Lower Oswego River & Harbor Area of Concern Delisted - Executive Summary
DEC initiated public input into the development of the Oswego River Remedial Action Plan (RAP) in 1987 with the establishment of an advisory committee. The 1990 Stage 1 RAP identified use impairments and their causes and sources. The main impairments for the RAP Area of Concern (AOC) involved fish consumption restrictions, fish habitat, fish populations, and reported eutrophic conditions associated with non-AOC sources. Lake Ontario exerts a distinct influence on the AOC and has a close relationship. For example, the consumption restrictions are lakewide for Lake Ontario (not AOC specific) and apply to migratory fish entering the Oswego River and Harbor area.
Remedial actions to restore beneficial uses were originally identified in the 1991 Stage 2 RAP report. A comprehensive RAP Update was published in 1996 and includes results of: a fish pathology study, Oswego River and harbor water quality and sediment investigations, remedial activity progress, and delisting criteria. The 1998 RAP Workshop accomplished its objective to obtain an improved understanding of the remedial activities and study results and to identify the next steps and actions to define the restoration and protection of the Oswego River AOC. The importance and close relationships of addressing the fish consumption restrictions and fish habitat/population impairments as part of larger management plans operating external, however influencing the AOC, were recognized.
The workshop proceedings, including comments and recommendations, were published along with a RAP Update in 1999. Summary results of that workshop as well as the subsequent remedial measures and studies that address the use impairment indicators are contained herein. This information establishes the basis of the supporting data and rationale for the resolution of the indicators, preparation of this Stage 3 document, and the delisting of the Oswego River AOC.
Over the years, the Remedial Advisory Committee (RAC) conducted monthly, and later quarterly, meetings on RAP implementation. The committee has consisted of a diverse and multi-stakeholder representation with the task of identifying needed studies and remedial actions, seeking implementation, and then affecting these activities in the watershed and AOC. Reporting on progress, and communicating this information to the public has been an objective of the committee. Recent efforts focused on defining the endpoints to address the use impairments and realizing that significant reductions in pollutant sources have been achieved.
This Stage 3 document verifies that the RAP Process has accomplished its goal to the maximum extent practicable and that the ultimate resolution of the fish consumption, habitat and population concerns are to be addressed by specific larger management plan activities covering the AOC. Fulfilling the endpoints for these beneficial uses is to be addressed respectively by the ongoing Lake Ontario Lakewide Management Plan (LaMP) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Oswego River power dam licensing requirements. At the same time, the RAP has provided the data to show that the water quality is not impaired in the AOC, that local beneficial uses are not impaired, and that the RAP and EPA delisting criteria have been achieved.
The Great Lakes RAP program was formalized by the International Joint Commission (IJC) in the 1987 amendments to the United States-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The Agreement calls for the federal governments, in cooperation with states and provinces, to assure that RAPs incorporate a systematic and comprehensive ecosystem approach towards restoring beneficial uses, and to assure that the public is consulted in the process. The Oswego River RAP accomplishes the principles of the Agreement and Annex 2, addresses the restoration of beneficial uses, and substantiates that inclusive responsible management plan activities will resolve the larger issues of the Oswego River RAP that cannot otherwise be fulfilled within the scope of Oswego RAP process. The rigorous approach applied by the RAC and DEC corroborates the quality environment of the Oswego River and harbor area and ensuing delisting conclusion.