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Hidden in Plain Sight: Exploring the Unrecognized Role of the Canal in Irrigating Western New York
March 17, 2021 @ 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
As part of the Erie Canal Museum‘s ongoing Erie Eats: Erie Canal Foodways Project, March’s Lunchtime Lecture features Dr. Stephen Shaw of SUNY ESF discussing irrigation efforts in Western New York using Erie Canal water, Wednesday, March 17 at 12 p.m. EDT. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the program will be streamed live on the Museum’s Facebook page. Please consider making a $5 donation, as is typical of all Lunchtime Lectures. Everyone who donates will receive a personal link to watch the lecture live on Zoom and participate in a Q&A session. Donations may be made through the Shop page of our website.
While the waters of the Erie Canal are usually considered in regards to boating, for close to a century the Canal has also served as a conduit to provide water for irrigation. In particular, the western portion of the canal was constructed above the elevation of the surrounding land surface, allowing for the diversion of Lake Erie water into numerous streams by gravity alone. The ability to use the canal for irrigation is a unique but little-recognized natural resource within Western New York that supports thousands of acres of high value crops, fruits, and vegetables as well as a number of golf courses.
This talk, will introduce the geography, infrastructure, and hydrology related to the canal in Western New York. It will explore how farms and others currently use water from the canal. Additionally, the talk will discuss plans to expand irrigation to support the region’s agricultural economy and to provide some resiliency to the increased occurrence of drought.
Funded in part through the generous support of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and the William G. Pomeroy Foundation.
The Erie Canal Museum is partially supported by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.