been recognized as very respectful and permit able.


County Soil & Water Districts Step It Up with Emergency Intervention

The Upper Susquehanna Coalition (USC) and Soil & Water Conservation District were the agencies to pilot this program throughout the watershed of the Chesapeake Bay of New York. The USC is a watershed coalition comprised of 16 NY SWCD counties. Soil and Water Conservation Districts deliver this program state-wide simply because municipalities look to SWCD’s for assistance and technical information when dealing with stream, soil erosion and runoff and Storm-water. NYS Soil and Water Conservation Districts have been recognized as the local leader in natural resource conservation and watershed management. The USC wrote a grant to National Fish & Wildlife and received funds through DEC to carry the education program forward not just at a watershed level, but even beyond our watershed boundaries. The USC has a stream coordinator, who drives SWCO locally to move stream rehabilitation and stabilization to new levels. We see rehabilitation as a state-wide watershed issue and plan to educate all SWCD’s in New York State who have the need. Since training across the state began, accomplishments have far exceeded the initial goals. To date we have held twenty (20) 90-minute overview presentations with 745 individuals from municipalities; thirteen (13) 3-day trainings with 308 individuals in attendance, plus additional training in the Delaware and Hudson region. The program remains very positive, and municipalities interested in more information can contact their local Soil & Water Conservation District or NYS Association of Conservation District Executive Director, Danielle Cummins at  37


Shared Water Means Shared Services: Storm-Water Coalitions an Effective Measure for Managing Run-off By Gil Strizich NYSAC Legislative Clerk


atersheds know no political boundaries, and increasingly the local governmental bodies charged with keeping them clean don’t either.

An important component to maintaining the health of a watershed, is controlling the amount of pollutants in storm water run-off. Under the Clean Water Act, operators are required to obtain various State Pollution Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permits, which allow them to discharge into local waterbodies. The Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit is perhaps the most pertinent to local governments in and around urbanized areas.

shared services. The first, in 2003, was to help municipalities form a coalition to develop educational materials and GIS mapping information. Subsequent grants provide funding to help municipalities advance the application of GIS to map stormsystems, understand how to finance the coalition, as well as help municipalities review and revise local laws to meet MS4 requirements. In addition to regulatory duties, each coalition is responsible for applying for future grants.

Nancy Heinzen, the Storm Water Program Coordinator of Storm Water Coalition of Albany County, sees several benefits of these coalitions. “The value of the coalition early on was training staff people, The MS4 permit requires developing GIS technology for all local governments to monitor members, standardizing permits, and construction site discharge, as well responding to proposed changes. as provide public education and The coalition put a voice to local outreach to prevent residents from concerns. Now, in response to multiple Nancy Heinzen presentation on permitting contaminating storm systems. The audits by the EPA and DEC, coalitions permit includes six minimum control can pool their understanding of expectations and share resources measures: public education and outreach; public involvement/ much more quickly than before,” said Heinzen. participation; illicit discharge detection and elimination (IDDE); construction site storm water runoff control; post-construction The more than 11 coalitions formed across New York link localities storm water management; and pollution prevention/good that have similar needs in a specific region. The Albany County housekeeping for municipal operations. Storm Water Coalition is composed of 13 regulated MS4s, which includes; the City of Albany, Village In order to meet the requirements of Altamont, Town of Bethlehem, of the MS4 permit, many local City of Cohoes, Town of Colonie, governments are forming “Storm Village of Colonie, Village of Green Water Coalitions,” which are often Island, Town of Guilderland, Village organized and hosted by the county. of Menands, Town of New Scotland, Given the overlapping nature of City of Watervliet, the University at watersheds, local governments Albany, and Albany County, all of have found it easier and more which share equal operating status. effective to share resources to The Coalition of Western New York, achieve the regulatory standard of one of New York’s larger coalitions, reducing pollutants to the maximum includes 40 regulated MS4s, and extent possible. New York State includes two counties, Erie County DEC stresses the importance and Niagara County. of collaboration, and offers a Albany County Storm Water Coalition registration desk number of grants that encourage However, the organizational and Continued on page 39

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Storm Water outfall

EPA DEC inspection

Continued from page 38

funding arrangements are variable, creating complexity and uncertainty. Also, given their inter-municipal identity, they are neither listed in county nor town charters, and are typically deprived of the legal status of a corporation. Although these coalitions are responsible for executing portions of the storm water regulations outlined by DEC, and are involved in many of the green infrastructure initiatives throughout the state, their work isn’t easily understood, and their status leaves them in some obscurity. . “We continue to place a heavy value on the cooperative model of operation, but we also must take a close look at enabling legislation to ensure we can meet the needs of complying with these regulations within the context of watersheds and the impact of climate change,” said Heinzen, “Any needed enabling legislation would relate to modeling storm water management based on public benefit corporations, similar to water and sewer districts, which are based on a user fee.” Due to the various inter-municipal agreements involved in forming a coalition, Heinzen believes these coalitions could provide a legal framework for other shared service initiatives throughout New York State. “These coalitions are real examples for local municipalities to follow as they create an institutional foundation to become more efficient,” said Heinzen. At the very least, they lay the framework for other current and future EPA or DEC mandates, and possibly much more.

Storm water outfall  39


Water Without Borders: The Importance of Regional and Intermunicipal Water Resource Planning By Brian G Rahm and Sridhar Vedachalam New York State Water Resources Institute at Cornell University


n the Winter 2015 issue of NYSAC News, an overview of the New York State legislative session urged leaders to support policies that incentivize government efficiency through shared services, including seed funding for municipalities to pursue cooperative agreements and consolidations. Intermunicipal and regional governance approaches, of which shared services is but one, are particularly critical when it comes to water resource planning. Water resource managers tend to think of water in terms of watersheds, an area of land that catches precipitation and channels it below or above ground - via streams or rivers - to a single point. Water quality and quantity at that point is dependent on any activity occurring within the watershed. However, municipal boundaries do not follow watershed delineations. This often creates situations in which municipal water resource managers must deal with consequences of activities over which they have no control. While county boundaries also do not follow watershed lines, counties are better placed to see the big picture when it comes to watershed management. Counties, through health departments and/or water authorities, can play a role in both drinking and waste water treatment and delivery. And, like other local governments, counties shape stormwater management practices through their planning processes and highway departments. What are some of the things counties should be thinking about as they evaluate their regional and intermunicipal water resources management role?

Promoting Best Practice Through planning, counties have multiple opportunities to promote good water resource management. They plan for and manage county-owned resources including buildings, roads and parks. They may pursue water related planning agendas through planning boards, water and sewer districts, soil and water conservation districts, health departments and Cooperative Extension offices. Counties typically also have a limited authority and responsibility to review certain kinds of development projects at the city, town and village levels. Best practices that can be promoted through these activities include green infrastructure and septic system management.

Green infrastructure projects, including bioretention areas, rain gardens, and pervious pavement, have the potential to reduce peak flow during rainfall events and, in some cases, reduce pollutant loads in storm discharge. This can help county and municipal treatment facilities reach their discharge standards. For new development, natural areas should be conserved and protected, and impervious surfaces like parking lots and roads should be minimized. Jeff LeJava of Pace University notes that, “green infrastructure must become more integrated into the regulatory fabric of the land use approval process, particularly through site plan requirements administered by planning boards and … review of stormwater pollution prevention plans.” In rural areas, septic system maintenance presents a challenge. The perception that such systems contribute to “downstream” water quality issues is exacerbated by the fact that local governments have limited capacity and authority to address their long-term management and maintenance. Some counties, such as Cayuga, have instituted programs that involve a mix of land-use guidelines and septic system monitoring protocols that have been successful in reducing the threat of environmental contamination. Septic management programs around a lake, for example, require the cooperation of multiple municipalities, no one of which has jurisdiction over the whole watershed.

Intermunicipal Agreements (IMAs) are Critical For anyone familiar with the New York City water supply system, you know that protecting the quality of source water through landuse management can be a better investment than highly advanced water treatment. However, this also illustrates the challenge that many municipalities face as they try to manage land use in supply watersheds out of their jurisdictions. In such cases where water resources and related infrastructure crosses municipal boundaries, counties can and do have a role to play as arbiters, though it is not an easy one. Research conducted and funded by New York’s Water Resources Institute (WRI) has highlighted challenges and opportunities of regionallycoordinated efforts on a range of water resource infrastructure issues, such as supplies, treatment facilities, distribution networks, and system administration. The capital-intensive nature of Continued on page 41

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infrastructure means that altering such efforts can be difficult after initial investments are made. Kieran Donaghy at Cornell University, referring to research in cooperation with Orange County and the City of Newburgh, stresses that mutually acceptable IMAs and a range of financial arrangements are necessary if the city is to be successful in carrying out its vision of infrastructure improvements.

persistent political will. To cite one example, the imminent closure of the NYC aqueduct for repair will simultaneously impact many communities in the Hudson Valley who rely on its water supply. A regional planning process moderated by counties could help as communities sort through their options.

Shared Services and Consolidation

Counties play a critical role in leading and promoting regional and intermunicipal water resource planning. Of course, it helps to have funding. The following are examples of opportunities that might be right for you:

As Dr. Mildred Warner pointed out in the previous issue of NYSAC News, tax cap issues and state mandates continue to make it difficult for municipalities to invest properly in water infrastructure. Shared services and/or consolidation of either administration or physical assets can relieve fiscal stress and increase efficiency for some. These approaches can free up resources for infrastructure, and shift focus to asset management. After reviewing relevant case studies, Peter Woodbury at Cornell University found that intermunicipal consolidation of water infrastructure likely leads to a balance of short term costs related to planning and implementation, and long term savings in operations and administration. While there was a lack of clear evidence to suggest that consolidation always leads to cost savings, Woodbury notes that there can be other benefits, such as improved planning capacity and risk management. As administrators of water authorities and operators of treatment facilities, counties can be the natural leaders when it comes to regional consolidation. In Monroe County, consolidation has been successful. Anecdote and experience suggests, however, that consolidation requires strong regional leadership and

There’s Help

 NY Department of State Local Government Efficiency grant program (  Environmental Facilities Corporation – Green Innovation Grant Program ( and Wastewater Infrastructure Engineering Planning Grant ( pubs/81196.html)


Continued from page 40

 Hudson River Estuary Program Local Stewardship Planning grants (

About WRI New York State Water Resources Institute (WRI) at Cornell University is a federally- and state-designated institution, whose mission is to improve the management of water resources in New York State and the nation. For more information on WRI and the projects mentioned here, visit our website at wri.cals. 

Map courtesy of the New York Geographic Alliance.  41


Need to Make Expensive Upgrades to Your Water Infrastructure? There’s Help. By Mark Koester President, Koester Associates


t’s no secret that local governments and school districts across New York State are under increased fiscal pressure due to the tax cap and the tax freeze. On December 9, 2014, local governments, school districts, civil society and union leaders gathered at the Gideon Putnam in Saratoga Springs, NY to discuss the challenges they are facing under the tax cap and the tax freeze and explore opportunities to respond. Co-sponsored by the Fiscal Policy Institute and Cornell’s Community and Regional Development Institute, with funding support from the NYS Union of Teachers, the conference featured research conducted by Drs. John Sipple and Mildred Warner and their students. The presentations covered the impacts of the tax cap and declining state aid on revenue and expenditures of school districts and cities, counties, villages and towns. Replacing wastewater infrastructure can have a rippling impact on property taxes and economic development.

New Industry, Lacking the Infrastructure to Support It

Addiitionallly, over the past decades, many smaller municipalities across the state opted to construct local treatment facilities to support the residential and industrial growth within their borders. Now, those cities, towns and villages are faced with high operating costs, high legacy costs and high capital costs. When faced with this dilemma, the choices often come down to passing on these high costs to taxpayers, borrow, or hope to shift responsibility to a higher level of government,

New Solutions to the Cost of Facility Upgrades The cost of water treatment facility upgrades can be offset in two ways through public-private partnerships. First, private sector companies who specialize in water treatment can work with you and your engineers to maximize your cost savings by using new technologies to create efficiencies. Sometimes the entire cost of mandatory system upgrades can be paid for by making your water plant more energy efficient.

As many county economic development officials know well, new economic development prospects, particularly those in the food manufacturing area, such as yogurt, fruit, breweries, etc., are disappointed to learn that existing wastewater treatment plants would require significant upgrades to handle new development.

Second, there are private sector companies equipped and willing to assume the operations and maintenance of water treatment facilities, significantly limiting the locality’s operating costs and eliminating legacy costs while planning for and helping fund necessary capital needs.

Whether the existing local treatment facility can’t handle the high BOD (biochemical oxygen demand) content produced or any other high concentrated content of concern, new technologies and finance structures can be leveraged without increasing the burden on municipalities.

Challenging economic times can be met with innovative solutions. Before embarking on costly capital projects, understanding the changing environment is more critical than ever. It could pay off—for your government and your taxpayers.  

Time for Expensive Municipal Upgrades, Need Help Financing Most water treatment facilities in Upstate New York were built many years ago, and proper upgrades and maintenance have been postponed during the prolonged recession. Now, new development opportunities that promise new businesses, jobs, and homes require expensive upgrades to meet regulatory compliance.

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Case Study on the Village of Horseheads, NY

By Michael Wymer, PE, BCEE Senior Environmental Engineer Brian Sibiga, PE, Civil Engineer Andrew Casolini Dal Bo, PE, LEED AP, Vice President, Water & Wastewater Infrastructure Christine Birmingham, Wendel


he Village of Horseheads, Chemung County, owns, operates, and maintains its own water system, which serves approximately 15,000 people. The largest groundwater well in their system, Well 5, has provided approximately 60 % of the potable water required for over 25 years. When the one-two punch of Tropical Storms Irene and Lee hit in the fall of 2011, the area around Well 5 was inundated due to its close proximity to Newtown Creek, and water quality in the well was compromised. As a result, the well was re-classified as ground water under the direct influence of surface water (GWUDI), meaning the source was considered at risk of contamination from pathogens such as Giardia lamblia, Cryptosporidium, and viruses. Shortly afterward, a consent order was issued by the health department, requiring additional treatment.

treatment goals, compact footprint, low operating cost, and operational flexibility. The selection of upflow filtration provided an integrated solution for the Village that interlaced all environmental media:  Air – An energy analysis conducted as part of the study indicated the selection of upflow filtration over microfiltration resulted in a net annual environmental savings (from electrical use reduction) of 122,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, 500 pounds of sulfur dioxide and 141 pounds of nitrous oxide.


A Small Water System’s Recovery from Natural Disaster:

 Water –The excellent well water quality allowed for a modification of the upflow filtration backwash process from continuous to intermittent operation, reducing the overall volume of backwash water produced, and therefore reducing the amount of backwash water discharged into Newtown Creek.  Land – The compact design of the upflow filtration units permitted construction of the new treatment works without disturbance of the adjoining wetlands (no fill was brought to the site). The design also incorporated the existing Well 5 structure into the treatment process, further reducing site disturbance.

Quality The existing Well No 5 is in close proximity to Newtown Creek. When Tropical Storm Lee hit, the area was flooded and the well water was compromised. The water was re-classified as ground water under the direct influence of surface water (GWUDI), which means any water beneath the surface of the ground is now considered at risk of contamination from pathogens such as Giardia lamblia, Cryptosporidium, and viruses, and thus, requires additional treatment. Attribution: Wendel

Integrated Approach The village commissioned a study to evaluate four treatment alternatives. Upflow filtration emerged as the preferred compliance alternative due to its potential to meet all

The owner was an integral part of the development and implementation of the project as a stakeholder in the design process, regulatory meetings, funding/financing and public engagement. During construction, the owner provided full-time resident observation services. At the ribbon cutting ceremony, Village Manager Walter Herbst praised the merits of the project: “The solution exactly met the total goals of the Village. The treatment plant surpasses all water quality requirements of the NYSDOH, was built under budget and within the consent order schedule. Village residents can look forward to a safe, economically-smart water supply for many years to come.” The final cost for the project is projected to be approximately $4.3 million, falling under the FEMA grant award limit. Continued on page 44  43


Continued from page 43

Originality and Innovation Typically, upflow filtration has been applied to wastewater treatment or quality-challenged drinking water sources, requiring a continuous backwash flow. Well 5 has excellent raw water quality characteristics, low in turbidity and organics, allowing modification of the backwash process to reduce the volume of backwash generated each day. The use of variable frequency drives on all pumps provides the flexibility to refine treatment schemes and match seasonal demand fluctuations. Proactively, the design of the treatment facility includes additional treatment capacity to accept groundwater from the Well 4 facility, a groundwater source adjacent to Newtown Creek, located approximately 2,000 feet south of Well 5. If a similar reclassification of Well 4 should occur, the Village is prepared with a treatment solution.

Complexity Several physical, operational, and economic challenges were addressed during the design process. As noted, the solution had to incorporate an efficient footprint to allow construction on the existing elevated area above the 100-year flood elevation and surrounding wetlands.

Rainfall amounts from Tropical Storm Lee, September 5, 8 am EDT – September 9, 2011, Attribution: NOAA, National Weather Service, Eastern Region

Prior to construction, Well 5 operated as an on/off system based on the high/low level settings of the Village’s finished water reservoirs. This operating scheme does not fit the operation of a filter system, which requires uninterrupted flow. Using variable frequency drives on the raw and finished water pumps, coupled with remote level readings transmitted through a renewed PLC/SCADA system, a new operating scheme in which the rate of pumping automatically adjusts to system demand was implemented. This not only provided the continuous flow required by the filters, but also a more stable pressure and chlorine residual throughout the entire distribution system. Economic challenges focused on the financial sustainability of the treatment process. Prior to the Well 5 reclassification, the major expenses associated with operation involved the cost of chlorine, fluoride, and electricity for pumping. Major additional operation costs associated with the new plant included a coagulant chemical, increased finished water pumping, and the disposal of waste backwash water. The impact of these costs was lessened through optimization of coagulant dose, intermittent filter backwashing, and provision to obtain a NYSDEC permit for direct backwash discharge to the creek. In addition, the use of variable frequency drives described above allowed for a more energy efficient operation of the Well. LED lighting further reduced utility costs.

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Precast Concrete Attribution: Wendel


The Upflow Filtration system provides a compact design resulting in a smaller footprint while minimizing energy requirements for backwashing. The unique design also allows the filter to continue to operate during the cleaning sequence resulting in lower capital costs due to reduction in redundancy. Graphic courtesy of the Parkson Corporation

Workers prepare for the installation of the first filter component. The shape of the FRP cone enhances the movement of the filtered water up through the sand. Attribution: Wendel

The two-stage filter system consists of four filter trains, each with two filter units. Each filter is covered by a solid-surface aluminum deck panel. The influent channel distributes water pumped from Well 5 to the first stage filters (background) which include 80-inches of filter sand. Water then flows by gravity to the second stage filters that have 40-inches of sand. Each filter has a dedicated air panel controlling the backwash processes. A central control panel (left) manages and reports on filter operation and backwash activities. Attribution: Wendel

Economic and Social Advancement Construction of the Well 5 treatment system, coupled with the future ability to treat Well 4, provides the Village with a stable, cost-effective water supply to meet current and future water demands of its customers. This effectively enhanced the economic growth of the residential, commercial, and industrial base of the Village. Through sensible cost control throughout the Well 5 project, the village was able to enhance the safety and reliability of the entire Village water system. At Well 5, the existing chlorine and fluoride facilities were modified to allow remote communication

and flow proportional control. Improvements to the system-wide SCADA system provided further control and alarm dependability between Wells 1, 2, 4 and 5, the Village’s two reservoirs, and operator command centers located at the Water Department Building and Village Hall. The Village acted in a highly transparent manner during the project; engaging the public throughout the entire process. The overall public perception of the project is that of a treatment facility that meets the consent order of the health department, budget set by the Village and operational expectations of the water department staff, which equals success.  45


Creation of the Wyoming County Water Resource Agency By Stephen Perkins WCHD Director of Environmental Health


enjamin Franklin once said “When the well is dry, we learn the worth of water.” What is the worth of water? We know that we could not survive without water. However, could this statement also apply to the lack of public water service areas addressing quality and quantity concerns or the loss of potential manufacturing jobs because of insufficient capacity? Safe potable water is vital for human health and well-being. Having enough capacity is critical for sustainable economic development, thereby providing jobs for our county residents. Wyoming County is predominantly a rural community with approximately 55% of the land area being dedicated to agricultural production. Population changes in the county vary with some of the towns and villages experiencing singlepercentage increases since the 2000 census but most have decreased. The rural nature of the county and minimal population growth have led to infrastructure concerns from water systems operators and municipal leaders. Unlike some of its neighboring counties, Wyoming County currently does not have a central water agency or authority responsible for the treatment, distribution, and maintenance of potable water for residents and businesses. Sixteen municipal public water systems exist throughout Wyoming County and supply potable water to approximately 42% of the population; the remaining residents presently rely on other smaller community and non-community public water systems or individual private well systems. It can be a struggle for small rural communities to just maintain their respective municipal water supplies as they currently exist. Aging water treatment plants, distribution systems that have far exceeded their life use, the ever-increasing regulatory requirements as well as the shortage of water system operators are problems facing these communities today. In 2010, realizing the challenges facing our communities and concerns from our public water systems, the Wyoming County Board of Supervisors, led by Chairman A. D. Berwanger, applied for and received a New York State Department of State Local Government Efficiency Grant. The purposes of this grant were to inventory the current

status of public water systems within Wyoming County, to explore the possibility of expanding services to areas in need of public water and to identify areas for potential cost savings through the consolidation of services. After this initial study was completed, several recommendations were made, resulting in Wyoming County applying for and receiving a Local Government Efficiency Implementation Grant from New York State Department of State. In January 2013, as part of this implementation grant, the Wyoming County Water Resource Agency was created under the County Government structure but is governed by its own Board of Directors and By-Laws. Early on it was established that the general goals of the agency would include:  Providing services that might assist water system operations;  Working with the municipal water supply to assist with the water system coordination, including system maintenance and operator training;  Assisting with asset management, GIS mapping and general long-range planning of our municipal water systems, including financial assistance and potential capital improvements;  Help to ensure the public safety, health and welfare of our county residents by making sure public water is provided to them where possible.

Benjamin Franklin once said “When the well is dry, we learn the worth of water.” Continued on page 47

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One of the agency’s earliest achievements was to provide a comprehensive leak detection program. Sophisticated leak detection equipment was purchased and staffed with trained personnel. As mentioned earlier, many of our county water systems have distribution systems that are exceeding their expected useful life. As a result, there have been numerous water leaks that potentially could have compromised the entire water system. Time is of the essence during these types of events; providing leak detection service quickly can help prevent a catastrophic system failure. In addition, the leak detection service is available to all systems to help identify “nuisance” leaks in the water distribution system. Since its inception, the leak detection program has been used successfully and has recently been made available to neighboring county systems if needed. As a result of canvassing the public water supplies early in the study, it became apparent that some sort of water sampling service was needed to assist the systems in meeting state and federal regulatory obligations. The number of certified labs was becoming fewer, prices for these services were increasing and courier services were expensive and often unreliable. After reviewing a number of options, the Agency developed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Wyoming County Public

Health Department to provide a water sampling service. This not only provided a substantial savings in the water sample fees being charged, but also provided an opportunity for county agencies to share services. This sampling service has been well received and continues to grow in member participation. Work continues on other ideas including a joint purchasing program for energy and operational supplies; the development of a pool of certified operators to be used by systems as needed and opportunities for other shared services. The agency has now entered into the next phase of operation by developing Inter-Municipal agreements and exploring partnerships with public water supplies. This has proven to be challenging at times but they remain optimistic that in time the services, ideas and potential partnerships offered by the agency will be embraced and accepted as a better way of doing business.


Continued from page 46

So, with what we have seen and been involved with over the last few years, it can be said, Wyoming County knows the worth of water and the newly formed Wyoming County Water Resource Agency is working hard to ensure this continues for the years and decades to come.  47


Farmers, Counties to EPA:

Clarification Needed on Clean Water Act Regulations By Steve Ammerman New York Farm Bureau Public Affairs Manager


rotecting our natural resources is a priority for farmers in New York. Water quality must be held in high regard for it is essential to food production. Water is necessary to bring life to our seeds and to quench the thirst of our livestock. Just as important, our farm families drink from the same water as their neighbors. Simply put, without clean water we would have no agriculture in our state. Our farmers also understand the need for fairness and doing what is right. For more than two years, New York Farm Bureau has expressed serious concerns to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers over their plan to revise the definition of the Waters of the Unites States (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act. Farm Bureau believes the subjective nature of the proposed rule opens up some ditches to be considered tributaries. It would allow for normally dry farm fields to be called ephemeral streams if rain water should pond after a large storm. By the EPA’s own admission, three-% more of the country’s land would now fall under federally controlled waterways, and we estimate significantly more. That means home builders, municipalities, and, yes, farmers, would need additional permits to perform routine work on their land. This is land already under the jurisdiction of local and state regulations. But what if there is a disagreement over whether a small body of water should be federally regulated? The answer will depend on inspectors who may have varying opinions depending on their region and experience. The clarification process may take years, according to the EPA. Those delays and permits will cost taxpayers money through local taxes and no farmer can afford to delay planting while they wait for a decision from Washington. These concerns are shared by many organizations and have once again created a partnership between New York Farm Bureau and the New York State Association of Counties. Lawmaking bodies in 35 New York counties passed resolutions last year denouncing the EPA’s efforts due to the negative impacts and high costs it will place on our communities. County highway departments have expressed serious reservations that they too will be subject to more permits and in turn more expenses. This at a time when county budgets are already stretched to the limit, in large part due to unfunded mandates. In turn, our organizations joined together in sending a letter last year to the EPA’s Administrator.

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The letter stated, “As a result [of the new regulations], all New York taxpayers will be forced to pick up the costs for significantly more federal regulation, permitting burdens and compliance costs. It will also lead to project delays, in both public and private sectors, and would restrict the use of economically productive land that benefits every aspect of a local economy without any assurance of additional clean water protection or real water quality improvement.” It asked the EPA to withdraw the rule, but to no avail. In April, EPA sent its WOTUS final rule to the Office of Management and Budget for interagency review and it could be finalized by June. Now it is time for Congress to act. In April, Representatives took what American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman called “the first important step toward resolving this issue fairly.” The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015. It would require EPA to withdraw the current proposed rule or any potential final rule within 30 days of enactment and charges them with developing a new proposed rule. The legislation primarily addresses EPA’s flawed process for proposing the WOTUS rulemaking. This received bi-partisan support, including from New York representatives from both parties, who serve on the House Committee. Hopefully, by the time this is published, there will have been more movement in Congress on the bill. This opposition isn’t about side stepping our duties to protect water quality in New York. Both farmers and county governments all across the state have solid records to stand on when it comes to environmental stewardship. This state has shown time and time again to have some of the highest standards in the country. However when issues do arise, New Yorkers step up to the plate to find new ways to do things better. And we can do the same again when it comes to the waters of the U.S. As we mentioned in the joint letter to the EPA, what all of us need is a rule that is clear, concise and truly protects the waters of the United States as intended under the Clean Water Act. This is something to remind our lawmakers in Washington and also the people that each of our organizations represent, farmers and taxpayers who are one in the same. When it comes to protecting our precious natural resources, we must get it right. 

Harmful Algae Are Blooming in New York’s Waters By Barbara Ann Branca New York Sea Grant Communications Manager


armful algal blooms or HABs have become a worldwide phenomenon, posing a significant threat to public health, economies, water quality, and fisheries. New York State, with its bounty of freshwater lakes and ponds and miles of coastal ocean has had a rainbow of harmful algal blooms—some of them toxic to aquatic life and pets.

from our waste water as well as from natural processes. Nitrogen and phosphorus act like nutrients, encouraging cell growth. Unchecked, the algae become the dominant species, crowding out other species in the living community. High concentrations of brown tide harm shellfish, but do not pose health risks to humans. Some red tide (Alexandrium) can cause illness in people who consume shellfish contaminated with its toxin. But in fresh water, some species of blue-green cyanobacteria produce potent toxins that may result in nerve and liver damage – even death—in animals that have been exposed. Unfortunately, those animals are sometimes our dogs.

During the 1950s there were green tide blooms in Long Island’s (LI) south shore bays that negatively impacted the oyster fishery. This year (2015) marks the 30th anniversary of brown tides occurring in LI’s south shore and east end bays, destroying eelgrass beds, decimating scallop fisheries and greatly reducing New York’s historically profitable scallop and hard clam fisheries. Since 2006, toxinproducing red tide blooms have caused shellfishery closures within LI estuaries. For decades, the toxins in cyanobacteria (formerly known as blue-green algae) have negatively impacted Lake Erie drinking water in New York’s Great Lakes region and even fresh water ponds on Long Island. A highly publicized recent example was in 2014 when the city of Toledo, Ohio, had to shut down its public water supply because of cyanobacteria in the Lake Erie waters surrounding its intake. For the last two decades, New York Sea Grant researchers have been observing and studying the causes of such blooms and educating the public and officials about possible ways to mitigate their effects. Generally, growth of these algal blooms can be linked to the addition of everyday chemicals like nitrogen and phosphorus that enter waterways

New York Sea Grant Extension’s Dave MacNeill, based in SUNY Oswego and organizer of a recent HAB workshop, had observed that every year in New York’s Great Lakes region there is an increasing number of dogs who were being exposed to harmful algal blooms. Those exposed to blooms with high levels of toxins had poor outcomes—either death or permanent disability. And those exposed over long periods of time to lower levels of toxins still suffered cumulative effects. “People get sick, but dogs die,” said MacNeill.


To HAB and to HAB Not:

According to Cornell Veterinary College’s Dr. Karyn Bischoff, the number of reported cases of HABs poisoning in dogs is probably underestimated because pet owners are not aware of the problem. The Center for Disease Control reported there were about 400 documentable cases of canine poisoning by blue-green algae during the past century but Continued on page 50  49


Continued from page 49

acknowledge this is a small fraction of cases that have occurred. The time is now to let dog owners know of the risks of letting their dogs play in water contaminated by cyanobacteria. If a dog begins to show signs of HAB poisoning—lethargy, vomiting, abdominal swelling—and requires intense veterinary care, dog owners may be spending more to care for their pets. Many waterfowl hunters take their trusty retrievers with them-dogs that may cost anywhere from $500 to $2000. According to US Fish and Wildlife Service, waterfowl hunters spend about a $1000 per year maintaining and outfitting their hunting dogs. This adds up to $900 million annually, with $20 million spent in New York State alone. The very real threat of HABs, which can affect the health of waterfowl as well, may affect the $2.4 billion impact waterfowl hunting has on the US economy. Cyanobacteria have not only harmed pets and tainted some water supplies, they can be devastating to the local tourismbased economy. Case in point is Sodus Bay, NY, a popular boating destination on the east end of Lake Ontario. The 2010 bloom that occurred in Sodus Bay jeopardized the drinking water of its residents and unexpectedly and prematurely ended the tourism season, and generally harmed the local businesses. We generally think of New York’s freshwater resources as being the State’s two Great Lakes, the Finger Lakes, and New York’s

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great river systems and their tributaries. However, in the summer of 2014, cyanobacteria were detected in Suffolk County on eastern Long Island, according to Dr. Chris Gobler, Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, a recognized expert on brown tide, red tide, “rust tide,” as well as cyanobacteria. In fact, Dr. Gobler points out, more positive tests come up for cyanobacteria in Suffolk County than any other county in the state. In 2012, the New York Department of Health linked a canine death in Suffolk County to a cyanobacteria bloom. What can people do to prevent harmful algal blooms? According to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, New Yorkers can do their part by reducing the amount of nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) that goes into the State’s water bodies. Try limiting lawn fertilization, maintaining septic tanks and shoreline buffers, and reducing erosion and stormwater runoff. Because HABs develop best in stagnant water, boaters can try maintaining water movement by using the same ‘bubblers” in summer that are used to keep ice from forming in winter. Boaters and property owners, pet lovers and tourists alike—let’s do our part and keep New York’s waters safe for ourselves and our pets. For more go to: pdf. And to find out if cyanobacteria are in water bodies in your county, check 

By Dooley Kiefer Tompkins County Legislator


In the fall of 2011, a sharp-eyed high school student intern, Jordan Stark, who was participating in an aquatic-plant sampling exercise as part of a science education program aboard the Floating Classroom boat on Cayuga Lake Inlet, spotted a 1-inch weed fragment in her net that had not previously been identified in our waterways. Within hours, and with the aid of local aquatic plant expert and retired Cornell Ponds Manager Bob Johnson, it was identified as Hydrilla Verticillata, a rapidly spreading aquatic invasive species familiar in Florida and several other parts of the United States, but not here! Hers was the first observation of this highly invasive plant in waters connected to the Great Lakes.

trailers and in live wells. Boat traffic through existing populations can break up and spread the weed. Some rapid research revealed that chemical treatments had been successfully used in specific locations in Florida and throughout the southeast as well as in California and elsewhere. With the help of several experts from across the U.S. it was determined that local application of a specific chemical with intent to eradicate was our best aim. While the SWCD applied for a DEC permit to allow treatment, attempts were made to notify the boating public of the problem. But, as Ms. Johnston said: “Requests to the boating community to voluntarily abandon the Inlet were only partly successful.”

The Inlet is in the City of Ithaca, and within days A way had to be found a self-organizing group to keep boaters out of of concerned individuals the Inlet. To prevent both were brainstorming fragmentation and spread what to do. That group, of the plant, and the later christened the possibility of incidental “Hydrilla Task Force” human contact with (HTF), included thentreated waters, closure mayor Carolyn Peterson, of the Inlet to all but the the City water-treatment herbicide applicators plant lab director and was needed. This was a watershed coordinator huge challenge. It was Roxanna Johnston, quickly learned that it is representatives of the not easy to restrict boat Signage on City paddle docks on the Cayuga Lake Inlet at Cass Park Tompkins County Soil movement in navigable and Water Conservation waters. The County District (SWCD), members of the Tompkins County Water Attorney determined that only the Sheriff has the power to Resources Council (WRC), Cornell experts, Cooperative close the Inlet–and only for health or safety reasons. We quickly Extension educators, and local environmentalists. All quickly contacted Sheriff Ken Lansing and told him of his crucial role in learned that if Hydrilla became established in Cayuga Lake, containing this invasive species. the weed’s explosive growth potential threatened to radically change the ecology and use of Cayuga Lake and many other Sheriff Lansing took it upon himself to research the topic waterways. discovering how much an infestation problem can affect the environment of Cayuga Lake. “The decision to close the inlet Hydrilla can root in deep dark waters, has long stems (up to 25 to treat the problem came from logic that if we did not close to feet) and can grow as much as an inch a day. At the surface the treat it then we would have a much bigger problem on our hands stems spread out and in shallower waters can form thick mats in the future,” he said. “Although it was inconvenient for boaters that block sunlight to native plants below. In our area the plant at the time, the future was what I was focused on when I made overwinters as tubers at the bottom substrate. It is propagated that decision.” mainly by stem fragments that cling to recreational boats and


Sheriffs Do More Than Serve Warrants, Arrest Persons, and Run Jails

Continued on page 52  51


Continued from page 51

Meanwhile, the HTF worked with Howard Goebel from the NYS Canal Corporation to determine that no state or federal regulatory agencies had authority in New York to close the inlet in response to an invasive species (one of many gaps discovered in invasive species regulations). Since only the Sheriff can determine the waterway is a public health/safety hazard they asked the mayor to declare a state of emergency, which she did. Because the Inlet is in the City, when Mayor Peterson declared a state of emergency, it gave the Sheriff the necessary grounds on which to act. Sheriff Lansing closed the Inlet for 11 days, from October 5 through October 14, 2011. As Ms. Johnston sums up: “It was a great government response.” The public was notified of the closure via a press release and radio announcements. There was much news coverage from local media, too. Various departments and agencies implemented signage and undertook public education outreach. The Sheriff’s Office used its patrol boat to keep people from entering or exiting the inlet. Sheriff Lansing notes that “The Sheriff’s Office presence at the inlet was not essential in getting the treatment distributed, but it was essential in the executive decision to close the inlet.” Each year since, the inlet has been closed for approximately 24 hours for the safety of boaters and to improve efficiency of the herbicide application. First the contact herbicide endothal is applied to control early vegetative growth; later the systemic herbicide fluordone is used to kill the tubers. Hydrilla is easier to eradicate if it is only in a closed pond or small lake. But if it has infested a flowing waterway, it is often only “managed.” Here, using protocols developed in California and Washington, we chose to undertake a multi-year treatment approach aimed at eradicating the species so that it would not spread through the Canal system and beyond. We have sought funding from state and federal sources, and grants, as well as our local government and on March 4, 2013, we hired a project manager, James Balycsak, who had experience in treating Florida infestations. He is headquartered with our SWCD. “Since inception of the Cayuga Lake Watershed Hydrilla Project in fall of 2011”, said Balycsak, “the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office has assisted the HTF in closure of the Cayuga Inlet each successive season. [This] helps to ensure the safety of not only the public, but of the herbicide applicators as well. With high boat traffic throughout the inlet [the 400-slip Allan H. Treman Marina on the inlet is the state’s largest inland marina] closure allows for the best possible conditions for effective herbicide treatment and applicator safety. While closure … can be temporarily inconvenient, the HTF and Sheriff’s office work closely to educate and inform waterfront businesses and inlet users in advance of the closure. The ultimate goal of the Hydrilla Project, including the 24-hour closure[s], is the protection and preservation of the Cayuga Inlet, and the connecting waters of the Cayuga Lake watershed and beyond. The Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office participation in Project efforts is crucial to its success. In closing I want to note that, with the continuing involvement of local experts like Bob Johnson and others, useful research on Hydrilla growth habits and treatment effects in our more northern climate location is ongoing, and what is being learned here will benefit communities and the environment elsewhere. 

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Hydrilla-infested channel leading to Cayuga Lake Inlet

By Joe Martens Commissioner, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation


or the past five years, Governor Cuomo has successfully enacted on-time budgets that achieve his major goals of controlling taxes and spending, creating jobs, and making smart investments in key areas like education, community resiliency and the environment. At DEC, we are especially pleased the 2015-16 State Budget includes funding for programs and projects that protect the State’s water resources and complete critical infrastructure upgrades. This is good news for communities that need additional resources to fulfill their commitment to provide residents with clean and safe water for drinking and recreation. Implementing these projects will also create good paying jobs.

$200 Million for Clean Water Infrastructure First off, the new State Budget includes $50 million in grants to fund clean and drinking water infrastructure projects this year, with a pledge of an additional $150 million in the next two years. Under this program, the State would provide grants mixed with interestfree loans to hardship communities for upgrades to local drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities. This new program will make water quality projects more affordable to municipalities and shift some of the costs away from local property taxpayers. For the fourth year in a row, the NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC ) will be making $2 million in grant funds available to assist disadvantaged municipalities with the cost of preparing engineering reports for wastewater infrastructure projects. Such engineering plans are a prerequisite for applying for state and federal grants and low-cost loan programs. The program is jointly managed by DEC and EFC, and the funding will be offered through the Governor’s Consolidated Funding Application program set to open this spring. For the sixth year in a row, EFC will make funding available to municipalities for planning, design and construction of green infrastructure practices to manage storm water. EFC will make approximately $15 million available, which will also be offered through the Governor’s Consolidated Funding Application.

Increased Support for Environmental Protection Fund Governor Cuomo and the Legislature also increased the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) to $177 million in the 201516 budget, an increase of $15 million over last year, and a 32 % increase since 2011. The EPF funds a variety of important programs and will allow DEC to provide up to $34 million in grants this year to assist municipalities in addressing wastewater infrastructure projects and federally-required polluted runoff permit requirements. The community-enriching watershed basin programs, such as those for the Hudson River Estuary, Mohawk River, and Great Lakes, which

saw increases this year, are also funded through the Environmental Protection Fund.

Funding to Reduce Nitrogen Pollution The new budget also includes $5 million to undertake a comprehensive technical assessment of the sources and harm caused by nitrogen pollution throughout Long Island, and identify specific actions to manage and abate those problems going forward. DEC expects that this assessment will be performed in coordination with Nassau and Suffolk counties, municipal governments and interested stakeholders, and will be an integral part of the solution to Long Island’s water quality problems. This assessment of nitrogen pollution is a logical next step to Governor Cuomo’s announcement in October 2014 that the State had identified $383 million to extend sewers in four communities in Suffolk County to help protect the area’s surface and groundwater and improve coastal resiliency. Governor Cuomo also has marshalled $830 million in storm recovery funds to make Nassau County’s Bay Park sewage treatment plant more storm resistant. An additional $150 million will be directed to help dramatically reduce harmful nitrogen discharges to the Western Bays of Southern Nassau County.


2015 State Budget Protects and Enhances NY’s Water Resources, Infrastructure

Funding Innovation to Address Costly Pollution Both the 2014 and 2015 State budgets included $3 million in matching grant funds to assist Suffolk County with on-site septic system research, development and pilot projects to address local water quality issues. This funding will support basic research into affordable, reliable and effective on-site wastewater treatment systems to reduce nitrogen seeping into both groundwater and, ultimately, surface water from these systems. Funds will also be used for the development of septic program demonstration programs and pilot projects. Stony Brook University will use a portion of these funds to establish a Center for Clean Water Technology, to advance this environmental and business development initiative. In addition to the State Budget, the Governor has devised an integrated approach to address extreme weather challenges in an environmentally sensitive manner – from the community up. Many of you have been key leaders in the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program. As the Governor has stressed, New York must rebuild stronger and smarter than ever before. With your continuing leadership, we will succeed. As co-stewards of the environment, we look forward to partnering with local municipalities to put this funding to work to make New York a better place to live and work and protect the magnificent water resources the people have been entrusted to protect.  53


Sheriffs Marine Patrols Protect and Serve on the Water By Sheriff Ron Spike Yates County, NY


he NYS Office of Parks and Recreation & Historic Preservation (Parks and Rec) is the lead agency in New York State for the coordination of marine law enforcement services, but they rely on municipal and county law enforcement, including the county Sheriff’s Office’s Marine Patrol Units. The New York State Sheriffs have a special relationship with the marine law enforcement division. Sheriffs in 40 of the counties outside of New York City operate Marine Patrol Units on navigable waterways in their counties. In fact, in most cases Parks and Rec makes referrals to the county sheriff for navigation and boating complaints, accident investigations, and enforcement of all related regulations. These generally involve the Navigation Law, Vehicle and Traffic Law (registrations), NYS OGS (lands under the water) and Lake George that has special regulations. The Bureau of Marine Services works closely with sheriffs distributing state aid from boater registration funds and sponsoring special marine-related training for law enforcement such as the marine patrol officer basic course, patrol vessel operator, impaired boater recognition, PWC operator, and vessel noise enforcement. A portion of the money collected from vessel registration fees are provided for distribution to localities which operate marine patrols. While this money, which may reach as much as $3 million per year, goes primarily to the county sheriffs and police departments, some of it is also given to towns and villages. A participating agency may receive aid equal to 50% of their total operating costs, capital, and personnel expenses, refunded up to a maximum of $200,000. Additionally “Parks and Rec” rely on the sheriff to investigate and approve floating object and regatta permits. Parks and Rec sponsors the “Make Sure – Make Shore” safe boating operator course; many Sheriffs’ Offices have certified instructors that regularly teach the course. Although not mandatory for some, many youth and seniors are take the course. Many of the patrol vessels used by sheriff’s offices throughout the state were provided on a “loaner” basis by Parks and Rec. The state sheriffs feel very fortunate to have a great working relationship and collaboration with this important state agency. Why important? Because recreational boating in New York State is recognized as a 2 billion dollar industry and Parks and Rec records indicate 457,000 registered power boats and 300,000

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non-powered vessels in the state, and New York ranks 7th in the USA for registrations. More and more sheriffs’ marine patrols are taking a zero tolerance stand in three areas (1) wearing of personal floatation devices (PFD) or life jackets as commonly referred, (2) operating vessels while impaired by alcohol or drugs, (3) reckless operation. Between enforcement and increased education and prevention efforts, fatalities on New York State waterways have declined 60% from what it was 35 years ago. Boating accident statistics have also shown that accidents can happen anytime, but most occur on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and so that is a time period that sheriffs have addressed with increased patrol vessels and even deputies patrolling on PWC’s. The state sheriffs take their mission seriously on our waterways and the patrol vessel is ever a public reminder of safety and navigation related laws. Marine deputies answer 911 calls, citizen complaints, investigate in-water, or waterside crime, boating accidents, and do vessel inspections at launch sites and inspections on the water by displaying their emergency blue lights to cause the stop. They patrol regattas and other on waterway events. They may make arrests and sometimes issue citations, but always have a lot of interaction with recreational boaters through issuing warnings or counseling in an effort to promote safety for everyone. Often times, the sheriff’s patrol vessel is the “tow truck” on the lake, and can be seen towing stranded boaters to shore. Additionally they may be the first to arrive when a boater, fisherman, skier, or tuber has been injured. Deputies are trained first responders and most patrol boats equipped with AED’s, and often have save lives, and have transported the injured to a nearby on-shore ambulance. There are many other emergencies they often assist on including search and rescue or assist Sheriff’s or other underwater dive teams in recovery operations. In some areas of the state the patrols are very important to counter terrorism, counter drug efforts and border patrol. Many natural events such as flood debris run-off into lakes and rivers can cause special needs for sheriff’s marine patrols such as marking hazards to navigation, and towing stumps, trees, and other floating hazards off the waterways. Finally, a contemporary concern is for prevention of invasive species into our lakes and waterways, such as non-native plants and animals that threaten the ecosystem, degrade fishing and boating and may negatively affect tourism. Marine patrol officers are now educating boaters before and after boating to clean, drain and dry their boats and motors, especially removing all visible plants, etc. Preserving our natural resources, especially water, will secure New York’s future for recreation, tourism, our environment, and their economic effect in our counties. Sheriffs’ marine patrols are proud to play a key role in maintaining the safety and wellbeing of our waterways. 

Liquid Nicotine, Plastic Bags, and Chemicals in Children’s Products By Patrick Cummings Counsel, New York State Association of Counties


ounsel’s Corner provides an overview of local laws recently passed in New York counties. This series provides our member legislators with insight to creative solutions other counties have developed to handle local issues. Like all local legislation, what is a solution in one county may not necessarily be a fit for your county or your constituents. If you are interested in learning more about any of the local laws, or if you would like a copy of the local law, please contact NYSAC. Additionally, if your county has a local law you would like us to share, please reach out and we would be happy to include it in upcoming articles.

Suffolk County Enacts Local Law Raising Awareness of the Dangers of Liquid Nicotine Products On March 3, 2015 Suffolk County passed a local law to warn consumers of the potential dangers when using liquid nicotine products. Under this local law, the county legislature stated that electronic cigarette use has continued to increase within Suffolk County. The local law further stated that calls to poison control centers have increased regarding liquid nicotine “with more than 50% of those calls involving children under the age of 5.” This law requires that any person operating a business that sells liquid nicotine within the county post signage provided by the County Department of Health Services. The signage warns consumers of potential dangers of liquid nitrogen and reminds all to keep this product out of children’s reach. Failure of a business that sells liquid nicotine products to post the signage will result in a civil penalty of up to $250 for an initial violation, $500 for a second violation and up to $1000 for any subsequent violation.

Albany County Passes Local Law Banning the Sale of Children’s Products that Contain Specific Chemicals On January 7, 2015 Albany County Executive Dan McCoy signed a local law, previously passed by the Legislature, banning the sale of certain products targeted to children within the county. In the local law, known as the “ToxicFree Toys Act,” the Albany County Legislature found that “of chemicals of high concern, several

Counsel’s Corner

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are known to be toxic and carcinogenic, including benzene, lead, mercury, antimony, arsenic, cadmium, and cobalt … [and] that many common children’s products contain these toxic chemicals and known carcinogens.” The local law states that these chemicals can get into the local drinking supply which could lead to “brain damage, hyperactivity, anemia, liver and kidney damage, developmental delays, lowered IQ, poor impulse control, and even death.” In order to clarify compliance, the local law offered the following definitions: Children are persons 12 years of age or younger; Children’s Product means any product primarily intended for, made for, or marketed for use by children; children’s product does not include batteries, consumer electronics or electronic components, paper products, or a drug, biologic, medical device, food, or food additive regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration. This local law bans all businesses within the county from selling or offering to sell children’s products that contain benzene, lead, mercury, antimony, arsenic, cadmium, or cobalt. Exceptions to this law include products that act as protective sporting equipment such as helmets, knee pads or elbow pads. The penalty for any entity within the county violating such local law includes civil penalty of up to $500 for an initial violation and up to $1000 for any subsequent violation.

Nassau County Enacts Local Law to Reduce the Impact of Plastic Bags Nassau County has passed a local law to help reduce the amount of plastic bag litter within the county. This local law mandates that every store within the county must comply with one or more of following options when providing consumer shopping bags: 1) provide bags that are made from recyclable paper; and/or 2) make available for purchase reusable bags; and/or 3) provide an at-store recycling program when providing plastic consumer bags. When an at-store recycling program is created, this program must include, but is not limited to, print on the outside of every bag encouraging recycling and provide a bin for collection of bags that is placed in an accessible and visible area of the store. If a store operator violates any portion of this local law, they will receive a warning from the county on the first offense, up to a $300 penalty for a second offense, up to $500 for a third offense, and up to $750 for any offense thereafter.

New York State County Fairs: 2015

New York will be home to dozens of county fairs this summer. Visit the individual county fair links below, or the New York State Association of Agricultural Fairs website ( for more information and details for each fair.

Fair Name


Afton Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . N/A Allegany County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . July 13 - 18 Altamont Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 11 - 16 Boonville-Oneida County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . July 28 - Aug 2 Broome County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . July 28 - Aug 2 Cattaraugus County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 3 - 9 Cayuga County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . July 10 - 13 Chautauqua County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . July 27 - Aug 2 Chemung County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 4 - 9 Chenango County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 11 - 16 Clinton County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . July 28 - Aug 2 Columbia County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sept 2 - 7 Cortland County Junior Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . July 7 - 11 Delaware County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 17 - 22 Dutchess County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 25 - 30 Erie County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 12 - 23 Essex County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 12 - 16 Fonda Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sept 1 - 7 Franklin County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 8 - 16 Genesee County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . July 21 - 25 Goshen Historic Track . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . July 2 - 5 Gouverneur/St. Lawrence County Fair . . . . . . Aug 4 - 9 Grahamsville Little Worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Fair . . . . . . . . . . Aug 13 - 16 Greene County Youth Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . July 23 - 26 Hemlock Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . July 21 - 25 Herkimer County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 18 - 23 Jefferson County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . July 14 - 19 Lewis County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . July 21 - 25 Livingston County Fair at Caledonia . . . . . . . . N\A Long Island Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sept. 25 - 27 & Oct 2 - 4 Madison County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . July 9 - 12 Monroe County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 6 - 9 New York State Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 27 - Sept 7 Niagara County Youth Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 5 - 9 Ontario County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . July 21 - 25 Orleans County 4-H Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . July 27 - Aug 1 Oswego County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . July 1 - 5 Otsego County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 4 - 9 Saratoga County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . July 21 - 26 Schaghticoke Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sept 2 - 7 Seneca County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . July 15 - 18 Steuben County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 18 - 23 Tioga County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . July 7 - 11 Trumansburg Fair (Tompkins County) . . . . . . . Aug 25 - 30 Ulster County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . July 28 - Aug 2 Washington County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 24 - 30 Wayne County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 10 - 15 Wyoming County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 15 - 22 Yates County Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . July 7 - 11



Afton Angelica Altamont Boonville Whitney Point Little Valley Weedsport Dunkirk Horseheads Norwich Morrisonville Chatham Cortland Walton Rhinebeck Hamburg Westport Fonda Malone Batavia Goshen Gouverneur Grahamsville Cairo Hemlock Frankfort Watertown Lowville Caledonia Old Bethpage Brookfield Henrietta Syracuse Lockport Canandaigua Albion Sandy Creek Morris Ballston Spa Schaghticoke Waterloo Bath Owego Trumansburg New Paltz Greenwich Palmyra Pike Penn Yan

NYSACâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 90th Anniversary Taste of New York Gala

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NYSAC News Spring/Summer 2015  

This issue of NYSAC News explores New York's water and waterways, and the relationships between counties and water. It includes articles on...