Wilson, Olcott named among 20 sites for Lake Ontario dredging project

Feb 12, 2020

Governor Cuomo announced Wednesday that 20 harbors in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River will be dredged over the next two years, including two in Niagara County, as part of an ongoing state project to protect the shoreline from what was again called "the new normal" of lake waters.

The Town of Wilson and Olcott Harbor were identified among the projects. The first dredging is scheduled to begin in April at Blind Sodus Bay. Work in Wilson and Olcott is scheduled for June 2021.

A view of Wilson Harbor. Wilson and Olcott Harbor have been identified among 20 port sites to be dredged over the next two years as part of New York State's $300 million effort to strengthen the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River shoreline and protect it from future rising water levels.
Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO

"What the dredging does is it increases the access and capacity of creeks, inlets, et cetera," Cuomo said during an appearance in Oswego County. "And it uses the dredging material, in this situation, to increase a barrier to keep the high water from affecting the shoreline."

The dredging is part of New York State's $300 million project known as the Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative, or REDI. Its purpose is to strengthen the shoreline in anticipation of future rising water levels and weather which Governor Cuomo has, in the past, referred to as the "new normal" brought on by climate change.

"It is happening. It is happening now. It's happening today, right here. It will be happening in all these dredging locations," Cuomo said. "Let's make this transition to the new normal as quickly as possible. Let's get these businesses rebuilt. Let's make them more resilient. Let's make them stronger. Let's make them more economically viable than ever before."

The sites identified by Cuomo Wednesday are:

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

Last year, the governor personally toured Olcott, where officials showed him the pumping efforts put in place to remove flood waters from lower elevations along the lake. 

Olcott Beach was closed for the 2019 summer season as the result of rising Lake Ontario flood water. It also forced the shutdown of the beach in 2017. 

The Army Corps of Engineers reported last week that Lake Ontario water levels were nine inches higher than at that time the previous year. It forecasts the lake level to be one foot higher than one year before but lower, between May and July, than in 2019.

(Note: Coming up Friday during Morning Edition, WBFO's Michael Mroziak will have a full report on the latest concerns for Lake Ontario water levels in Niagara County.)