Article: WHAT IS SWIO?
WHAT IS SWIO?
An Introduction to the Seneca Watershed Intermunicipal Organization
Mark Venuti, SWIO Chair
*Taken from the SPECIAL EDITION: Supporting the Seneca Watershed Intermunicipal Organization from Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association.
Seneca Watershed Intermunicipal Organization (SWIO) - it’s a mouthful and spellcheck will tell you intermunicipal is not a word. Yet here we are, and we go with SWIO to save our breath. So why is there a SWIO?
In 1998, representatives from the five counties in the Seneca Lake watershed - Chemung, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca and Yates – formed an organization, called the Seneca Lake Area Partners in Five Counties (SLAP-5), to address watershed concerns. However, in New York land use is primarily regulated by cities, towns and villages. In 2015, it was evident those local municipalities had to be involved to understand and deal with practical issues that affect water quality. The Seneca Watershed Plan that was completed in 2015 also recommended a move to a municipal organization, so SWIO was created and replaced SLAP-5.
By 2019, all five counties and 21 of the 40 other municipalities in the watershed had signed the Memorandum of Understanding to join SWIO. SWIO was meeting quarterly and discussing issues like model septic system regulations, lake friendly zoning codes, and working with county Soil and Water Conservation Districts to support education and best management practices for farmers and others to improve the quality of the water flowing into Seneca Lake. This grand lake, now the center of Finger Lakes wine country and tourism, was showing the strain of nutrient loading and other impurities with harmful algal blooms and other negative impacts.