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For Release: Monday, November 29, 2021

DEC Announces Completion of Flood Resiliency Projects in Oswego and Wayne Counties

$600,000 Barrier Bar Restoration to Safeguard Local Businesses, Homes, and Wildlife Habitat

$400,000 Floodwall Project will Protect Wastewater Pump Station from Future High Water Events

Projects Selected as Part of State's Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the completion of the restoration of the North Sandy Pond barrier bar, a $600,000 project awarded to the town of Sandy Creek, Oswego County, as part of the State's Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI) (leaves DEC's website). The North Sandy Pond barrier bar is part of the largest barrier-pond ecosystem on Lake Ontario's New York shore. The barrier bar protects North Sandy Pond, as well as the homes and local businesses along its border. The area suffered significant damage in 2017 and 2019, when historically high lake levels and intense wave action eroded the dunes along the barrier bar.

DEC Commissioner and REDI Commission Co-Chair Basil Seggos said, "Through the Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative, New York State agencies are partnering with shoreline communities to identify, reimagine, and rebuild at-risk assets. DEC is proud to have worked with the towns of Sandy Creek and Ontario to advance these projects and ensure these communities are better prepared for future flooding. By advancing projects like the North Sandy Pond barrier bar and the Ontario Main Wastewater Pumping Station, New York State is strengthening local economies and protecting vital infrastructure from future floods and high water while safeguarding wildlife habitat."

To restore the barrier bar and protect North Sandy Pond, sand along 4,000 feet of shoreline was replaced using sand dredged from the adjacent navigational channel and the shoal behind the channel. The sand had been washed into the channel during storm surges due to higher water levels on the lake. In addition, local volunteers planted dune grass to help stabilize the reconstructed dunes. The completed project strengthens the barrier bar dividing North Sandy Pond and Lake Ontario, providing protection to homes and businesses. North Sandy Pond is designated as a Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat and is home to a variety of vegetation and wildlife. The restoration of the barrier bar is critical to maintain this wetland habitat for dune-dwelling plants, animals, fish, and birds.

Commissioner Basil Seggos also announced the completion of a floodwall system to protect the Ontario Main Wastewater Pumping Station (WWPS) from future flooding. The REDI Commission awarded the town of Ontario $400,000 to implement this flood resiliency project. The completed project in Wayne County will protect public health by mitigating the risk of flooding and the potential for related sewage overflows at the Ontario Main WWPS, which services wastewater for 6,000 residents, local businesses, and the neighboring Robert Emmett Ginna Nuclear Power Plant.

The Ontario Main WWPS REDI project also includes long-term infrastructure protections, including installation of a floodwall system designed to safeguard the WWPS and standby generator against rising floodwaters, minimizing damage to the pumps and generator, and reducing the risk of system failure.

New York State Office of General Services Acting Commissioner Jeanette Moy said, "New Yorkers can be proud of the environmental benefits that will result from this collaborative effort between the State and our local partners in Sandy Creek. The navigation channel at North Sandy Pond was the fourth to be cleared by OGS under New York State's $15 million REDI Regional Dredging Project. We are gratified to see that dredging work complemented the town's REDI-funded project and is now helping protect wildlife at this site."

Senator Patty Ritchie said, "Throughout the years, I have seen firsthand the severe, negative impact high water and erosion have had on the Sandy Pond area. I will never forget the damage I witnessed, most notably at Greene Point Marina, where they struggled for years with devastation caused by high water. These improvements will go a long way toward better protecting homes and businesses-like Greene Point Marina-as well as improving access for those looking to take advantage of the endless opportunities for recreation Sandy Pond offers."

Senator Pam Helming said, "These infrastructure improvements mean greater protections for local residents and businesses, and to public health. Thank you to Supervisor Frank Robusto and Ontario town employees, New York State, the REDI Commission, and all those who contributed to this project."

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said, "With the completion of this project, the residents and business owners adjacent to Sandy Pond will no longer be forced to deal with unmitigated water, ice and debris. Not only will this spare them from potential property damage costs, but it will improve the overall attractiveness of the region and hopefully help make it easier for new owners to set up shop. I am thankful for the hard work of all those on both the local and state level who helped get this important improvement over the finish line."

Assemblyman Brian Manktelow said, "In the last handful of years, we have witnessed an increase in flooding episode, and I for one am glad to see the State step-up and take action to limit any future damage from another event. The best way we as a State can serve our people is by providing a top-tier infrastructure that will mitigate any damage done and alleviate future headaches and heartaches. Not only will this project directly impact the 6,000 residents in the Town of Ontario, but by protecting their WWPS we can help ensure that the 500,000 homes and businesses powered by the Ginna Nuclear Power Plant. Thank you to the REDI program for their continued commitment to our shoreline communities."

Oswego County Legislative Chairman James Weatherup said, "Oswego County is blessed with an abundance of natural resources that are enjoyed year-round by residents and visitors alike. The beaches in and around the Sandy Pond area and the dune system behind them are just one of reasons that people choose to live here or visit us on a regular basis. In addition, the dunes help protect the inland property owners from the ravages of Lake Ontario storms while providing unique habit areas for a variety of species. We were pleased when this project was first selected for funding and grateful now that is has been completed."

Sandy Creek Town Supervisor Nancy Ridgeway said, "We are thrilled to see the North Sandy Pond barrier bar resiliency project complete. On behalf of the residents of Sandy Creek, I would like to extend our gratitude to Governor Hochul and our State agency partners for their continued support of this project, from conception to completion."

Town of Ontario Supervisor Frank Robusto said, "Through REDI, our partnership with state agencies has allowed the Ontario Main Wastewater Pump Station project to complete smoothly and efficiently. This completed project is critical to the town of Ontario community, ensuring uninterrupted service to our residents and businesses. Thank you to Governor Hochul for the continued support as we see these resiliency projects through from start to finish."

In response to the extended pattern of flooding along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, New York State established REDI to increase the resilience of shoreline communities and bolster economic development in the region. Five REDI Regional Planning Committees, comprised of representatives from eight counties (Niagara and Orleans, Monroe, Wayne, Cayuga and Oswego, and Jefferson and St. Lawrence) were established to identify local priorities, at-risk infrastructure and other assets, and public safety concerns. Through REDI, the State has committed up to $300 million, to benefit communities and improve resiliency in flood prone regions along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

For additional information, project profiles and REDI news, visit the REDI website (leaves DEC website).

Completed North Sandy Pond Barrier Bar - surrounded by trees and sand

Aerial view of the erosion at the North Sandy Pond Barrier Bar

Ontario Wastewater Pumping Station area before construction

Ontario Wastewater Pumping Station after Completion

Ontario WWPS Floodwall below a fenced in home

Photos courtesy of NYSDEC

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