Tompkins county
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Tompkins County. By: Aurora Trainor Mentored By: Lisa McDevitt. About EcoEd!. EcoEd is a program for students grades 7-12 (now expanded to elementary students!) that was created to help students learn more about the environment than just what is taught in school.

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Tompkins County

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Tompkins county

Tompkins County

By: Aurora Trainor

Mentored By: Lisa McDevitt

About ecoed

About EcoEd!

  • EcoEd is a program for students grades 7-12 (now expanded to elementary students!) that was created to help students learn more about the environment than just what is taught in school.

  • By working with students at RPI, we learned valuable skills for research, writing, and presenting information.

  • This year’s focus was on a New York county, it’s general health, and how it compares with other counties in the state.

Where is tompkins county

Where is Tompkins County?



  • What is a county, and why is it important to the state?

    • Counties help to organize the state

    • Counties focus on an area too small for the state to control, and too large for local governments.

  • I used a variety of sources to research Tompkins County including:

    • Official county sites

    • County plans

    • Data provided by the county, state, and federal government.



  • Tompkins was established in 1817

    • The county was originally native American land

    • Tompkins was first settled by Europeans, then later given to Revolutionary War veterans

    • It was named for vice president and fourth governor of New York Daniel D. Tompkins

  • County government:

    • Divided into the County Council of Governments, which is a group of representatives from local governments that discuss issues that affect the entire county.

      • In 2014, a resolution was established in support of a group to address sustainability issues in the county.

    • Many departments, including public health and emergency services

    • Human and Public Services are provided, including jails and courts

Tompkins county

LEFT: The Taughannock gorge runs through Tompkins County. It was created by the retreat of glacial deposits about 20,000 years ago. The same ice sheets formed the abundant waterfalls also located in Tompkins County (BELOW).

Wetlands (ABOVE) are also a unique part of Tompkins County!



  • Using data such as watershed health and air quality can help indicate the health of an area

  • There was no data from Tompkins County on the number of unhealthy air days for the general population according to the EPA

  • 5% of rivers and 12% of lakes have poor water quality. However, many rivers (about 57%!) do not have available data according to the NY DEC.

Lead case

Lead Case

Lead case1

Lead Case

  • Popular use until 1970s in the U.S

    • Banned 1978

  • Lead was often found in paints, because it created colored tints and allowed for less paint required to cover a larger area.

    • Lead paint is still found in many countries such as Thailand and Mexico.

  • Lead can also be found in lead soldered pipes and children’s toys.

  • Many detrimental health effects, including difficulty learning, behavioral problems, and in the most severe cases, seizures and death.

  • Companies can benefit by making a profit off of lead paint, which can be cheaper to produce.

Soil water case

Soil/Water Case

  • Soil is a very important part of any county!

    • Soil needs to be treated well. This can be done by rotating crop fields, not using fertilizers, and watering fields properly.

    • Mistreated soil can lead to a decrease in topsoil, which holds nutrients vital to the growth of plants.

  • Erosion can be very dangerous to soil

    • Erosion can decrease topsoil, and also carry chemicals into water supplies

  • There are many uses of water in a county!

    • Water is needed for bathing, growing crops, feeding animals, and more. It is also a source of energy.

  • Where does Tompkins gets its water?

    • Several water treatment plants are located nearby: Bolton Point, using Cayuga Lake, Cornell Water Filtration Plant, using Fall Creek, and The City of Ithaca Water Treatment Plant, using Six Mile Creek

  • What impacts water quality?

    • Urban runoff—pavement is impermeable, and water carrying chemicals and other waste moves into nearby water supplies.

    • Incorrect disposal of chemicals, fertilizers, paints and other dangerous substances.

Air quality case

Air Quality Case

  • The greenhouse gas emissions of Tompkins

    • AES Cayuga, a coal operated plant produces 1,711,295 tons of CO2 per year. However, the plant no longer runs full time!

  • “Good” air quality 98.76% of the time, “moderate” 1.24%

  • 1996-2006, greenhouse gas emissions increased 5%!

    • Can be connected to the increase in energy use of 23%

  • AQI is 41.7

    • Ranked 22nd in New York State

Tompkins county


Hydraulic fracturing case

Hydraulic Fracturing Case

  • What is “fracking”?

    • A process of forcefully pushing water mixed with chemicals in order to fracture Marcellus shale and release the natural gas stored within.

  • Large companies are looking for landowners to lease land to frack on

    • They promise jobs, a boosted economy, and large amounts of money.

  • Affects on water, air, and soil

    • Residents nearby wells report cloudy water, filthy and smelly air, and animals on their farms dying.

  • Human health concerns

    • Some of the chemicals used in fracking have been linked to cancers, skin diseases, and other harmful sicknesses.



  • I would recommend more updated studies of the county including watershed, air quality, and soil data!

  • I also believe that before fracking is ever considered in Tompkins, there should be more in depth studies on the potentially harmful affects.

  • It is important to always improve in order to maintain good county health!

    • This requires support, hard work, and dedication to the environment from the government and citizens!



  • “A Dairy Farmer Shares Her Story About Fracking: ‘What Have We Done?’ | Public Herald.” Accessed April 17, 2014.

  • “Air Compare | AIRNow | US EPA.” Accessed April 20, 2014.

  • “Bradford County Fracking Map | NPR StateImpact.” Accessed April 17, 2014.

  • “Chesapeake Energy Corporation 2012 Annual Report.” Accessed April 17, 2014.

  • “Dangers of Fracking.” Accessed April 17, 2014.

  • “Fracking Our Food Supply | The Nation.” Accessed April 20, 2014.

  • “Health - Lead - Product Recalls |” Accessed April 16, 2014.

  • “Ithaca: History - Ithaca Before the Civil War, Cornell University Opens, City Prospers.” Accessed April 15, 2014.

  • “Lead in Drinking Water | Lead | US EPA.” Accessed March 23, 2014.

  • “Lead Paint Background | Occupational Knowledge International.” Accessed April 16, 2014.

  • “Lead Poisoning Causes - Diseases and Conditions - Mayo Clinic.” Accessed March 22, 2014.

  • “Lead Poisoning Prevention Outreach in Ithaca, NY | Make A Difference Day.” Accessed March 23, 2014.

  • “Lead Poisoning: Your Child: University of Michigan Health System.” Accessed March 22, 2014.

  • “Map 5: Incidence Rate of Blood Lead Levels ≥ 10 mcg/dL Among Children Under Age Six Years by County; Three-Year Average Rates, 2005 - 2007 Blood Lead Test Data, New York State Excluding New York City.” Accessed March 23, 2014.

  • “Must See New York Waterfalls | Visit Ithaca, NY.” Accessed April 15, 2014.

  • “Oswego River/Finger Lakes Watershed - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation.” Accessed April 20, 2014.

  • “Restoring Wetlands Near Cayuga Inlet: Presentation December 1 |” Accessed April 17, 2014.

  • “Section I: Testing and Results.” Accessed March 23, 2014.

  • “Soil Erosion – Causes and Effects.” Accessed April 17, 2014.

  • “New York State Geological Survey | NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM.” Accessed April 24, 2014.

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