Oak Orchard Harbor should be dredged in 2014

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 January 2014 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – This photo was taken in the summer from the top of lighthouse at Oak Orchard Harbor. It shows a port that hasn’t been dredged in 10 years.

POINT BREEZE – One of Orleans County’s prime assets has gradually been filling with sediment, threatening to make it impassable for bigger boats. A clogged channel would hurt the county’s fishing and tourism industries.

Finally, this year the Oak Orchard Harbor is scheduled to be dredged by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It is one of seven on the south shore of Lake Ontario that is expected to be dredged in 2014.

The Orleans County Legislature last week expressed its formal support for the projects, passing a resolution that was sent to federal officials working on the dredging.

The Oak Orchard Harbor is critical to Orleans County’s $12 million annual fishing industry. The harbor hasn’t been dredged since 2004, and some boats have been grounded in shallow parts of the channel.

County officials have been pressing for several years for federal funds to be released to remove sediment from the harbor.

U.S. Rep. Chris Collins in April announced funding was designated to dredge Oak Orchard, Olcott and Wilson harbors in 2014. The harbors are important for recreational and economic reasons, he said.

The Army Corps of Engineers is proposing in 2014 to work on those three harbors, plus sites at Rochester, Irondequoit Bay, Little Sodus Bay and Oswego.

According to the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Oak Orchard Harbor in the town of Carlton was last dredged in 2004 when 10,700 cubic yards of material was removed. This harbor should be dredged every three to five years. In order to maintain adequate channel depth, 18,000 cubic yards of dredging will be required. The total sediment backlog is estimated at approximately 35,000 cubic yards.

Collins has co-sponsored the Realize America’s Maritime Promise Act or RAMP Act (H.R. 335), which would help ensure the funding is in place for routine maintenance dredging.