Genesee RiverWatchers discuss solutions to stream bank erosion

May 25, 2016

Sediment from soil erosion is blamed for the Genesee River's light brown coloring.
Credit Veronica Volk / WXXI News

The third annual Genesee RiverWatch Summit in Rochester focused on an area of concern that affects not only how healthy the river is, but how it looks.

The Genesee RiverWatch was formed several years ago when the Center for Environmental Initiatives decided to hone their mission and focus on a specific area of concern. The group holds an annual summit, inviting anyone with a stake in the river, its basin, or the lake into which it flows: Lake Ontario.

This year, leaders chose a topic of discussion that affects everyone who uses the waterway: stream bank erosion.

George Thomas is the executive director of the RiverWatch. He says stream bank erosion robs farmers of their land, sediment carries chemicals and nutrients and causes algal blooms in the Great Lakes, and turns the riverfront into an eyesore instead of an asset.

"We see the river, and no one wants to go into it because it's all brown."

The summit serves as a venue for representatives from different organizations to share their research and projects that address erosion and sediment issues, as well as crowd source ideas for future initiatives.

One solution that came up repeatedly throughout the meeting was the need to build back and stabilize the soil upstream, by planting trees and other vegetation that would reinforce the river's banks.

Great Lakes Today is a collaborative of WBFO Buffalo, ideastream in Cleveland, and WXXI Rochester.