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Cattaraugus Creek Watershed Strategy: Soil and Water Assessment Tool

The 1,475 km2-watershed in Southwestern New York drains into Lake Erie.


Research Leader SWAT simulation
Chris S. Renschler

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Great Lakes National Project Office
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Buffalo District
New York State Great Lakes Protection Fund (NYGLPF), Syracuse, NY

Barry Boyer, Professor (Environmental Law Clinic, University at Buffalo, Buffalo)
Gordon Fraser, Director (Great Lakes Center, Buffalo State College, Buffalo)
Brian Davis (Soil and Water Conservation District – Cattaraugus County, NY)
Sheila Christopher (Buffalo State College, Buffalo)

Research Assistants
Taesoo Lee, Phil Evans, Heather Collins

The project team held stakeholder meetings in the Cattaraugus Creek watershed to learn about how the local residents and stakeholders feel about their watershed. The goal of the project was to develop a general strategy that is featured in the Watershed Resource Guide. LESAM team members set up the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) simulation runs to illustrate the challenges, opportunities, and limitations of basin-scale soil and water decision-support tools. The SWAT model is a physically based, continuous time step watershed scale model to assess the impact of management practices on water, sediment, and chemical yields within agricultural watersheds.

An extension of this project included the monitoring of P and N loadings in the Cattaraugus Creek Watershed. This allowed us to calibrate and validate the nutrient loading component of the Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model. The project also assesses how land-use change, especially urbanization, will affect P and N loadings through SWAT model predictions (e.g. as a result of more urban or agricultural land use in the watershed). This product can be used as a tool by both local (Cattaraugus Creek Task Force members) and regional/national organizations to make decisions on land use management that may impact water quality.

For more details see