State completes dredging at 20 harbors, including Oak Orchard and Johnson Creek in Orleans

Photo by Tom Rivers: Dean Marine & Excavating Inc. from Michigan dredges the Oak Orchard Harbor on Aug. 26. The dredging barge is near the breakwall at the end of the Oak Orchard channel. The harbor last was dredged in August 2014, when it was done for the first time in 10 years.

Posted 31 December 2021 at 12:30 pm

Press Release, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Office

Governor Kathy Hochul announced the completion of Phase II of New York State’s $15 million Regional Dredging Project.

The dredging project is part of the State’s $300 million Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI) effort to repair and build resiliency in communities recovering from damage caused by high water levels and flooding along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

“Communities along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River have endured so much already at the hands of flood waters and our dredging operations are playing a critical role in creating more resilient shorelines,” said Governor Hochul. “With this work now complete, residents and tourists alike will benefit from enhanced access of these critical waterways, helping to bolster local economies and promote safe recreational boating.”

The objective of the REDI Regional Dredging Project, established in 2019, is to provide a comprehensive approach to ongoing dredging needs for harbor navigation channels used primarily for recreational boating and refuge.

The dredging removed built-up sediment from the bottom of the waterways to allow for continued safe harbor and passage of watercraft. Through two phases, the project tackled maintenance dredging of 20 harbor navigation channels. Over 75 percent of the dredged sediment was beneficially reused in a variety of ways including beach renourishment, littoral placement, and general fill.

Dredging undertaken as part of the REDI Regional Dredging Program included:

  • Salmon River/Port Ontario, Sandy Pond Outlet (Oswego County)
  • Olcott Harbor, Golden Hill State Park (Niagara County)
  • Oak Orchard Harbor, Johnson Creek (Orleans County)
  • Sandy Creek, Braddock Bay, Long Pond Outlet, Irondequoit Bay (Monroe County)
  • Bear Creek Harbor, Pultneyville, East Bay, Port Bay, Blind Sodus (Wayne County)
  • Clayton French Creek Marina, Henderson “The Cut” (Jefferson County)
  • Ogdensburg “City Front Channel,” Morristown Navigation Channel (St. Lawrence County)
  • Little Sodus Bay (Cayuga County)

“On behalf of all the member counties of the Lake Ontario Regional Dredging Management Council (formed as a shared services initiative by the Niagara-Orleans Regional Alliance), our sincere appreciation goes to the Governor and all of those who made this vital economic-generating project possible,” said Orleans County Legislative Chairman Lynne Johnson.

Final sediment disposal and site restoration is ongoing. The harbors included in the Regional Dredging Project along the southern shore of Lake Ontario are estimated to generate $94 million in economic activity, with $3.8 million in state tax revenues and an additional $3.8 million for local communities annually. These harbors support more than 1,350 local jobs.

The REDI Regional Dredging Project was managed by a multi-agency team made up of the Office of General Services, Department of State, Department of Environmental Conservation, and New York Power Authority, with support from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

During Phase III, anticipated to take place in 2022, the state will transition program management to the counties and provide the information they need to update, expand and implement an existing Regional Dredging Management Plan to keep the channels operational in the years to come.

The State’s initial support for the REDI Regional Dredging Project was designed to give Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River counties the time needed to develop long-term operational, maintenance, and funding plans to maintain recreational navigation channels in the future.

“Their leadership and funding will help keep our waterways safe and navigable,” said Niagara County Legislature Administration and Finance Chairman David E. Godfrey. “In doing so, our lakeshore counties can continue to attract sport fishermen and boaters both locally and internationally.”

Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt said, “The small towns and communities along our lakeshore are heavily dependent on access to Lake Ontario, and the ability to navigate along the waters stemming from the lake has a direct economic impact on these lakefront communities. The completion of Phase 2 of the REDI Commission’s regional dredging project will mean a more sustainable long-term future for the Lake Ontario waterfront region, and I applaud New York State for recognizing how important each of these 20 dredging sites are for their respective areas.”

Assemblyman Michael Norris said, “The completion of Phase II the REDI Regional Dredging Program is a critical component to ensuring the protection of our harbors, providing continued access for boaters and fishing charters, and enhancing key economic activity along the southern shore of Lake Ontario. I am proud to support the Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative and commend Governor Hochul for her partnership and investment in these important infrastructure projects.”

Assemblyman Stephen Hawley said, “The completion of these critical dredging projects throughout the 139th Assembly District and the western portion of our state is fantastic news for the future of our area, ensuring that these waterways can be safely accessed for generations to come.”