Protecting, preserving and remediating water quality is a diverse challenge and requires a diverse approach. SWIO and its partner organizations are working on numerous projects to help achieve these goals. You can learn more about these efforts here.


Best Management Practices

Numerous Best Management Practice (BMP) strategies have been developed over the years to remediate and prevent water quality pollution across a wide range of landscapes. Rain gardens, rain barrels, retention basins, check dams, floodplain restoration, manure storage, and cover cropping are only a few of the examples of the BMP strategies being implemented throughout the watershed. But more work is needed!

The five Soil & Water Conservation Districts within the watershed – Chemung, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca and Yates – are experts at this and have a long history of working with area farmers, residents and road crews to get projects on the landscape. SWIO is partnering alongside them and others less experienced to help make this happen when and wherever we can.



Monitoring of our waterways is an often overlooked but critical part of water resource management. Though it does not in and of itself improve water quality, monitoring data informs all other actions that do so. Without it, BMPs are improperly designed, strategies are ill informed, and progress is uncertain.

SWIO – along with NYSDEC, USGS and Hobart and William Smith Colleges – are working to help better understand current conditions. The water quality data collected will form the foundation on which the Nine Element Plan model is built, and by extension the actions to be implemented over the next decade or more. Long term monitoring will help us track our progress, identify new pollution sources if they emerge, and adjust our management strategy as needed.   


Watershed-wide Septic Standards

Existing septic system laws – where they exist at all – differ from one municipality to the other within the Seneca Lake watershed. As such, SWIO is currently drafting an On-Site Septic System Law for potential adoption by each of the municipalities with the goal of establish a universally agreed upon set of minimal standards. These standards will provide a watershed-scale level of protection to our public waters and watershed citizens. To help gauge what level and type of requirements are acceptable to our fellow citizens, we are asking individuals to please consider completing a brief SURVEY. Thank you for contributing to this effort.


Streamside Tree Planting Initiative

Trees located along streambanks provide numerous resource benefits from nutrient removal to erosion prevention. Multiple State, Federal, and Private grant opportunities exist to help property owners and land managers obtain trees at no cost but often have requirements that are too arduous for individuals to meet on their own. To help solve this, SWIO is developing a list of property owners and managers in the Seneca Lake watershed who are interested in planting trees along streams so that we can join forces and take advantage of these opportunities. If you are such an individual please fill out the FORM and submit it to the Seneca Watershed Steward via email ( or post office (Ian Smith, Finger Lakes Institute, 601 South Main Street, Geneva NY 14456).