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Water: Nonpoint Source Success Stories

New York (Section 319I - 1994)

New York has identified nonpoint sources as the primary cause of water quality problems in 91 percent of its priority waterbodies. The state's Nonpoint Source Management Program provides a blueprint for dealing with nonpoint source pollution. Funding through section 319 has enabled the state to implement many management program recommendations and to begin to address problems on priority segments. Efforts to improve water quality are underway on waterbodies with statewide or national significance--Long Island Sound, Onondaga Lake, Lake Champlain, and the Great Lakes areas. The state has created a framework to - efficiently fund projects on smaller watersheds as well.

New York is coordinating more than 50 nonpoint source programs and numerous federal, state, and local agencies. Priority source categories include agriculture, on-site septic systems, construction, and diffuse urban runoff, with section 319 funds contributing to each. In addition, by convincing agencies to shift emphasis or refocus - efforts, New York has been able to implement an integrated NPS control program, with section 319-funded staff making coordination a reality.

Agencies Coordinate to Rout Runoff

Although many state waterbodies suffer from stormwater runoff in developed areas, New York is focusing on preventing new development from causing further problems. The effort to control construction site runoff and install permanent controls aims to prevent problems during construction and once construction is complete. The following activities, using some $285,000 in section 319 funds, are highlights of New York's extensive information and education program to control stormwater runoff from new development. The state's basic tools are two manuals on stormwater runoff and erosion and sediment control. New York Guidelines for Urban Erosion and Sediment Control was originally developed by SCS. In 1991, section 319 funded $30,000 to reprint the manual, which contains standards and specifications for erosion and sediment control measures common to construction sites. Over 4,000 copies were sent to erosion and sediment control professionals and federal, state, and local government units in New York State.

The manual, which includes both vegetative and structural measures (permanent and temporary), has been a valuable tool for planners, engineers, local officials, contractors, and others responsible for development.

With some $130,000 in section 319 funds, the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) produced Reducing the Impacts of Stormwater Runoff from New Development. Funds were used for research, writing and editing, and production. The manual describes water quality problems caused by urban runoff and management practices to prevent these problems, and it suggests performance standards for local governments to assure that practices are installed. The manual also contains a model ordinance that can be adopted by local governments. In June 1992, copies of the manual were sent to over 1,500 chief elected officials of local governments.

With some $50,000 in section 319 funds, DEC regional staff worked directly with local governments, explaining the advantages of local ordinances and assisting them in developing their own. From October 1992 through March 1994, staff members made approximately 250 contacts with local officials. About a half-dozen towns have adopted the model ordinance and a number of others are in the process.

Training is an important part of any prevention program. From 1991 through 1994, SCS conducted over 110 training sessions for a total of 4,000 people--ranging from local officials and consultants to local governments to federal and state agency staff. Sessions included

  • 22 one-day erosion and sediment control training sessions for agency and local government personnel. The basic course covered factors that influence - erosion, elements of a sound control plan, SCS standards and specifications, and hands-on - development of conceptual erosion and sediment control plans for two development site examples.
  • 17 two-day advanced erosion and sediment control field workshops, focusing on developing a control plan for an actual construction site. Workshops included evaluating potential problems in the field, planning management practices to address specific site needs, and designing temporary and permanent erosion and sediment control practices using a team approach.
  • 6 one- and two-day training sessions on hydraulic and hydrologic computations for technical personnel involved with SCS Technical Release 55. Participants learned to compute the total runoff and peak runoff for small urban watersheds.
  • 3 two-day training sessions for New York Department of Transportation design staff, as part of a major interagency effort to introduce regional staff to stormwater management concepts. Topics included erosion and sediment control standards, a conceptual plan for controlling erosion and stormwater runoff at road construction sites, a hands-on design problem requiring oral group - presentations, and a similar design problem for highway stormwater management.
  • 3 three-day urban stormwater, erosion, and sediment control short courses through Syracuse University's Continuing Engineering Education Program. Seminars discussed legislation, ordinances, and the new stormwater regulation for sediment control, stormwater management practices, and urban hydrology and resource protection.

Through cooperative agreements, $45,000 in section 319 funds have contributed to the more than $94,000 cost of this training. SCS also received $11,000 in section 319 funds to produce two sets of fact sheets on erosion/ - sediment control and stormwater management and a slide/tape show to help DEC regional staff explain the - advantages of local stormwater management programs. The prevention effort has not ignored the general public. With $5,000 of 319 funds, a cooperative agreement enabled the Sea Grant Extension Program to stencil storm drains in upstate New York with messages such as "Don't Dump: Drains to River" and "Don't Dump: Drains to Drinking Water." The storm drain stenciling program was promoted as "Gutter Talk" on 750,000 milk cartons. Volunteer groups--such as the Boy Scouts, garden clubs, and local public works departments-helped with the physical labor and education campaign. In a single afternoon, 750 storm drains were stenciled in Watertown near Lake Ontario, with Mayor Jeffrey Graham kicking off the event by stenciling the first drain.

Since Sea Grant initiated the project in 1992 in the Long Island Sound area, more than 1,981 stencils have been used by 178 community groups, local municipalities, and schools in 29 counties in the marine and Great Lakes regions and New York City. Also working with the Connecticut Sea Grant Program, some $14,000 in section 319 funds produced a video entitled Luck Isn't Enough: The Fight for Clean Water. The video was originally produced to interest community groups in nonpoint source pollution and environmental issues. However, because of its great success, the video may be used nationally as a public education tool.

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