Goose Creek Water Quality Improvement Project

A section of Goose Creek showing new Water Quality Improvement Project improvements: bank grading, stone riprap and willow plantings. Photo by Andy Johnson

As you drive on Route 394 and cross Goose Creek in the Town of Busti, you can see for yourself that significant improvement has been made to reduce erosion and improve water quality along this section of the creek.

Before work started, this stream bank was severely eroded. There were no trees or shrubs to hold stream bank soils in place. Soils eroded from the banks had the potential to flow into Chautauqua Lake, where these sediments would come to rest on the lake’s bottom and provide a growing medium for nuisance lake weeds and potentially impede navigation. Moreover, eroded soils contain nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus that also support plant growth and algae blooms in the lake.

The work on this section of Goose Creek included re-grading of the streambank and placement of about 550 tons of large stone riprap to protect the bank. The stone protects approximately 225 feet of the stream bank. In addition, about 700 willow stakes were planted along the top of the newly protected stream bank as well as between the stones. As these willows mature, the roots will stabilize the improved streambank and establish a buffer from overland pollutant flow. The willows will also serve to shade and cool the stream, providing an improved fish habitat. Areas that were re-graded were also hydro-seeded to further protect the disturbed soils from erosion. (Go to the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy’s Facebook page,, to see the July 27 post showing the Goose Creek improvements when the placement of stone riprap was completed.)

These improvements to Goose Creek are part of an overall, multi-tributary investment of $1.4 million in Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP) grants awarded by New York State to Chautauqua County in 2015. The purpose of the WQIP program is to improve the water quality of Chautauqua Lake and its tributaries by reducing soil erosion and intercepting nutrient loading caused by streambank and channel instability. The Goose Creek project is part of a group seven priority sections of Chautauqua Lake’s tributary streams. Improvements have also been made, or are in progress, on Prendergast Creek, Upper Bemus Creek, Lower Bemus Creek, Dutch Hollow Creek, West (Branch) Dutch Hollow Creek and Ball Creek. Excessive sedimentation is a primary factor in the growth of Eurasian watermilfoil, the primary exotic invasive plant in Chautauqua Lake. These WQIP projects help to reduce the amount of soil and nutrients being deposited into Chautauqua Lake and, thus, help to reduce excessive plant and algae growth.

Partners on these WQIP projects are Chautauqua County, the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance, Chautauqua County Soil & Water Conservation District and the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy. Funding was provided in part by the Environmental Protection Fund as administered by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Chautauqua County, through a share of its Occupancy Tax Program and reallocated Chautauqua Lake Management Commission capital funds, provided the local match funds for these projects.

The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is a local not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the water quality, scenic beauty and ecological health of the lakes, streams, wetlands and watersheds of the Chautauqua region. For more information, call 664-2166 or visit