CLA Joins Finger Lakes Regional Watershed Alliance

The Conesus Lake Association is a founding member of the new Finger Lakes Regional Watershed Alliance.

The Finger Lakes Regional Watershed Alliance (“FLRWA”) is formed

This past summer, representatives of the lake and watershed associations of the nine publicly-owned and inhabited Finger Lakes met at the Finger Lakes Institute in Geneva to begin the process of forming a new organization that will focus on the unique needs of the Finger Lakes area of our state. 

Individuals from the following lake and watershed groups participated: Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association, Cayuga Lake Watershed Network, Conesus Lake Association, Honeoye Valley Association, Keuka Lake Association, Otisco Lake Preservation Association, Owasco Watershed Lake Association, Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association, and Tri-County Skaneateles Lake Pure Water Association.  These citizen-based groups represent over 7,000 members.

At the end of that meeting, all nine associations agreed to form an alliance that would span the Finger Lakes, and represent the allied interests of the individuals living in their geographic area.  The Finger Lakes Regional Watershed Alliance was formed. 

The stated purpose of the Finger Lakes Watershed Alliance is “to bring together the members, expertise and desires of the Finger Lakes watershed associations to preserve and protect the watersheds of the Finger Lakes region with a collective regional voice.”

The forming group identified three goals:

Join forces to advocate for mutually beneficial regional changes, backed by sound research. Seek funds, in concert with other organizations, to support initiatives that transcend individual watershed boundaries. Share best practices, and where none exist, work together to establish pilot projects with the intent of replicating those that are successful throughout the region

At its initial meeting, the Alliance identified six watershed-related issues (from 29 listed by members) for initial exploration by FLRWA: gas drilling in Marcellus Shale and other shale formations; phosphates, weeds & algae; invasive species; agricultural best management practices (“BMPs”); landfills; and tax equity throughout the watersheds.

At upcoming Alliance meetings, these priority topics will be discussed to determine whether FLRWA can impact the discussion of each across the lakes, and what actions can be taken across the Finger Lakes to implement change.  A web site is being constructed, as are other ways to communicate the issues facing the Finger Lakes and how to organize this alliance to maximize its effectiveness across the geography.

How will FLRWA benefit the Finger Lakes region of New York State?  Alliance members believe that a common cross-Finger Lakes positioning regarding the issues that face these lakes might be more successful than individual lake and watershed associations acting independently.  The impact of lake and watershed associations, acting together to represent the residents of the Finger Lakes area, is more likely to produce positive results when dealing with agencies and higher levels of government.  FLRWA represents thousands of members (and potential voters) in the Finger Lakes region of New York State.  As this group establishes its regional identity, and provides a single voice to lawmakers, potential funding agencies and others, the extent of that impact may begin to be felt.

Residents of the Finger Lakes region are fortunate to live in this part of New York.  This area is a unique and irreplaceable natural resource.  The recent transfer of ownership of Hemlock and Canadice Lakes to New York State will ensure their forever-wild status and prevent development around these two Finger Lakes.  In the future, it will be important for the nine developed Finger Lakes to address the conservation, sustainability and water quality challenges that the region faces. FLRWA has the potential to provide the strong regional leadership, beyond that which can come from individual lake or watershed associations, that will be essential to preserve and protect the entire Finger Lakes region for future generations.