Oatka Creek Watershed Management Plan – An Introduction
Ever since the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972 and the introduction of the federal Clean Water Act Enforcement Action Plan of 1998, much attention has been paid to the condition and quality of the Great Lakes. Many collaborative efforts involving government, business, non-profits, and other organizations have been aimed at improving and maintaining acceptable water quality in the Lakes.
A 1981 report by the Water Quality Board of the International Joint Commission found the Rochester Embayment Area of Lake Ontario to be an “Area of Concern” with “remedial action plan not developed and remedial measures not fully implemented…”
The Oatka Creek Watershed is one of the major sub-watersheds of the Genesee River Basin, which in turn is a major drainage basin in the Rochester Embayment area. In 1998, the Rochester Area Community Foundation (RACF) hosted a “Caring for Creeks” conference at which the Oatka Creek Watershed was discussed. As a result of interest generated by the conference, the Oatka Creek Watershed Committee, Inc. (OCWC) was formed later that year to investigate and advocate ways to protect and improve the health of the Oatka Creek Watershed by means of watershed planning. RACF sponsored the formation and early work of the OCWC through the Great Lakes Community Foundations Environmental Collaborative.
In 2002, under the auspices of the OCWC, Timothy A. Tatakis, Ph.D. of Monroe Community College researched, compiled, and wrote the Oatka “State of the Basin” report. This report was considered to be the first step in formulating a comprehensive watershed management plan for the Oatka Creek Watershed. Subsequently, the OCWC worked with the Genesee / Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council (G/FLRPC) to further develop and write a watershed management plan that was to be the culmination of several years of study of the Oatka watershed. Intermunicipal agreements were signed by counties and participating towns and villages in late 2003 through mid 2004. An outline for the Oatka Creek Watershed Management Plan was adopted in May 2006.
Later in 2006, guided by the G/FLRPC, the OCWC joined with the Black Creek Watershed Coalition(BCWC) to explore funding options to further each group’s work. They approached the the Town of Wheatland for support in securing a federal Environmental Protection Fund grant. On behalf of the groups, the Wheatland Town Board applied for and received funding for a project that unltimately resulted in a finished watershed document for each of the two watersheds. The “Intermunicipal Planning for the Black & Oatka Creek Watersheds” project had funding administered through the New York State Department of State Division of Coastal Resources and was directed by the G/FLRPC. The project commenced with a scoping meeting in June of 2009 and completed watershed plans for both the Oatka and Black Creek Watersheds where submitted to the State in September 2014.