Mary Anne Kowalski moved to Seneca Lake after retirement from New York State government. She became involved with Finger Lakes Future Alliance (FLFA) a grass roots group working to stop an ethanol plant from operating at the closed Seneca Army Depot. During that fight, she searched for assistance from a lake advocacy organization and SLPWA was moribund and could provide no assistance. What had been a vital organization protecting the lake had stopped operating. So, when she was asked to help restart SLPWA, she joined the group that resurrected the organization.
She has been on the board of Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association (SLPWA) since 2008 and was President from 2011 through 2016. Under her direction, SLPWA challenged the State Department of Health for failure to release documents about health impacts of fracking of natural gas and filed to be a petitioner in the challenge against LPG storage in salt caverns on Seneca Lake. Mary Anne created the stream monitoring program and was critical in the creation of the SLPWA HABs monitoring program, which is now a model for the Finger Lake. In 2013, SLPWA received the Region II EPA Award as Environmental Quality Award for its achievements in protecting public health and the environment.
Before retirement, she was responsible for the legislation, regulation, freedom of information and public and media relations for the New York State Health Department (DOH) , Public Health Laboratory (Wadsworth). Wadsworth provides clinical and environmental testing for New York DOH and local health agencies and has a role in all the programs that involve testing including drinking water and environmental health activities. Her regulatory responsibilities included both clinical and environmental laboratories. These activities required cooperation and coordination with other parts of the State Health Department and the State Department of Environmental Conservation on many issues, providing a background on program operations of the two agencies that most impact Seneca Lake and Finger Lakes.