The Seneca Watershed Intermunicipal Organization (SWIO) is conducting a search for the new watchdog/advocate to protect Seneca Lake as a clean source of water. According to Mark Venuti, chair of SWIO, State Sen. Pam Helming got $110 million in Clean Water funds tucked in the state budget, and $200,000 of that is earmarked for the Town of Geneva to hire the Seneca Watershed Steward, and to fund program efforts. The SWIO Steward is a full-time, benefits-eligible, administrative salaried position for $59,000 per year. Venuti says Hobart & William Smith Colleges will manage payroll and the Finger Lakes Institute (FLI) will provide office space. Venuti says this arrangement of support relieves SWIO of the burden of administration and paying for office space.
Venuti says he expects the steward will report day-to-day to Dr. Lisa Cleckner, Director of the FLI, and to the SWIO governance group as an executive committee. SWIO hopes to fill the position by the end of January, and already has six applicants for the post.
According to the request for applications, the Seneca Watershed Steward will work on behalf of SWIO to “identify and implement projects in the watershed and lake to improve the water quality of Seneca Lake. The watershed steward will be the “on the ground” Seneca Lake expert and work with a number of different stakeholder groups, including the Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association, county governments, water purveyors, business and tourism entities, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, agricultural producers, academic institutions, Keuka Lake (part of the Seneca Lake watershed) organizations, and citizens to ensure that the lake remains a Class AA drinking water source. An annual work plan for this position will be developed in consultation with a small governance group (five members) from intermunicipal groups of Seneca and Keuka Lakes, watershed associations of Seneca and Keuka Lakes, and the Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.”