Enhanced fishing conditions from canal water honored with ‘engineering excellence award’

Photo by Tom Rivers: A fisherman stands in the Oak Orchard River on Oct. 20, 2023. Several of the tributaries get a boost in water from the Erie Canal from the fall through early December.

Posted 30 April 2024 at 12:07 pm

Press Release, New York Power Authority and New York State Canal Corp.

The New York Power Authority and New York State Canal Corp. announced its annual fall fishing program was honored this month with an Engineering Excellence Award by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) New York.

The fall fishing program received a Diamond Award in the category of Water Resources for its strategic use of canal infrastructure that allows regulated flows of water from the Erie Canal into Lake Ontario tributaries.

The enhanced flows, through deliberate releases of canal water, improve spawning conditions, expand angling opportunities, and enrich the world-class fishing destinations in Monroe, Orleans and Niagara counties.

“The construction of the Erie Canal has long been viewed as an engineering marvel and, as we look ahead to the canal’s third century of operation, the fall fishing program is an excellent example of how we are using canal infrastructure and its water in a different way to benefit more than just mariners,” NYPA President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll said. “As we prepare for the fifth season of the program, the recognition from the American Council of Engineering Companies, both at the state and national levels, reaffirms how thoughtful engineering adjustments play a key role in our operations that allow the canal to be a driver of economic activity today and in the future.”

New York State Canal Corp. Director Brian U. Stratton said, “As we approach the Erie Canal’s bicentennial, the prestigious awards from both the New York and national chapters of the American Council of Engineering Companies confirms the historic waterway’s continued impact and influence on our state. Through the fall fishing program, we are strategically adjusting century-old water management control gates along the western Erie Canal to improve conditions for both fish and anglers, and that, in turn supports the local canalside economies and boosts tourism.”

The fall fishing program is one of 124 projects from across the state that encompasses both the public and private sector that was recognized with an Engineering Excellence Award this year. Annually, more than 50 ACEC New York member firms submit projects that are judged on a rigorous set of criteria, which includes complexity, innovation and value to society.

In addition to receiving recognition from ACEC New York, the fall fishing program will also be honored with a National Recognition Award in the American Council of Engineering Companies 2024 Engineering Excellence Awards competition. The national award will be presented in May.

In 2023, the fall fishing program and Orleans County were recognized with an “Excellence in Tourism Marketing” award from the New York State Tourism Industry Association for the “More Water = More Fish” campaign. The collaborative effort raises awareness of the program and aims boost regional tourism.

Each fall through early December, the program supplies four Lake Ontario tributaries with elevated flows to improve conditions for fish, thereby enticing more salmon, steelhead and brown trout to enter and remain in these streams. The north flowing tributaries include Sandy Creek and Oak Orchard Creek, the premier streams of Orleans and Monroe counties, along with Eighteenmile Creek of Niagara County and Johnson Creek of Niagara and Orleans counties.

As the upcoming season approaches, the Canal Corp. will update its fall fishing webpage to provide anglers with the program’s latest news and information.