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Local Projects

Watershed Friendly Legislation

Watershed protection begins at the local level. The following documents describe actual legislation implemented by Finger Lakes towns and villages to maintain and/or improve water quality.


Town of Fleming - Owasco Lake Watershed Overlay
Fleming Overlay The town of Fleming adopted a new zoning law in December of 2008. One significant change to the law was the addition of an Owasco Watershed Overlay which included special regulations with the specific intent of both protecting and improving the water quality of Owasco Lake, its shoreline, groundwater resoucres and surrounding area.

Article 6-9 of the Fleming Zoning Law specifies general regulations and design regulations. These regulations address several known watershed issues, such as:

  • Pesticide use
  • Erosion control
  • Septic systems
  • Impervious surfaces
  • Viewsheds
  • Shoreline disturbance



Town of Niles - Shared Lakefront Recreational Areas
Shared Lake ShoreThe town of Niles adopted a local law in 2008 allowing the planning board the right to review and regulate conveyance of lake rights and shared lake front recreation along both Skaneateles and Owasco Lakes.

The law allows granting of special permits for share lakefront and requires 10 feet of lake frontage and 2,000 square feet of lot area per dwelling of shared lakefront. The law also allows flexibility for lots of more than 20,000 square feet or greater than 200 feet of shoreline.

Here is an example of how this may be use to regulate development, taken from the Town of Niles Comprehensive Plan (January, 2010)


Cayuga County Health Department Septic System Program

For many years, Cayuga County has been at the forefront of proper septic system testing and maintenance. The Septic System Program sets requirements for regular inspections, construction standards and repair/modification standards. The program also enforces the Cayuga County Sanitary Code and investigates complaints.


Town of Brutus - Drainage

In the winter of 2008, the town of Brutus modified their subdivision regulations that require site plans for subdivisions to show how storm drainage will be controlled to prevent damage to other properties.  These requirements may be found on pages 20 and 23 of section 108 of the Brutus local law.

The New York State DEC describes stormwater as water from rain or melting snow that doesn't soak into the ground but runs off into waterways. It flows from rooftops, over paved areas and bare soil, and through sloped lawns while picking up a variety of materials on its way. The quality of runoff is affected by a variety of factors and depends on the season, local meteorology, geography and upon activities which lie in the path of the flow.

The DEC offers suggestions for better site planning and design for proper capture and disposal of stormwater in a document called Better Site Design (2.25 MB)



Private Land Owner Projects

You don't need legislative power to make a difference. Individuals can make a difference too! The following documents describe projects completed by Finger Lakes land owners that will have lasting effects on Finger Lakes water quality.


Wetland Restoration

Canoga Creek Conservancy The Canoga Creek Farm and Conservancy - Keith Tidball, Associate Director of the Civic Ecology at Cornell University, partnered with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and several other groups to restore wetland function to 70 acres of Canoga Marsh on the western shores of Cayuga Lake.  Habitat for migratory birds was enhanced, plant and animal diversity was increased, and most importantly, the water filtration capacity of the wetland was improved.






Farmland Preservation

Farmland PreservationThe Cayuga County Planning Department's Farmland Protection Program was started in 2001 and has since Purchased Development Rights of over 7,000 acres of the county's finest farmland. By partnering with the American Farmland Trust, and the New York Ag Land Trust, as well as the New York State Department of Ag and Markets and the Natural Resource Conservation Service, the county has been able to ensure that the lands will remain undeveloped for many years to come.