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LEWPA Municipal Training Resources

The Lake Erie Watershed Protection Alliance (LEWPA) would like to share information with elected officials and municipal workers about local water quality issues. Many water quality issues are impacted by land-use, tax, development, and maintenance decisions. Because things are so interconnected, we want to help you make informed decisions. We recognize that getting together for hours of training can be difficult at times. These shorter videos are designed to be watched on your own time to give you an overview of some of the issues. A list of resources is provided below if you have additional questions. We intend to add new videos over time with new topics. You can also view LEWPA's Youtube channel for other informational videos. 

Watershed 101 Overview - This video is a great place to start. Designed with Supervisors and Mayors in mind, this gives an overview of watershed principles suitable for anyone in municipal or regional government including code enforcement.

Video made by Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper with funding from the Lake Erie Watershed Protection Alliance as provided by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Environmental Protection Fund. 

Watershed 101 for Planning, Zoning, and Town Boards - This video begins like the Watershed 101 Overview video but describes tools that board members can use to address water quality issues. 

Video made by Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper with funding from the Lake Erie Watershed Protection Alliance as provided by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Environmental Protection Fund.

Highway Ditch Maintenance - This video recording of a webinar on August 19, 2020 describes roadside ditch maintenance practices and replumbing. David Orr, PE from Cornell University and the Local Roads Program discusses their survey of ditch management practices in NYS and an example of a watershed replumbing project in a local county. Great for highway folks and others looking to understand how drainage ditches function. Contact your local Soil & Water Conservation District if you'd like assistance hydroseeding your ditches after cleaning them.

Video courtesy of the Upper Susquehanna Coalition and the Otsego County Conservation Alliance. Check out their other videos as well.

Please take a minute to fill out a quick feedback form to let us know your water quality training needs or to add yourself to a municipal training email notification list.

If you'd like to receive a form to request credit for watching these videos, please email You may also email your Board Chair or Town Clerk to request up to 1 hour of credit for watching these videos.

Resources for more information:

At the end of the videos, you'll notice organizations listed for more information (included below as well). If you have any questions, please reach out to one of these organizations:

Lake Erie Watershed Protection Alliance – The mission of LEWPA is to foster collaboration and partnerships within the watershed to address regional water quality and water quantity concerns and in doing so, protect and enhance our Lake Erie resource.  LEWPA has funding from the NYS Environmental Protection Fund for water quality improvement projects in Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, and Erie Counties and is working on a Nine-Element Watershed Management Plan for the region.

Contact the LEWPA Coordinator

Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper - The mission of BNW is to protect and restore our water and surrounding ecosystems for the benefit of current and future generations. BNW does everything from shoreline restoration, to planning and development for water-related projects.

Contact Jeanne Beiter at

County Cornell Cooperative Extensions – CCE brings local experience and research-based solutions together, helping New York State families and communities thrive in our rapidly changing world.  CCE programming provides educational opportunities to help people, individually and collectively, make sound decisions about their lives, businesses, and communities; and develop economically, socially, and culturally.

County Planning Departments – County Planning Departments assist with a wide variety of planning, zoning, economic development and land use issues based on the needs of the local municipalities. In coordination with the County Legislatures, municipal planning offices and residents, a community vision is implemented through various supported initiatives, programs, trainings, and projects.

County Soil and Water Conservation Districts - Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) are resource management agencies, coordinating and implementing resource and environmental programs at the local level in cooperation with the state and federal agencies.  They are often more agriculturally and rural land-owner focused and can help with infrastructure-related projects.

County Water Quality Committees - identify existing efforts, and make them known to each other, without adding another level of bureaucracy. These committees intend to maximize public efforts by various agencies and organizations and provide a resource that can adapt state and federal programs to local needs.

Lake Erie Management Commission – The mission of the LEMC is to identify, prioritize, and recommend projects for the protection and enhancement of water related resources that promote a safe and healthy environment for all within the Chautauqua County Lake Erie Watershed.

Contact LEMC Coordinator, Dave McCoy, at

Land Conservancies – Assist landowners and municipalities in helping to protect valuable open space, habitat, and agricultural land.

Municipal flooding issues - You can reach out to your local Floodplain Administrator, named in your local Flood Damage Prevention Law, for more information on flooding issues in your municipality.

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation - The DEC oversees that the Clean Water Act is carried out within the state; this includes certain water-related permits such as point source SPDES permits.  They are also a source to report any major water quality issues to and regulate certain wetlands.  The DEC also has a Great Lakes Watershed Program that works to protect and restore water quality and ecosystem integrity. The Program assists communities with planning, connecting with partners, and identifying funding and other resources to support local water quality projects.

In addition, DEC has an environmental mapper that shows NYS regulated wetlands, federally regulated wetlands, waterways and water quality classifications, generalized locations of animals and plants that are rare, Endagered, or Threatened in NY, and significant natural communities such as rare high-quliaty forests and habitats that can be utilized when considering projects in your municipality. Instructions on how to utilize the mapper.

United States Army Corps of Engineers – USACE oversees other water-related permits such as for dredging or filling, which can often be part of restoration projects.  They also regulate work in wetlands and navigable waters.  The mission is to maintain the environment and water resources and its coastal management roles include navigation, erosion control, flooding and habitat restoration.

Contact to reach the Buffalo District office.

Western New York Stormwater Coalition - The 43 municipal agencies that comprise the Coalition collaborate to meet the requirements of their individual NYS SPDES MS4 Stormwater permits. The majority of shared work encompasses public education and outreach, employee education and training, storm sewer system mapping and illicit discharge detection and elimination.

Contact Mary MacSwan, WNYSC Coordinator