Genesee River (New York, Pennsylvania)

River Basin Characteristics

Genessee River watershed location

The Genesee River basin is a tributary to Lake Ontario and discharges to a Federal navigation channel at Rochester Harbor and Mount Morris Dam and Reservoir (a Federal flood damage reduction reservoir) in Monroe County, New York. The Genesee River watershed covers 2,500 square miles and drains portions of Genesee, Livingston, Wyoming, Monroe, Allegany, Steuben, Ontario, Orleans, and Cattaraugus counties in New York and Potter County in Pennsylvania.

Genessee River, Rochester Harbor

Land use within the watershed is approximately 52 percent agricultural, 40 percent forested, 4 percent urban, 2 percent wetlands or water, 1 percent transportation, and 1 percent rangeland. Topography and elevations within the watershed also vary greatly, from 2,500 feet in the steep and rugged Allegany mountains to 247 feet in the gently rolling hills below Mount Morris Dam and along Lake Ontario. Within the Genesee River basin, sources of sediment include erosion from rapid river channel migration, streambank instability, agricultural lands, increased development, roadside ditching, and wetland displacement.

Modeling Approach

During this project, the Corps developed a Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) hydrologic model to predict the impact of land management practices on water, sediment, and agricultural chemical yields within the Genesee River watershed – a large complex watershed with varying soils, landuse, and management conditions over long periods of time. The model contains components of both the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) and the Modified Universal Soil Loss Equation (MUSLE).

Landuse for the Genessee River watershed

In addition, SWAT has been incorporated into the US EPA’s Better Assessment Science Integrating Point and Nonpoint Sources (BASINS) system, which integrates a geographic information system (GIS), national watershed and meteorlogical data, and state-of-the-art environmental assessment and modeling tools into one convenient package. The SWAT modeling work in this study was conducted within the BASINS system (version 3.0).

Modeling for the Genesee River has been completed and a training workshop for state and local partners was held in September 2009.

Use and Applications

Development of the model will assist the Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council (GFLRPC) and state and local watershed managers with a tool to aid in their evaluation, prioritization, and implementation of alternatives for soil conservation and non-point source pollution prevention in the watershed.

Project Partners

For More Information:


Mike Voorhees
USACE, Buffalo District
1776 Niagara Street
Buffalo, NY 14207
Phone: (716) 879-4488