Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper has recently completed a regional, community based initiative to develop a Niagara River watershed plan (Healthy Niagara) that focused on action steps to protect and restore water resources in our community and the watershed.  Financial support for the development of the plan was provided by the New York State Department of State with funds provided under Title 11 of the Environmental Protection Fund.  Other project partners included the Town of Tonawanda and the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning.

The Niagara River watershed (in New York State) is approximately 903,000 acres and consists of eleven sub-watersheds in Erie, Niagara, Genesee, Wyoming, and Orleans counties. These sub-watersheds are: Buffalo Creek, Buffalo River, Cayuga Creek, Eighteenmile Creek, Ellicott Creek, Lower Tonawanda Creek, Middle Tonawanda Creek, Upper Tonawanda Creek, Murder Creek, Niagara River, and Smokes Creek.  Please click here to view a map of the Niagara River watershed and sub-watersheds as part of the Citizens Guide to the Watershed.

The planning process included a review of existing data and information; an inventory and summary of existing watershed physical, biological, and ecological conditions; and identification of problems and opportunities.  From this work a report was compiled to provide a Phase 1 Watershed Management Plan for the Niagara River Watershed. The plan provides watershed stakeholders and citizens with current information on the health of the watershed, recommends what can be done to improve water quality, and inform citizens as to how they can be involved in watershed protection and restoration.  The final Watershed Management Plan is provided below.

Due to file size, each chapter of the plan is available for download via the links below.

Cover, Acknowledgments, & Table of Contents.

Chapter 1 – Introduction & Methodology. The intro of the report outlines what a watershed is and why planning for watershed health is important. The planning process and methodology is also outlined in this chapter.

Chapter 2 – Characterization. This chapter outlines the current context of the watershed, including its geographic setting, geology, topography, hydrology, climate and precipitation, and other related infrastructure influencing our waters.

Chapter 3 – Population & Development. Building on the context of Chapter 2, this chapter outlines the current demographics and population trends in the watershed, as well as how land is utilized and how much of it is protected as these are major elements influencing our water resources.

Chapter 4 – Water Quality. Reporting on the most current data and analyses, this chapter outlines our water quality conditions and identifies the most significant impairments found in the watershed today.

Chapter 5 – Ecology & Biology. Ecological health and biological indicators are another way of assessing the health of the overall watershed and identifying what factors are contributing to its decline. This chapter outlines the ecological resources found in the watershed and the important habitat assessment work conducted under the Niagara River Habitat Conservation Strategy.

Chapter 6 – Laws & Practices. Laws and practices governing how we utilize our land and resources in the watershed are also essential to understanding what factors influence watershed health. This chapter looks at all of the regulatory and non-regulatory practices found in the watershed.

Chapter 7 – Watershed Projects. This chapter outlines all of the current and recently completed water-related projects within the watershed, including those associated with infrastructure and research. State and local projects are also included in this inventory (where provided).

Chapter 8 – Key Findings, Recommendations & Universal Actions. This chapter outlines all of the findings from the preceding chapters of the report and identifies recommendations and universal actions to address the issues presented. The 11 sub-watersheds are also prioritized in this chapter according to the findings and the top 8 sub-watersheds are identified for future planning.

Chapter 9 – Management Plan Phase II Strategy. This final chapter of the report outlines the next steps needed for continued watershed management planning in the Niagara River watershed, including an Inter-municipal Coordinating Organization and Phase II planning elements.

Bibliography.

Appendices.

Further Information

During the development of the Niagara River Watershed Management Plan (Phase 1), an impressive collection of existing plans, studies, reports, data, information and maps were gathered and reviewed to help establish the overall physical, biological and ecological conditions of the Niagara River Watershed. This Atlas is a full assembly of these resources, providing a comprehensive record of previous watershed efforts utilized in the watershed management planning process. The full Atlas is available here.

Please see the Citizen’s Guide to the Watershed Plan to get an overview of the Niagara River Watershed, findings, universal actions, and how you might get involved to support watershed health!

For additional information, please contact:

Joel Bernosky
Program Manager
(716) 852-7483 ext 17
jbernosky@bnriverkeeper.org