Mar 28, 2011 Bill Pavlus Uncategorized
To the editor:
For many years I have heard people say that the City of Syracuse is getting free water from Skaneateles Lake. I respond with, I am really glad that the City of Syracuse is watching over our beautiful lake and that I drink the water that comes through the Syracuse Gate House next to the Sherwood Inn, then through the village of Skaneateles water system and finally through the town of Skaneateles water lines to my home where my family and I can enjoy using and drinking water that is safe to drink without having to be filtered.
In the late 1950s I worked for two years for the Village of Skaneateles Electric & Water Departments, and since then I have had a very sincere interest in the protection of the Watershed to Skaneateles Lake. In 1996 I was elected town supervisor with a responsibility to insure that our customers continued to receive good quality water into their homes and businesses. As town supervisor I began to receive a wealth of information, much of it related to filtration and other methods of trying to provide water to users that had to be processed in some manner. before it was fit for consumption.
I had not been in office long before I received an invitation from the program chairman of the Skaneateles Lake Watershed Agricultural Program inviting me to attend their annual meeting. I was quick to accept the invitation because my interest in protecting the Skaneateles Lake Watershed dates back to one of my first part time jobs working for Paul Zechman emptying Privy Pails and carrying them down to the dock at Five Mile Point for the City of Syracuse Potty Boat to pick up. As a matter of fact I still have one of the original galvanized pails (only slightly used), which I keep as a souvenir. A lot of improvements have been made around the lake, thanks to the City of Syracuse.
Before becoming supervisor I was a member of the town planning board and often acted as vice chairman in the absence of Chairman Herb Edwards. In this position I became well aware of the need for a joint village-town comprehensive plan with supporting zoning laws. As farming practices changed, more and more land on the lake watershed became available for development. Farmers that remained in business needed guidance and financial assistance to improve their practices. We have been fortunate to have received grants from several different sources. Former Congressman Jim Walsh managed quite well in directing several milions of dollars in our direction, which, annually funded a variety of erosion and pollution controls on our watershed farms. I do not know where all of the funding originated from; however, I am quite sure that besides federal, there have been state, county and City of Syracuse funds directed toward the protection of this very valuable resource. I do know that I am pleased to have seen the effort that has gone into protecting our Skaneateles Lake water supply over the last several years.
Since 1996 I have annually traveled to LaFayette to the offices of the Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District to board a bus with other interested individuals for a tour of some of the most recent projects that they have helped to install. Their projects vary from stream bank stabilization, strip cropping, keeping storm water runoff out of barn yards, controlling sileage leachate, and pathogen management, to name a few. Each trip has been to a different area and may even be on a watershed to a different body of water than Skaneateles.
Skaneateles Lake watershed lies within the borders of five towns, Scott, Spafford, Sempronius, Niles, and Skaneateles; three counties, Cortland, Cayuga and Onondaga; and one village. For years all efforts to bring representatives of these municipal territories together to discuss watershed issues failed. With help from Cornell Cooperative Extension providing the food served by the Scott Methodist Church, I sent out invitations inviting elected or appointed officials to a Skaneateles Lake Watershed program. These have become a biannual event, and are now held at the Presbyterian Church in Skaneateles.
I feel more comfortable knowing that this effort is going into trying to protect the quality of water that is entering our distribution lines. I am, however, very concerned about the monster that can be lurking in our future called hydrofracking. Is it safe or not? Who can we trust to know what they are saying?