SANDY CREEK — The Port Bay navigation channel is the first to be dredged under a state program involving 20 locations, including several in Wayne County.
The bay channel’s completion was announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a visit to Oswego County on Wednesday.
Cuomo said it is part of an effort to address a backlog of projects at harbor navigation channels along the southern shore of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. The $15 million dredging initiative is part of the state’s $300 million plan to repair and build resiliency in communities recovering from damage caused by high water levels and flooding.
The next dredging project is in April at Blind Sodus Bay, also in Wayne County,
“New Yorkers living and working along the shorelines of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River are still reeling from last year’s record flooding that devastated their communities,” Cuomo said in a press release. “We are doing everything we can to help these communities build back stronger than before. We have completed the first round of 20 dredging projects, beginning with Port Bay, as part of our $300 million initiative to repair and rebuild resiliency by creating natural storm barriers along the region’s waterfront, which will ensure a better and stronger future for lakeside residents.”
At a Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative Conference in Albany in November, Cuomo announced the dredging project to the representatives of communities set to receive REDI grants. That same month, said Cuomo’s office, field teams identified areas to be dredged and developed timelines for the work. Underwater surveys for some 20 potential harbor locations were planned, and in early December, the first was completed at Port Bay in Wayne County.
Cuomo’s office said a remote-controlled boat equipped with a multi-beam sonar gave the state a survey of what the bottom of Port and Blind Sodus bays looked like and how much dredging would be required to reach the desired depth for the navigation channels. Field teams will be conducting additional surveys at harbors throughout the region this spring.
Other Wayne County dredging projects ahead include Pultneyville and East Bay in October and Bear Creek Harbor in July 2021.
Cuomo’s office said each dredging project is targeted to be complete no more than four months from its start date.
State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said the dredging projects “are a critical component of Gov. Cuomo’s comprehensive plan to protect Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River shoreline communities from high water.”
RoAnn Destito, commissioner of the Office of General Services, said “no one has been pushing harder than the governor has to get these REDI and dredging projects done.”
Cuomo’s office said the state’s dredging projects are designed to give Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River counties time to develop long-term operational, maintenance and funding plans to maintain recreational navigation channels in the future.
According to the state, the harbors along the southern shore of Lake Ontario generate an estimated $94 million in economic activity, supporting more than 1,350 local jobs.