Monroe County, NY

Citizen Action and Volunteer Monitoring

What You Can Do To Protect Lake Ontario and the Genesee River

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If you live in Monroe County, all the water that passes through your home and lawn will eventually end up in Lake Ontario or the Genesee River. That means what you do in your home has a big impact on water quality. You can help improve the water quality of the river and lake.

  1. Keep household hazardous waste out of storm drains. The storm drains in front of your house usually end up in a stream or other waterway. Take used motor oil to a gas station for recycling. Other hazardous wastes, such as antifreeze, unused pesticides and paint, can be taken to the Monroe County Household Hazardous Waste Facility for proper disposal. Call (585) 753-7600 (Option #3) for an appointment.
  2. If you have a septic system, have it cleaned out every two to three years and check for leaks. You can call the Monroe County Health Department at (585) 753-5060 if you suspect you have a leak.
  3. Keep animal waste out of streams and waterways. When you walk your pets, pick up pet waste whenever possible. Avoid feeding waterfowl since their waste add bacteria and other harmful pathogens to water.
  4. Keep your lawn clippings on your lawn after mowing. This is not only easy to do, but the grass clippings will serve as fertilizer for your lawn as they decompose, reducing your need to apply fertilizer. Eliminate or minimize your fertilizer and pesticide usage. If you do use lawn chemicals, keep them off sidewalks and driveways and out of storm drains.
  5. If you live near a stream ... plant trees or shrubs near the stream instead of grass. They will help stabilize the banks and shade the water, keeping it cool for fish.
  6. Do you dismantle autos or perform extensive repairs on vehicles at your home? If so, you should be aware that you have a responsibility under the law to prevent automotive fluids from entering surface water or groundwater. There are easy ways that you can recycle the fluids and some parts from dismantled autos. There are also some important Dos and Don’ts in our “Do-It-Yourself Mechanics” document.

Visit the Cornell Cooperative Extension-Monroe County, NY website.

Informational Documents

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Community WaterWatch (Volunteer Stream Monitoring)

The Community WaterWatch program is a volunteer activity involving the residents of Monroe County in efforts to improve and sustain the quality of the waterways in our community.

Monitoring is essential in the process of identifying water quality problems and trends. Although many government agencies conduct regular monitoring, smaller streams are often not monitored because of limited resources. The Community WaterWatch program aims to fill these gaps with local resident participation.

Do you belong to any business, civic, recreation, religious or youth organization or homeowners’ association? Would you like to do something to help improve water quality? Then consider participating in the Community WaterWatch program.

For more information please call 585 274-7638.

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A Primer On Water Quality

Find the short and easy-to-read answers to the following questions in the USGS Water Quality Report (680k PDF):

  • What is in the water?
  • What do we mean by water quality?
  • How is water quality measured?
  • Why do we have water-quality standards and guidelines?
  • How do natural processes affect water quality?
  • What is naturally in the water?
  • How do human activities affect water quality?
  • What about bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens in water?
  • How can I find out more about my water quality?

Download A Primer On Water Quality USGS Report (680k PDF).

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Educational Videos

Two videos are available to educators in the community:

  • Water Quality and You (17 minutes)
    Describes actions that Monroe County residents can take to protect water quality.
  • Our Water Resources (18 minutes)
    Promotes stewardship of water resources in the Monroe County area.

The videos were produced in cooperation with Penfield Community Television and are appropriate for students in Grade 5 and higher, and adults.

For copies of either video, call 585 274-8440.

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Newsletters and Articles

Watershed is a newsletter for the watersheds of the Genesee River and the Rochester Embayment. It is a biannual publication of the Bureau of Environmental Quality and it provides a forum for water quality agencies and organizations in a six-county area.

Working Together to Improve Water Quality in Monroe County is a joint publication of Monroe County and the U.S. Geological Survey; see Previous Issues below.

For further information, or to be placed on the mailing list, call 585 274-7638 or e-mail us.

Previous Issues

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Brockport Environmental News, 2001-2002 Hazardous Waste Sites

The Monroe County Department of Health conducted an educational outreach project in the Village of Brockport related to two inactive hazardous waste sites. The outreach addressed residents’ health-related concerns due to the presence of the sites. The project was initiated in June 2000 with funding from the National Association of City and County Health Officials.

Brockport was chosen for this project because of the high level of interest demonstrated by residents about the former 3M/Dynacolor site and the former G.E. and Black and Decker site, and the effect that the clean up of these sites will have on lives of residents. The contamination from these two sites has affected neighboring areas, impacting surface soil of bordering residential properties, groundwater migrating under the Erie Barge Canal and under a neighborhood north of the waste sites, and the sediment in a small tributary to Brockport Creek. This tributary flows through Brockport and several residents’ yards before it meets with Brockport Creek.

A group that included residents and representatives from local governments and state agencies guided the educational process. The strategy was based on information gathered through a written survey and a public meeting. Part of the strategy was a periodic newsletter that focused on environmental health topics such as exposure routes, chemical descriptions of the contaminants present on- and off-site and their associated potential health effects. The newsletter also listed other sources of information on chemicals and potential health effects.

For further information, call 585 274-6397.

Previous Issues

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