New York Field Office
Northeast Region

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Genesee River, Rochester, NY

For the past two years, Fish and Wildlife Service Environmental Contaminants Biologists in New York State have been conducting a study to evaluate whether contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) pose a threat to fish and wildlife in the Genesee River, near Rochester, New York.  CECs include substances such as flame retardants, discarded medicines, personal care products, plasticizers, new pesticides, and detergents.  These contaminants are associated with agricultural and urban runoff, combined sewer overflows, wastewater treatment plants, and industrial waste. They are becoming more widespread in the environment and are frequently not regulated by state or federal water quality programs.  These substances may be toxic to fish and wildlife or have other non-lethal biological effects (for example feminization of male fish).

In 2010 and 2011, we collected fish, water, and sediment from a number of locations in the Genesee River.  Study partners from the U.S. Geological  Survey evaluated fish for signs of internal and external tumors and other developmental abnormalities that may be caused by exposure to contaminants.  Preliminary results reveal that lower Genesee River water and sediment samples contained chemicals such as hormones (estrogen), pesticides (DEET, atrazine), wastewater treatment plant indicators (caffeine, cholesterol), medicine (lidocaine), flame retardants, coal tar, detergents, and plasticizers.  This study is part of a larger study being conducted by the Fish and Wildlife Service throughout the Great Lakes, funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Fish sampling in the Genesee River
GLRI Fish Sampling, Genesee River, USFWS

 

 

Niagara River Area of Concern

Fish Tumor and Other Deformities Beneficial Use Impairment, Niagara River Area of Concern, Fact Sheet (pdf)

Fish sampling
GLRI Fish Sampling, Niagara River, USFWS

 

 

Links:

USFWS GLRI Site

Great Lakes Restoration Site

EPA GLRI Site

 

Rochester Embayment Area of Concern

Contaminants of Emerging Concern Study, Rochester Embayment Area of Concern, Fact Sheet (pdf)

Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat Beneficial Use Impairment, Rochester Embayment Area of Concern, Fact Sheet (pdf)

Wetland Assessment in the Rochester Embayment Area of Concern in Support of the Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat BUI Removal Evaluation (16 MB pdf)

Wetland Restoration Recommendations at the Rochester Embayment Area of Concern in Support of the Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat BUI Removal (pdf)

Fish sampling in the Genesee River
Braddock Bay Habitat Restoration, USFWS

Habitat restoration projects were conducted at Braddock Bay Wildlife Management Area, Salmon Creek Preserve, Long Pond and Buck Pond East.  Restoration included 5,000 feet of stream channel excavated, 28 acres of pothole habitat excavated, and native tree and shrub planting.

Aerial Footage of Restoration Work on Long Pond and Salmon Creek

The Long Pond video starts on the east side of the pond, showing wetland potholes which were excavated within the cattail-dominated wetland and habitat mounds made from the excavated material. The wetland potholes and habitat mounds are specifically designed to be of varying size and depth/height so as to increase habitat diversity. The habitat mounds were seeded with a wetland plant mix and planted with native tree and shrub species. At the 36 second mark, the video then shows potholes and habitat mounds created along the west side of Long Pond, on both sides of Northrup Creek. In total, 9 acres of potholes were created in the once expansive cattail wetland in Long Pond.

The Salmon Creek video starts by moving towards a pothole created on the right and habitat islands created on the left (diamond shaped areas). The habitat islands were created to isolate the stands of cattail. The islands will be treated with herbicide after the bird nesting season and will then be seeded and planted with native species.  The video then continues past the first pothole and the habitat islands to show channels excavated in the wetland and the potholes and habitat mounds created on both sides of an embayment to Salmon Creek (the water surrounded by undisturbed cattails). The channels allow northern pike (Esox lucius) access to spawn in newly created wetland habitat. In total, 5 acres of potholes were created, approximately 2,200 feet of channel were excavated, and approximately 0.3 acres of cattail control islands were created.

 

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Last updated: April 25, 2016
All images by FWS unless otherwise noted.