ENVIRONMENT: Questions on care of Hemlock, Canadice land

The City of Rochester still maintains the land around Hemlock and Canadice Lakes. PHOTO BY MATT DETURCK

BY JEREMY MOULE

Two years ago, the state bought city-owned land around Hemlock and Canadice Lakes. Rochester had acquired some of properties more than a century previous in order to protect its drinking water supply.

The state may own the land, but the city still maintains it. The state pays the city to perform tasks including mowing and unplugging culverts. The arrangement was supposed to be temporary, though, and the city has already made the state’s money last longer than originally intended. It’s not clear what happens after that money runs out, which will be either later this year or early next year, says Bob Morrison, the city’s director of water.

Some of the maintenance work, like unplugging the culverts under trails, is done to maintain water quality, Morrison says.

But this is not a fight between the city and state; the issue is long-term planning and resources. The State Department of Environmental Conservation is developing a plan for managing what’s now called the Hemlock-Canadice State Forest. The plan will detail the tasks and investments — including staff — necessary to keep up the land, says John Gibbs, regional forester for the DEC. Gibbs says he can’t predict what recommendations will be included in the plan.

The DEC does have staff to monitor public use of the land, he says. And the state has been doing some management tasks in the Hemlock-Canadice watershed, including erosion prevention.

For now, city and DEC staffs keep in regular contact, Morrison says. And if the DEC eventually decides not to do work that city officials deem important in the watershed, then the city could step in, he says.

One comment

  1. j jongen · · Reply

    Hemlock and Canadice State Forest watershed are currently under attack by adjacent landowners to the north of Hemlock Lake who have signed leases with horizontal hydrofracking gas companies. Once DEC issues permits to allow fracking to proceed the toxic flowback from this mining process will inevitably and adversely affect the quality of Monroe County’s entire drinking water supply. DEC has already indicated that they lack the resources to enforce hydrofracking regulations so the Monroe County Water Authority (MCWA) and the City of Rochester will need to test and monitor for any toxic effects on the County’s water supply. Btw, hydrofracking flowback water contains an additional 500+ Halliburton chemicals, including carcinogens, endocrine-disruptors, radiation, dioxin and other toxins that are not tested by the MCWA today. These non-organic toxins cannot be removed using existing water purification technologies. Since water treatment plants cannot accept this flowback brine the gas industry has become very creative in making it ‘disappear’ as alternatives to road treatment for ice and dust control, and by incenting farmers to spread it on their agricultural lands.

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