Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance
Minutes of the Board of Directors Meeting
Thursday, October 13, 2016
4:00 p.m. at Stow Senior Center
Directors Present: Pierre Chagnon, Sally Carlson, Don Emhardt, David Spann, David Shepherd, and Vince Horrigan.
Absent: Linda Barber, Ken Shearer, and David Wesp.
Others in Attendance: Erin Brickley – Alliance Executive Director and Randall Perry – Alliance Project Manager.
Founding Member Representatives in Attendance: Doug Conroe – Chautauqua Lake Association, John Jablonski – Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, Marla Connelly – NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation – Allegany Region, & Cassie Pinkoski – Chautauqua County Soil & Water Conservation District.
Scientific Review & Advisory Committee Members in Attendance: Dave McCoy.
I. Call to Order:
Mr. Emhardt called the meeting of the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance (Alliance) to order at 4:02 pm. It was noted for the record that there was a quorum (6 of 9) present.
II. Approval of Minutes:
Mr. Chagnon made a motion to accept the minutes of the 9/8/16 Board Meeting as written, seconded by Mrs. Carlson. The motion was approved unanimously.
III. Recent Microplastics Sampling on Chautauqua Lake:
Mr. Perry gave a summary description of recent SUNY Fredonia, Alliance, and CWC efforts to participate in citizen science microplastics sampling for Chautauqua Lake. Plastics in the environment are typically broken down into ever-smaller pieces, rather than into their component molecules, by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light through a process known as photodegradation. Microplastics are plastic pieces generally smaller than 5 mm that often originate from cosmetic sources such as exfoliating face wash or toothpaste but also from synthetic clothing or improperly discarded plastic products. A professor at Fredonia, Dr. Courtney Wigdahl-Perry, was recently contacted by international colleagues about conducting microplastics sampling on Chautauqua Lake, one of only a handful of North American sites to be included in a larger European study of microplastics in inland lakes. A PhD student in the Netherlands has been leading the NETLAKE citizen science activities in Europe and is currently conducting a microplastics monitoring project assessing over 25 European lakes. This NETLAKE study would be the first ever effort to assess levels of microplastics in Chautauqua Lake. In coordination with Dr. Wigdahl-Perry, Randall Perry and Jen Maguder from the Alliance and the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy (CWC) respectively, collected samples from both lake basins on September 20, 2016. The samples were sent to the Netherlands for analysis.
IV. NYS Pollution Prevention Grant for Education & Outreach on Integrated Sewer Management Plan:
Ms. Brickley gave a summary description of a recent grant application submitted by the County and the Alliance. It was noted that so far, the Alliance has focused on project development, grant writing, grant administration and project facilitation. This project, if funded, would have Alliance personnel directly involved in implementation via billable staff time.
Community Grants Program: “Homeowner Education & Outreach on the Integrated Sewage Management Plan for Chautauqua Lake”
- The project goals and objectives revolve around concentrated homeowner education and outreach regarding the relationship of failing and inadequate septic systems to the water quality in Chautauqua Lake as well as the environmental, health and economic value provided by installing municipal wastewater infrastructure around Chautauqua Lake.
- The end products of this project include:
- Two public community forums open to all Chautauqua Lake residents will be held whereby educational presentations will be made as well as a question and answer session with a panel of experts from Chautauqua County, Sewer Districts, and the County Health Department.
- Identification of appropriate mailing lists for residents with septic systems, with a geographical prioritization based on the timing of planned implementation phases for each sewer extension.
- Creation of informational mailers, press releases, and social media content.
- Following the community forums and concurrent with the mailers and press releases, door to door efforts will commence. Staff from the Alliance will focus on in person outreach efforts, again matching geographical priorities with each planned sewer extension and timeline.
- It is hoped that participating homeowners will learn about the many water quality implications associated with septic systems, the benefits of public sewer infrastructure and the positive efforts and fiscal investments taken on by many in our County to improve the health of Chautauqua Lake. Once that overarching knowledge is in place, the individual door to door efforts aim to cement these lessons but also to offer individual feedback and resources as each parcel/property will have its own characteristics and challenges. This will also be an opportunity to educate homeowners on various ways they can personally make positive impacts to water quality and why that is important to our community as a whole.
Mr. Chagnon added that the proposed sewer extensions could be voted on by permissive referendum so this would be a wonderful proactive effort if the grant is awarded. Mrs. Carlson noted that the assessor for Towns of North Harmony and Chautauqua can likely help with appropriate mailing lists. She also advised that informational mailers should go to a broader audience than just those homes located along the proposed extensions and efforts should be made to include seasonal residents and visitors as well.
V. Update on 2015 WQIP Grant Award Projects:
Mr. Perry gave an update on the status of the six WQIP funded projects.
Construction of Prendergast Creek WQIP is complete:
- Construction started 8/31/2016; Completion date = 9/21/2016.
- Installed ~650 linear feet of stone toe protection (2 sections); ~1,140 feet of total stream corridor restored.
- Streambanks graded (decreased slope), armored with rock, and planted with willows.
- Engineered rock riffles (channel grade stabilizers) downstream of each stabilized bank (2 total).
- Removal of large woody debris from channel that was causing accelerated bank erosion.
- Constructed per work plan and permit and within budget.
- Payments to Soil & Water (outside vendors) is complete or pending (~$56,400): invoice turnaround time by County/Alliance ≈ 1 week (Inv#1 submitted 9/27 & paid-in-full 10/4; Inv#2 submitted 10/7 & pending).
- Public outreach: CWC press release during project (Post Journal, 9/9), general informational mailer, write-ups for project completion in preparation.
- Thank you to the project team – Soil & Water, CCPED/Other County staff, and CWC – great work!
Next site up: Bemus Creek Upper (near intersection of Mahanna Road and Bemus-Ellery Road in Bemus Point). Note: Bemus project consists of two separate sites referenced as Upper and Lower.
- State (NYSDEC) Minority- and Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) compliance unit quarterly reports submitted on 10/5 for all 6 WQIPs.
- Quarterly Reports (technical narrative/schedule/budget/etc.) are in preparation and due 10/30.
- Reimbursement Request(s) in preparation for Prendergast (County must spend money prior to requesting reimbursement from State).
- Receive, process, and pay remaining invoices for Prendergast work (Soil & Water, Alliance, CWC).
- Finalize Quarterly Reports (All 6 WQIPs) and reimbursement requests (Prendergast, Pending-Bemus).
- Execute subcontracts with County for remaining WQIPs (Soil & Water, Alliance, CWC).
- Design firm Request for Proposals for Dutch Hollow Main Stem and West Dutch Hollow projects.
VI. Update on Match Fund Proposals (Foundations & County):
Ms. Brickley updated the group on the efforts related to the Alliance proposal for a grants match fund supported by area foundations as well as the County. The idea is for the county and the local foundations to work together to expand match fund opportunities which leverages local fiscal assets in order to magnify the amount of outside state and federal grant funding that can be secured for the Chautauqua Lake watershed. Area foundations have been extremely supportive and awarded a total of $160k via three grants this summer. A resolution was submitted for County match funding for the September legislature meeting. Ms. Brickley informed the group that the County resolution was pulled for edits but will be resubmitted for the November legislative session.
VII. Discussion of 2017 Goals:
Ms. Brickley advised that the Alliance has published its 2015 and 2016 Goals on the Alliance website at www.chautauquaalliance.org and reviewed the format and topics associated with the 2016 goals with the group. Given that we are headed to the end of the year, Ms. Brickley advised all those in attendance that input and feedback for setting 2017 goals are more than welcome and feedback would be extremely valuable. This topic was brought forth now to allow for time to consider and further discussion to follow.
Mr. Chagnon noted that he would like to see a future discussion on how we can continue to be transparent and encourage communications with our members. Are there additional ways above and beyond current methods to better inform our members and the public about Alliance efforts and activities? Ms. Brickley will reach out to groups like CRCF for insight and advice and report back to the group.
Mr. Horrigan asked about current staff knowledge of grant opportunities. Ms. Brickley advised that she maintains a comprehensive spreadsheet of grant opportunities above and beyond the NY State Consolidated Funding grants that open once a year. The grant opportunities are reviewed periodically and any program changes noted but that it likely is not an exhaustive list of all possible grant opportunities and continues to grow over time as grant knowledge is accrued. Also, there is a learning curve occurring with the extensive 2015 state awards and that the concept has been to focus on state level funding first, establish excellent administrative and project facilitation skills that will help build a solid reputation among grantors, to be followed by expanded focus on federal funding opportunities. It was noted that the Alliance established all of the necessary process steps and registrations (SAM, CAGE, DUNS, etc.) and is an eligible applicant on the federal grants.gov site since 2015. However, rather than grant opportunities being the limiting factor as anticipated, Ms. Brickley advised the group that project identification and development as well as partner commitment has proved to be the larger challenge as the Alliance has moved through its first year and a half. Mr. Chagnon concurred that when the Alliance was being formed, it was assumed that members would bring forth many projects for funding assistance but that this has not been the case and that we need to adjust the approach and priorities accordingly.
Mr. McCoy advised that the County has recently secured a lobbying firm to assist with federal opportunities county wide but that is an uphill battle to bring attention to Chautauqua. The firm has recently assisted with resubmitting a federal ask via the US Army Corp of Engineers that would fund engineering studies on the remaining sub-watershed tributaries as was done for Goose/Dutch Hollow tributaries in 2013-2014. This will need to be signed off by the House and the Senate and that political support at a high level in the state would go a long way in achieving this funding.
Mr. Chagnon spoke on his hopes of utilizing the Alliance Scientific Review & Advisory committee to review the 2010 Chautauqua Lake Watershed Management Plan, assess what has been accomplished, what still remains, and confirm the documented prioritizations are still applicable. This effort could better inform our efforts for project identification and development going forward. Mr. Spann, chair of this committee, noted a slightly different perspective on what the committee could focus their efforts on. Mr. Horrigan advised that County staff have recently focused on doing a review of the County 20/20 Comprehensive Plan to assess progress. This has generated renewed energy and focus on recommendations that still need completed. Mr. McCoy noted that there other plans that could be updated such a new round of effort for the Chautauqua Lake LWRP as most of the work for that was done 2006-2009 though published later on after approval by the state.
VIII. Open Floor / Member Updates:
Mr. Emhardt opened the floor to any Member updates or upcoming events and/or comments from the general public in attendance:
- Mr. Jablonski from the CWC advised that a recent publication of their newsletter the “Shed Sheet” will be going out shortly to approximately 5,400 households. The WQIP streambank educational mailers created for the August Lake Rally will also be going out the public in a few weeks. Also, CWC is working with the County on educational mailer about proper yard waste disposal since this is the season for it as everyone is dealing with leaves, etc.
- Mr. Shepherd gave an update on behalf of area foundations. Some Foundation leaders recently walked the Jamestown Riverwalk with Twan Leenders from RTPI and learned of the growing effort to repair streambank erosion areas near the JBPU facility. RTPI and Soil & Water secured a local 2% grant for approximately $40k to start to address these immediate issues. It was clear that the area has far more potential for community engagement and additional investments and improvements going forward.
Mrs. Carlson made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 5:00pm, seconded by Mr. Horrigan. The motion passed unanimously.