Committee Background and General History

The OCWC came out of the ‘Caring for Creeks’ Conference in 1998 hosted by the Rochester Area Community Foundation (RACF) now known as the Community Foundation. The Committee was formed that year as a result of interested parties attending a break out session about the Oatka Creek at the conference. Wishing the Committee to become firmly established, the Community Foundation provided direction and assistance and offered to financially sponsor the Committee’s initial activities. The Committee then gave a presentation at the second “Caring for Creeks Conference” (again hosted by the RACF). Since that time, with continued sponsorship from RACF and others, the Committee has been able to complete the development of a watershed management plan.

Some Accomplishments

State of the Basin Report

The State of the Basin Report was developed and published under the direction of the OCWC with funding from the RACF. Tim Tatakis, Ph.D. of Monroe Community College researched, compiled and wrote the Report published in 2003. It covers a wide variety of issues concerning the Oatka Watershed. It was an important document that was used in development of the ‘Characterization Report’, an initial part of the Watershed Management Plan.

Monitoring & Resource Inventory included in the State of the Basin Report

The Committee has used information gathered from the flow monitoring at Garbutt (continuous from 1945, Monroe Health taking water quality data from 1997) and Warsaw (since 1963)-which is done as a joint effort by USGS and the Army Corps of Engineers-the Corps uses the information in maintaining the dam at Mt. Morris.

OCWC has also incorporated into the State of the Basin Report the NYSDEC RIBS (Rotating Intensive Basin Surveys) monitoring data pertaining to the Oatka Creek. Sites listed in this report are: Oatka Creek in Scottsville (Garbutt again), Oatka Creek in Warsaw and in LeRoy (though the LeRoy site has not been sampled recently). The report from 2001 found that biologically, the Scottsville site was “not impacted” and the Warsaw site was “slightly impacted”. These sites were revisited as part of the Genesee Basin report in 2004-2006 (includes chemistry, vertebrate population, toxicity and sediments).

Monroe Co./USGS Water Quality Monitoring information from Garbutt has also been used in the State of the Basin Report. Monroe County Health Department has been monitoring nutrients and sediments since 1997.

Trace Metals Study: This report was funded by RACF and Monroe County Environmental Health Laboratory under the direction of the OCWC. It was conducted by Carolyn Dowling of the University of Rochester and published in 2001. It covered 26 sites, starting at the headwaters and following significant sites down the entire length of the creek. Tests were conducted to find levels of a wide variety of metals. This report found the creek to be “non impacted” except for a couple of sites where there may be some impact. Good background information that is included as an appendix in the State of the Basin Report.

Additional Studies and Reports

Additional Studies and projects have taken place since the State of the Basin was published. SWCDs and other government agencies have assisted the Committee in trying to get information that was ‘missing’ for the State of the Basin Report. These include:

Outreach Program: A Report on Phase I: This report was compiled from information gathered from municipal officials whose towns and villages are located within the Oatka Creek watershed. This survey was taken following presentations to these municipalities by the OCWC in the later part of 2001 and early 2002. The outreach program and survey as well as the ensuing report were developed by Tim Tatakis, Ph.D.

Stream Bank Assessments: Monroe County was the first county in the watershed to undertake an inventory of the Oatka’s channel and stream banks (in 1999). Monroe SWCD did visual assessments of 10 sites in Wheatland and 4 sites in Scottsville. Genesee and Wyoming Counties completed similar assessments in the fall of 2003. Jill Babinski, then an intern from SUNY Geneseo, evaluated 68 sites while working for Genesee County SWCD. These assessments describe severity of stream bank erosion and channel obstruction at the listed sites. She concluded that the erosion was most commonly caused by lawn mowing practices and some farming practices.

Flood Study Evaluation: Genesee and Wyoming Counties worked together on a joint Flood Mitigation Plan under the direction of David Zorn and the Genesee Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council. They looked at issues involving flooding in the Oatka and Tonawanda watersheds and developed a plan with recommendations for minimizing flood damage within the respective watersheds. This was completed in Sept 2003.

Stressed Stream Analysis: Genesee and Wyoming Counties (through the SWCDs) dedicated funding to a water quality sampling study. SUNY Brockport Professor Joseph Makarewicz directed this effort along with Ted Lewis. Whenever there was a significant runoff event, students took samples from 34 designated sites. The samples were analyzed for phosphorus, nitrogen, sodium and total suspended solids. The data has been compiled, hot spots identified, and a report was submitted in August of 2004.

Great Lakes Basin Program for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control project: This project was conducted under the direction of the Genesee Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council. A detailed assessment was made of erosion and sediment trouble spots (many identified in the Stream Bank Assessment listed above) along the Oatka and Black Creeks. This information was used to make recommendations about the impacted areas. A survey was developed by G/FLRPC with the help of the OCWC and the Black Creek Watershed Coalition that helped G/FLRPC to evaluate local laws that impact water quality. G/FLRPC provided recommendations and assistance to participating watershed municipalities.

Support for projects

Lake Ontario Genesee River Basin BMP Implementation Grant: The Monroe, Genesee and Wyoming SWCDs submitted a proposal for grant money to help participating farms in the Oatka, Black Creek and Salmon Creek Watersheds implement projects outlined in their BMP plans. The OCWC had pledged support for this application.

Outreach Activities

Caring for Creeks II: gave presentation on Creek

1st phase municipal outreach: introduced Committee to municipal officials and surveyed them. Resulted in the publication of “Outreach Program: A Report on Phase I”

2nd phase municipal outreach: presented the State of the Basin Report, and the ‘Call for Cooperation” to solicit membership from municipalities also information on intermunicipal agreements

Oatka Guide: developed and published a historical/physical guide


Website, Blog and Facebook page

Festival Informational Booths

Presentations to local civics groups


Excellence in Planning Award from the Wyoming County Planning Board 2001