Owasco Flats

A view of where one of the sediment control basins will be for the Owasco Flats restoration project.

AUBURN — A project to reduce nutrients into the Owasco Inlet has hit yet another roadblock, delaying work until possibly this winter or next spring.

The Owasco Flats Wetland Restoration and Riparian Buffers Initiative seemed to overcome its hurdles after the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued permits to begin the work last month. The project, which has been in the works since 2011, creates sediment control basins that filter water entering the inlet. The idea is to cut back on the massive dirt plumes that have entered into Owasco Lake.

Cayuga County Environmental Engineer Bruce Natale said of the six engineering firms that visited the site, only one firm put in a bid. 

"We're curious why we got one," he said. "I'm disappointed."

Cayuga County legislators at the Ways and Means Committee Tuesday night decided to pull a resolution that would have awarded a bid. Legislature Chairman Keith Batman said the work was too important to have only one option to choose from. 

Following the meeting, Natale said usually firms return a sheet included in the request for proposals packet explaining why they chose not to bid. He hadn't received any yet, but he said it could be that some contractors are too busy to take on the work at this time. Either way, since the county will not be awarding a bid just yet, Natale said work will likely be delayed until this winter or possibly February or March next year.

The state Environmental Facilities Corp. awarded the county $712,500 in 2011 for the project, which no longer covers the scope of work. Natale said the county is seeking its advice with how to move forward.

Staff writer Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (315) 282-2237 or gwendolyn.craig@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.

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County Government Reporter