Black River Watershed Management Plan

Black River Adaptive Modeling (BRAM) Project 

Project Description

The 2016 Black River 9 Element plan was developed at the HUC11-scale, which has since been catalogued as legacy (no longer available to track watershed management implementation).
This makes tracking projects and progress within priority subwatersheds difficult, such as agricultural best management practices. The BRAM project will facilitate effective Black River Watershed Management Plan/9 Element plan implementation, leverage state and federal funding, protect drinking water sources, improve impaired waterbodies, and update the Black River 9 Element Watershed Plan with current conditions and watershed management needs.

Phase I (current phase): Engage with the public, review existing data, identify data needs, and identify water quality monitoring needed to support the watershed model.
Phase II (planned): Integrate additional monitoring and develop an adaptive watershed model at the HUC12 scale to evaluate trends and address challenges to the 9E Plan implementation. This phase is not yet funded.

Initial Stakeholder Meeting

Stakeholder Meeting PowerPoint Presentation
Recorded Meeting 

Phase 1 of the BRAM project involves collection of all water quality related data for the Black River watershed. Examples of data that would be helpful for this project include:

• Agricultural practices, HUC12 level (tillage, fertilizer use, best management practices (BMPs), AEM program data)
• Stream or lake monitoring results
• Culvert assessment data
• Watershed BMPs (including forestry BMPs, buffers)
• Nutrient concentrations (phosphorus, nitrogen)
• Sediment concentrations (total dissolved sediment and total suspended sediment)
• Photos

If you have water quality data that you would like to share, please email Jasmine James at [email protected].
Please direct any other questions to Gabriel Yerdon at [email protected].

Planning Committee Contacts:

Emily Fell, NYS Water Resources Institute at Cornell University and NYSDEC
Great Lakes Program, (315) 785-2382, [email protected]

Nichelle Swisher, Lewis County Soil and Water Conservation District,
(315) 782-2749, [email protected]

Caitlin Stewart, Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District
(518) 548-3991, [email protected]

Patrick Crast, Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District,
(315) 782-2749, [email protected]

Jasmine James, Ramboll, [email protected]

Tony Eallonardo, Ramboll, [email protected]

Sheila Hess, CC Environment and Planning, [email protected]

Gabriel Yerdon, NYS Tug Hill Commission, (315) 785-2387, [email protected]

Jennifer Harvill, NYS Tug Hill Commission, (315) 785-2392, [email protected]




Executive Summary – May 2010

Final Report Part I – May 2010

Final Report Part II –  Appendices – May 2010

Black River Nine Element Watershed Management Plan (Addendum) – June 2016

Final Groundwater Assessment Report December 2008

Comments or questions about these documents should be directed to Jennifer Harvill or Katie MalinowskiThe Black River Watershed Initiative encompasses both a Black River Watershed Management Plan, which focuses on the enhancement, protection and improvement of water quality in the Black River Watershed, and three additional studies which will provide a more in-depth understanding of the watershed. The three additional studies include a Socioeconomic Characterization of the Watershed, a Stakeholder Outreach report and a Groundwater Assessment. The intent of these “sister projects” is to strengthen our understanding of the Black River Watershed by learning about its inhabitants, understanding socioeconomic trends such as population and job statistics, and more fully characterizing groundwater resources. The overall goal of the initiative is to ensure that the resource, the Black River and its drainage area, and the quality of water within it, are protected and improved wherever possible, and that the resource continues to provide for the needs of those that depend on it for their livelihoods, well being and recreational opportunities.Preparation and implementation of the Black River Watershed Management Plan will advance the protection and restoration of water quality and ensure compatible land use development, helping to protect the River’s scenic and natural resources. The planning process will include building community consensus; watershed characterization; inventory of existing conditions; identification of problems and opportunities; identification of land and water use controls and institutional arrangements for water quality management; and identification of specific resource protection and management needs.

The Black River watershed spans Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis and Oneida counties. The Black River, a designated Blueway Trail, is a major destination for scenic viewing, fishing and water-based recreation, including kayaking and rafting, which are significant contributors to the local and regional economies in the Tug Hill and Adirondack regions. The river is a major tributary of Lake Ontario and also serves as the drinking water supply for the City of Watertown and Fort Drum.

Preparation of the Black River Watershed Management Plan is being coordinated by the Lewis County Soil & Water Conservation District. The plan is being prepared through consultant services (Bergmann Associates, along with Camoin Associates) procured by the Town of Grieg and overseen by a Project Advisory Committee, which includes numerous agencies and stakeholders from each of the Black River counties. It is funded with monies from two Environmental Protection Fund grants to the Town of Greig and matching funds from the Black River Advisory Committee Fund (Brookfield Power) and Senator Griffo. A National Fish & Wildlife Foundation grant, as was secured by the Tug Hill Commission for the three additional studies being completed as part of this initiative.

Two page summary of the Black River Watershed Management Plan (PDF file)Socioeconomic Characterization and Appendix (PDF file) (final)
The purpose of this socioeconomic study is to provide a more thorough understanding of demographic and economic trends in the Black River Watershed that will inform the Black River Watershed Management Plan.Groundwater Assessment (final) (PDF file)
This report provides a summary of identified aquifers, utilization of groundwater resources, and an evaluation of future expansion and protection for groundwater resources within the Black River Watershed.Stakeholder Outreach Report (final) (PDF file)
In order to adequately educate the public and interested agencies about the project, learn from their experiences about key issues and concerns facing the region, and identify potential actions to take in the future, four different methods of outreach were held in the beginning of this planning process and reported on in this document. Three identical Visioning Workshops were held in three locations throughout the watershed in May of 2008. Following the Visioning Workshops, six focus groups were identified for an additional level of meetings which concentrated on specific topic areas of particular importance and relevance to the Black River Watershed planning area. Steering Committee meetings with project partners were held at various milestones in the planning process. Finally, public informational meetings were held to present the final results of the groundwater analysis, Socio-Economic Analysis, and to present an update of the Watershed Management Plan.