The Oneida Lake and Watershed Management Plan

About the Watershed Initiative

What is the Oneida Lake Watershed Initiative and What's in it For Me?

What is a watershed?

A watershed is the total land area that drains into a stream, river, or lake. The Oneida Lake watershed covers 872,722 acres (or 1,364 square miles), and extends all the way from the Tug Hill region in Lewis County, down to the northern border of Cortland County. All the surface and ground water from this entire region drains into Oneida Lake. Decisions regarding land use within our six-county watershed have a direct influence on the water quality in Oneida Lake.

What is a Lake and Watershed Management Plan?

A management plan is an opportunity for watershed decision-makers to identify and prioritize important issues of concern and to select restoration and maintenance goals for the long-term protection of local water resources. As part of this process, stakeholders documented the natural and cultural features in Oneida Lake and its watershed in The Oneida Lake State of the Lake and Watershed Report . Lake and watershed protection and improvement goals were then summarized in a document called A Management Strategy for Oneida Lake and its Watershed. The management plan is an action-oriented, local-level initiative and all lake and watershed users are encouraged to participate.

Who coordinates the Oneida Lake Watershed Management Plan?

The CNY RPDB coordinates the management plan and generates grant funding. The Oneida Lake Watershed Advisory Council provides guidance to the CNY RPDB and provides local-level participation in the management planning process. The Council Board of Directors includes County, municipal and stakeholder representatives.

Will the Lake and Watershed Management Plan benefit local municipalities?

Definitely! Comprehensive, long-term planning for a healthy lake environment will attract business, tourism, and recreation dollars to strengthen the local economy. The Management Plan provides the following opportunities:

  • Improved opportunities to receive state and federal grant funding
  • Cooperation among organizations, pooled services and financial resources, and enhanced communication beyond municipal borders - all leading to improved regional efficiency
  • Ability to prioritize projects and to develop ecologically based, cost effective solutions within the watershed as a regional effort
  • Uniformity, consistency and fairness in program implementation
  • Reduction of nonpoint source pollution and protection of fisheries, wildlife habitats, and other critical areas
  • Well-defined water resource management goals achieved through a locally based effort without the creation of additional bureaucracy
  • Informed, involved community leaders and lake users that are in a better position to make wise management decisions regarding the lake and watershed

What are the current project goals?

Educational initiatives are being implemented throughout the watershed to ensure that the public stays well informed and involved in water resource improvement projects, and working partnerships among agencies and organizations are maintained for maximum efficiency. Additional priorities include agriculture, nonpoint source pollution control, nutrient management programs, and GIS mapping services.

Have any other lake communities completed a Lake and Watershed Management Plan?

Many lake communities across the nation have completed management plans. In New York State, Oneida Lake is following in the footsteps of lakes such as Seneca, Keuka, Skaneateles, Cayuga, Conesus, Canandaigua, Owasco, and Champlain.

Who provides funding for the Oneida Lake Watershed Management Plan?

The watershed management plan is supported through local, state, and federal grant funding to the CNY RPDB, primarily from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (from the Environmental Protection Fund) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (thanks to the efforts of Congressmen James Walsh and Sherwood Boehlert). The NYS Department of State, the Great Lakes Commission, and the CNY Community Foundation have provided additional funding to the CNY RPDB for this project. The Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Planning Departments, Cooperative Extension, Tug Hill Commission, and other organizations routinely generate grant funding for watershed protection and restoration. CNY RPDB contracts with the Cornell Biological Field Station, Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County, and the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District to reach program goals.


For more information on the Oneida Lake Watershed Management Plan activities e-mail the Central New York Regional Planning Board.

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