WATER RESOURCES COUNCIL
December 18, 2006
Members Present (18): John Andersson, Jim Dennis, Barry Goodrich, Kate Hackett, Dan Karig, Dooley
Kiefer (Associate), Darby Kiley, Dan Konowalow, Todd Miller (Ex-Officio), David Morey, Frank Proto,
Nick Schipanski, Craig Schutt, Bud Shattuck, Mary Shelley (Associate), Paul Tunison, Cathy Valentino,
Members Excused (2): Roxy Johnston, Roger Yonkin
Members Absent (3): Scott Cook (Ex-Officio), Dan Dostie (Ex-Officio), Tania Schusler
Staff Present (1): Kathy Wilsea (T C Planning Dept.)
Guests Present (5): Joann Cornish (City of Ithaca Planning Department), Michael Culotta (City of Ithaca
Conservation Advisory Council), Dennis Montgomery (Floating Classroom), Janet Murray (Leadership
Tompkins Dredging Project ’06), Lisa Nicholas (City of Ithaca Planning Department)
Chair Frank Proto called the meeting to order at 4:18 PM.
Agenda Review and Approval of Minutes – There were no changes to the agenda. The draft minutes of
November 20th were moved by John Andersson, seconded by Dan Konowalow, and accepted by consensus
with no changes.
Dredging of Cayuga Inlet – City of Ithaca Planning Department staff members Lisa Nicholas and Joann
Cornish were present. Joann is the Deputy Director of Planning, and Lisa is a Planner who is spearheading
dredging funding efforts. Joann provided background. The United States Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE)
is responsible for the flood control channel. The New York State Department of Environmental
Conservation (DEC) doesn’t have ownership, but oversees projects and has the authority to issue permits.
The Canal Corporation controls the navigable water in Cayuga Inlet to the Buffalo Street bridge because it is
part of the Erie Canal System. It is estimated that there will be 400,000 cubic yards of sediment to remove,
and a spoil site of 20 to 30 acres will be required for dewatering. Dredging is considered an environmental
issue and an economic development issue. In 1999, ACOE dredged from the fish ladder to the Route 79
bridge, removing 75,000 cubic yards of spoils. The Inlet was last dredged 24 years ago. Testing to date does
not show toxicity in the sediments. If no toxics are detected, the spoils will be categorized as Class A
sediments, which can be hydrologically dredged. If soils are categorized as Class B or C sediments, those
materials will need to be transported to a landfill. Dewatering 400,000 cubic yards of spoils would take two
years to compact before it can be trucked out. DEC is looking for a permanent dredge spoils site, and is
considering the area north of the Festival Lands by Treman Marina. New York State Office of Parks,
Recreation, and Historical Preservation (State Parks) is concerned about this birding area potentially being
used for dewatering, and that would conflict with its Master Plan. Senator Winner’s office is very involved
in helping the City find dewatering site(s). Spoils sites must be within one mile of dredge sites so that
ACOE/Canal Corporation can be used (the limiting factor is the vacuum hoses). The bank of Cass Park is
also being considered, since it has eroded approximately six feet in the past 10 years, and extension of
Stewart Park to a containment dike is also being examined. Regular meetings have been held with
representatives from Senator Winner’s office, State Parks, DEC, New York State Department of
Transportation, and the Canal Corporation.
Lisa provided a handout of the technical scope for planning and design, which includes tasks to be complete
prior to dredging. The planning phase is funded by a grant from the Environmental Protection Fund. The
study will determine dredging areas in creeks, classes of soils, disposal sites, environmental impacts,
revegetation and redesign plans for dewatering sites, and need for underwater restoration. Long term, ways
need to be found to decrease sedimentation so dredging is needed less frequently.
In response to member questions, the presenters said the 20 acres needed for dewatering could be more than
one site, and represents about twice the size of the Festival Lands, which is 14 acres. The anticipated
dewatering site is for a 12-foot depth of dredged material, which will compact to six feet. Boats will be able
to pass by the dredging equipment while dredging is underway. Dumping the dredged material deeper into
the lake will be examined. A certain depth is required in the flood control channel, so it can’t just be allowed
to fill up with sediment.
Dan Karig inquired how the WRC Dredging Committee can best interact with the City, and when the City
expects to hire a consultant. He also requested copy of the EcoLogic report or the grant application. Lisa
said they are in the first stage of hiring an environmental consultant, and she would welcome having a point
person from the WRC to interact with the City’s work group. She will post the grant application on the
City’s website so it is accessible to WRC. The process for hiring the consultant will begin in January.
Dooley Kiefer has information to share on sea lamprey spawning areas, and Joann said they will take that to
the consultant. Frank asked if part of the plan will be discussion on future dredging. Lisa said they need to
help the community begin to understand that dredging is a maintenance activity and find ways to prevent or
reduce sedimentation. Joann pointed out that land areas throughout the County, and those in the Cayuga
Lake watershed, contribute to the need for dredging. Cathy Valentino said the Town of Ithaca is working on
stream setback regulations and improved ditching practices to reduce sediment. Kate Hackett said she would
like Lisa and Joann to do a presentation to the Stormwater Coalition so the members of that group can see the
relationship of their work implementing the Phase 2 Stormwater regulations to this effort. Joann and Lisa
said they have no idea of the cost of dredging, but use of Canal Corporation machinery would help ease the
Dennis Montgomery mentioned Class A spoils can go anywhere, including into the lake, although dump
barges may not be the ideal conveyance. He asked why disposal of soils is different from methods used in
the 1980s. Joann said a member of the DEC fisheries staff was the first person to mention the possibility of
disposing of the spoils in the lake. Regulations have changed significantly since the 1980s. The City used to
dredge the creeks, and has a dredge suitable for use in creeks. Steve Penningroth told Lisa and Joann that the
volunteer monitoring groups work in the creeks, and sometimes may be able to help identify the source of
sediment. Kate Hackett suggested that valley bottom wetlands in the Cayuga Inlet watershed may present an
opportunity to enhance filtration of sediment before it enters Cayuga Lake.
Boatdock Letter – Dan Karig reported this has been a topic of the Cayuga Lake Recreation Committee. The
towns of Ulysses and Lansing are also considering dock regulations. Darby Kiley said the Cayuga Lake
Watershed Intermunicipal Organization (IO) and the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network (Network) staff have
talked about holding a watershed-wide forum on this topic. This will probably take place in March with
guests from the New York State Department of State, Town of Ithaca Planning Department, and
Canandaigua Lake Watershed Task Force. Although uniformity will be encouraged in the Tompkins County
municipalities, Cathy Valentino said that all regulations can be amended to facilitate consistency. It was
agreed to add information on the planned IO/Network-sponsored meeting and send the letter.
Announcement of Elections for Chair and Vice Chair – Linda Wagenet announced the Nominating
Committee has identified the following slate of officers: Frank Proto for Chair, Roxy Johnston for First Vice
Chair, and Barry Goodrich for Second Vice Chair. There were no nominations from the floor, but members
who are interested in being on the slate can still contact Linda. Elections will be held at the January meeting.
Establish January and February, 2007 Meeting Dates – Because the third Mondays of January and
February fall on federal holidays, the meeting dates were moved to January 22 and February 26.
Chair’s Report – Frank announced the County Legislature has approved the WRC slate of appointments.
Frank will swear in new/reappointed members at the January meeting. Dooley Kiefer and Linda Wagenet
have applied for associate membership. Dan Karig moved those appointments, seconded by Jim Dennis and
passed by voice vote. Frank thanked outgoing voting members Dave Morey and Linda Wagenet. Linda
moved to appoint John Andersson as Chair of the Social Committee, which passed by unanimous voice vote
amid cheers, whistles, and huzzahs. Frank asked committee chairs to submit 2006 reports by 1/17 to Kate for
the WRC annual report. Frank made members aware of the possibility of reduced staff support for advisory
boards due to changes in the budget for Tompkins County Planning Department.
Coordinator’s Report – Kate Hackett distributed copies of the Chemung County Soil and Water
Conservation District’s “Stream Processes – A Guide to Living in Harmony with Streams”, which were
obtained by Craig Schutt. A grant application was submitted for development of comprehensive stream
buffers, and Kate has not been notified yet, but is considering working with Finger Lakes Land Trust on
wording for enhanced conservation easements for stream buffers. Steve Penningroth reported on the
Volunteer Monitoring Symposium, which was attended by about 30 volunteers. The symposium was an
opportunity to exchange ideas, ask questions, seek answers, and get energized for continuing the monitoring
programs. Kate said the FYI folder has an article on wetlands from the Izaak Walton League. It includes
information on their website program that allows you to type in your zip code and get information on
invasive species and native plants. Kate and Linda Wagenet visited the Tompkins County Environmental
Management Council (EMC) last week to present information on the monitoring partnership being developed
with Cornell. Heather Filiberto, EMC Coordinator, is leaving TCPD to work at Tompkins County Area
Committee Reports – Cayuga Lake Recreation: Discussion will occur at the January organizational
meeting about setting up a dredging committee. Monitoring: Paul Tunison said they met in November with
Art Lembo about the website. People are getting excited about the numbers being posted, and the committee
will put together a fact sheet to provide some framework for the data. Kate mentioned the Tompkins County
Comprehensive Plan indicators report is coming out, and the data gathered by volunteers provides the only
numbers available re benthic macroinvertibrates, which are used as an indicator. Craig Schutt warned we
need to keep the data relayed in the correct way. Steve Penningroth said he is being extremely careful, and
he is the first line of defense on certification for the website. Craig suggested the Monitoring Committee
would be a good intermediary. Lake Source Cooling: Kate Hackett reported the monitoring group
anticipated needing WRC action on this agreement, but they do not find themselves at that point yet. The
partnership continues to evolve with three components: the monitoring plan, funding, and partners. The goal
is to get a monitoring plan that meets the needs of the partners, then start shopping around for funding. The
Network and IO will broaden the scope of the monitoring plan to include the whole lake.
Adjournment -- The meeting was adjourned at 6:02 PM.
Kathy Wilsea, Planning Department Secretary
Adopted by the Council on January 22, 2007.