River Basin Characteristics
Eighteenmile Creek is located entirely within Niagara County and enters Lake Ontario through the Federal Navigation Channel at Olcott Harbor. The watershed covers a total of 93 square miles.
Agricultural land use accounts for about 50 percent of the watershed, followed by forested land, which accounts for around 27 percent of the watershed. Historically, this land was used for agricultural and industrial purposes, with most of the local industry centered in the city of Lockport. The Erie Barge Canal flows through the city and adds to the flow in Eighteenmile Creek.
The major soil erosion and sedimentation issues within this watershed are due to agricultural erosion, increased development and loss of wetlands. Streambank instability below Burt Dam is also a concern, given that the dam acts as a sediment trap for contaminated sediments.
The modeling team chose to use the Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), a hydrologic modeling system, to develop a tool to determine annual sediment yields and critical source areas of erosion in the watershed. SWAT is part of the EPA endorsed Better Assessment Science Integrating Point and Nonpoint Sources (BASINS) suite of tools.
As part of this effort, the landuse-landcover GIS layer, an important input for the SWAT model, was manually updated using 2002 data and additional core data layers required for SWAT implementation were also acquired from the EPA BASINS website. This model was developed with supplemental funding from the Great Lakes Remedial Action Plan.
Training was provided for potential local users of the tool in 2005.
Use and Applications
The Niagara County Department of Tourism intends to implement a program to restore and protect the watershed and will use the model to support an integrated strategy to help developers gain a better understanding of how sediment moves throughout the watershed.
The Niagara County Soil and Water Conservation District wishes to use the model to prioritize areas for the implementation of best management practices (BMPs) and restoration projects. One of the potential key areas is an agricultural subbasin located in the southwest of the watershed. This subbasin generated more sediment than any other subbasin and may respond positively to BMPs.
- SUNY Buffalo State College: Great Lakes Center and Dept. of Geography
- Eighteenmile Creek Remedial Action Plan Committee
- New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
- Niagara County Soil & Water Conservation District
- Niagara County Department of Tourism