The state will invest $15 million to support a regional dredging initiative that will improve 20 harbors along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, including Little Sodus Bay in Fair Haven.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the initiative during a visit to Oswego County Wednesday. He said the dredging funds would come from the $300 million allocated for the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative, which launched to help communities affected by flooding.
State agencies worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop a dredging plan and a timeline for the projects. The first dredging project, Blind Sodus Bay in Wayne County, will begin in April. The dredging of Little Sodus Bay is scheduled to begin in October.
The projects will take no more than four months to complete.
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The goal of the projects is to give counties along the lake and river time to "develop long-term operational, maintenance and funding plans to maintain recreational navigation channels in the future," according to the governor's office.
Cuomo highlighted the importance of harbors, especially the sites along Lake Ontario. The harbors along the lake's southern shore generate $94 million in economic activity and support more than 1,350 jobs.
"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. "We are doing everything we can to help these communities build back stronger than before."
The dredging plan was introduced in November at the REDI conference in Albany. One dredging project — at Port Bay in Wayne County — has already been completed. The project was finished in early December.
Before the dredging began, an underwater survey was conducted. Prudent Engineering, an East Syracuse-based sub-consultant of Ramboll Group, used a remote-controlled boat equipped with a multi-beam sonar to conduct the survey. The information, which helps determine how much of the bay needs to be dredged to ensure the depth is ideal for navigation, was provided to the state and showed the bottoms of Port Bay and Blind Sodus Bay.
Surveys of other harbors will be conducted during the spring.
Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.