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COOPERSTOWN, NY-Theresa Swenson and Kate Kornak will provide a joint presentation on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Wetland Programs, with a particular emphasis on how the regulations relate to water quality and lakeside residences at the Otsego County Water Quality Coordinating Committee (WQCC) public meeting on Wednesday, February 22 at 1 p.m.

Swenson, an Ecologist with the DEC’s Region 4 Office in Stamford, will discuss the agency’s Article 24 Freshwater Wetlands Program, the functions and benefits of wetlands, status and trends in New York State, and common threats and concerns. Kornak, an Environmental Analyst in the DEC Region 4 Schenectady Office, will provide a general overview of the wetland permitting process, with relevant contact information, and other tools available for landowners.

According to the DEC, freshwater wetlands are lands and submerged lands, commonly called marshes, swamps, sloughs, bogs, and flats, supporting aquatic or semi aquatic vegetation. Wetlands provide protection against floods, habitat for wildlife, open space, and water resources. The Article 24 Freshwater Wetlands Program was designed to prevent the destruction of New York State’s freshwater wetlands while allowing for the responsible economic and social development of the state.

“Wetlands act as a sponge to filter runoff from the land and protect our waterways,” said Leslie Orzetti, the Executive Director of the Otsego County Conservation Association. “Permitting is important to protect wetland areas that would otherwise be compromised due to development,” she added.

Swenson formerly worked with the DEC’s Bureau of Wildlife as a Technician concentrating on the monitoring and research of rare bird species. She graduated from SUNY Cobleskill with a Bachelor’s of Technology in Wildlife Management. Kornak recently transferred from DEC region 7, where her territory included large waterbodies such as the Finger Lakes. In region 4, Kate works with the Towns of Springfield, Otsego, and Middlefield. She also operates in Schenectady County.

The WQCC meeting, which begins at 1 p.m. in Classroom A of the Meadows Office building, 140 County Hwy. 33W, Cooperstown, is hosted by the Otsego County Planning Department. The event is free and open to the public; pre-registration is required by Tuesday, February, 21. Those interested in attending should email WQCC Secretary Danny Lapin at planner@occainfo.org or call (607)547-4488.

The Otsego County WQCC was established in 1992 as a sub-committee of the Otsego County Soil and Water Conservation District. It is comprised of a diverse group of people representing state and local government agencies, non-profit organizations, academic institutions, and lake associations. These members have technical expertise and knowledge and are committed to working to improve and maintain the quality of water in Otsego County through the reduction of nonpoint source pollution within its boundaries. For more information on the WQCC, visit: http://www.otsegosoilandwater.com/waterqualitycc.html.

In a project funded through the Upper Susquehanna Coalition to the Otsego County Soil and Water Conservation District, OCCA is helping collect physical data in the Butternut Creek watershed.  The purpose of this study to collect data to identify where best management practices can be implemented to improve water quality in Otsego County and the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  For more information on the project and its progress see the Butternut Valley Alliance website.


This is the first county-wide stream monitoring program entirely carried out by citizen volunteers with OCCA’s coordination in the New York portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Citizen science monitoring has been shown to be an effective way to collect data that might not otherwise be collected, and can help inform environmental policy, provide baseline conditions, and track long-term changes across the landscape.  Coordination for this program would not be possible without the following partners.

Volunteer recruitment is always ongoing.  If you are interested in becoming a citizen monitor, check out our volunteer sheet or call Leslie Orzetti at 607-547-4488.

OCCA is also soliciting business sponsors and donors to help purchase monitoring kits and safety equipment for our volunteers.  If you or a business you know are interested, call OCCA and consider making a donation today!

 Monitoring Parameters

Dissolved oxygen – This is the amount of oxygen available for stream life.  Dissolved oxygen is measured in mg/l.  A typically “good” amount of dissolved oxygen is 5 mg/l and above.

Temperature – The water temperature has an effect on many physiological process of both plants and animals in the stream as well as the water’s ability to “carry” oxygen and other gases.  A general rule of thumb is that cooler water can carry more oxygen.

pH – pH is a measure of the amount of hydrogen ions present in a substance.  In layman’s terms, the amount of hydrogen ions in a substance is what makes a substance an acid or a base.  The more hydrogen ions, the more acidic a substance is.  The pH scale is from 1-14, with lower numbers considered acidic and higher numbers basic.  Water is typically “neutral”, and because of underlying geology, we typically see pH values from 7.5 – 8.5.

Conductivity – This is a measure of the amount of total ions in the water column or the ability of the water to “conduct” electricity.  Things such as road salt, other chemicals and underlying geology can have an effect on conductivity.  In the northern part of the county, where we have limestone, we usually see higher conductivity because limestone breaks down into calcium and carbonate ions.

Water Clarity – Water clarity affects the ability of light to penetrate the water column. It is a measure of how clear or cloudy the water is.  Most of our streams are typically clear unless there is a rain event where excess sediment is washed into the stream and is suspended in the water.  We need clear water for underwater plants and photosynthesizing organisms to be able to grow.

Nitrate and Orthophosphate – These are both nutrients that are found in our waterways.  They are found under natural conditions, but can be elevated when streams drain agricultural fields and suburban lawns.  Plants need nutrients to grow, and in aquatic systems phosphorus is typically a “limiting” nutrient. So, if particularly phosphorus levels are elevated, this can typically lead to increased algal growth in our larger streams and the lakes into which they flow.

Stream Sites

Stream Data

We have completed our first 6 months of data collection….see how we look!