ERIE COUNTY, NY- The Erie County Department of Environment & Planning (DEP), in partnership with the Lake Erie Watershed Protection Alliance (LEWPA) and Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, has announced plans to begin Phase II of the Regional Niagara River/Lake Erie Watershed Management Plan following their successful application for New York State Consolidated Funding, which resulted in an award of $507,830 from the NYS Department of State to pursue the Plan. This project builds on three years of effort by Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper for Phase I of a Niagara River Watershed Management Plan and is a continuation of a community-based watershed planning effort to improve and protect all of Western New York's water resources.
“As I stated in my ‘Initiatives for a Smart Economy’ address [link below], the protection and restoration of the health and integrity of Western New York’s fresh water systems is not only sound environmental policy but also represents a smart investment in our economic future,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz.
“Clean, healthy and accessible waterways are essential to the environmental health and continuing economic recovery of Western New York. I commend the DEP and their partners for the good work they are doing and for the positive legacy that will remain when they have completed the Plan.”
Phase II efforts will integrate the remaining sub-watersheds within the Lake Erie Watershed to develop a comprehensive, regionally-based Watershed Management Plan for Western New York. This phase will also address numerous ongoing and emerging water quality issues in order to help attract and support a multitude of recreation, tourism, and commercial businesses.
“We are a Great Lakes region, with two major coastal cities and a numerous waterfront communities that share access to 95% of North America’s fresh water”, said Jill Jedlicka, Executive Director of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper. “It is evident that our regional economic revitalization directly correlates to how we embrace, protect and enhance the quality of our water, and this planning effort helps us maximize these resources without sacrificing our quality of life and environment”.
Lake Erie and the Niagara River are both valued as natural resources, economic engines, sources of power, and for aesthetic and recreational purposes. However, the impairments of the Lake Erie-Niagara River Basin create real costs for WNY, severely undermining both their quality-of-life and their full economic development potential. When complete, the Watershed Management Plan will provide a blueprint for municipalities to maximize the economic benefits of the watershed while minimizing environmental impacts on it.
The mission of the Lake Erie Watershed Protection Alliance is to foster collaboration and partnerships within the watershed to address regional water quality and quantity concerns and in doing so, protect and enhance our Lake Erie resource.
- On the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning, visit www.erie.gov/environment
- On the Lake Erie Watershed Protection Alliance, visit www.erie.gov/LEWPA
- On Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, visit www.bnriverkeeper.org
- Erie County ‘Initiatives for a Smart Economy’ [PDF - 5,207 KB]