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For Release: Wednesday, September 21, 2022

DEC Commissioner Seggos Announces Start of Construction of $1.3 Million Flood Resiliency Project in Town of Newfane, Niagara County

Installation of Man-Made Berm Will Protect Businesses and Residents from Future Flooding

During Climate Week Project Part of State's $300 Million Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the start of construction of a flood resiliency project in the Town of Newfane, Niagara County. The town was awarded nearly $1.3 million through the State's Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI) (leaves DEC website) to complete this critical project that will provide shoreline stabilization and flood protection to the infrastructure and homes situated along the shoreline.

DEC Commissioner and REDI Commission Co-Chair Seggos said, "New York State is committed to improving resilience to extreme weather events due to climate change. Through the REDI program, and with Governor Hochul's determined leadership, we are helping Lake Ontario communities revitalize their waterfronts and strengthen resiliency against future flooding. This new berm at Olcott Beach will help keep residents and visitors safe while enjoying the waterfront."

Olcott Beach and the low-lying infrastructure, businesses, and residences located along Lake Ontario are subject to flooding due to high water levels and wind-driven waves. Previous attempts to reinforce the berm on Olcott Beach have failed. During the historic flooding of 2019, many properties were severely damaged when they were flooded by stormwater that couldn't drain to the Lake.

To address these issues, resiliency measures will be implemented and include constructing a man-made berm system with a hardened core to stabilize the shoreline and protect properties adjacent to the shoreline from wave action. Native plantings added to the top of the berm will reinforce the berm as they grow, providing an aesthetic appeal, and increasing wildlife habitat at the project site. Additionally, a new stormwater pumping system will be installed to minimize future flooding.

ESD REDI Co-Chair and Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, "When we prepare and protect waterfront communities from flooding, we are helping to ensure their future prosperity. The Olcott Beach project will provide resiliency and relief to residents who have suffered repeatedly from devastating flood damage, while also creating a more welcoming public space for visitors. We look forward to seeing the positive economic impact of this further shoreline reinforcement on Niagara County."

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "State Parks is proud of the REDI program and what it has accomplished in a short time. With so much to do and enjoy along the shoreline of Lake Ontario, this project ensures that homes and businesses are protected while, at the same time, attracts more visitors to the Olcott/Newfane area of Niagara County."

Senator Robert Ortt said, "Recent history has shown us just how devastating any rising of Lake Ontario's water levels can be to our shoreline community residents and the ecosystems in these communities. By implementing shoreline-hardening and community-oriented infrastructure, the REDI Commission is taking proactive measures to significantly limit the destruction caused by flooding in future emergencies. This resiliency effort on Olcott Beach is a welcomed project that will help better protect our community against future disasters."

Assemblyman Michael Norris said, "This is another important piece of the entire Lake Ontario Shoreline Resiliency Project. This initiative will enhance the shoreline and further infrastructure protection, create economic development opportunities for our lakeshore communities, and stabilize the threat of water levels for residents and businesses alike. I am proud to have worked with my partners in local and State government to support this initiative."

Chairman of the Niagara County Legislature Rebecca Wydysh said, "All across our Lake Ontario communities, we have completed REDI projects that have helped us rebuild from flooding damage while, in many cases, further enhancing the shoreline experience. The Olcott Beach berm project is a great example, as it will not only stabilize the shoreline and protect property, but also add to the natural beauty of the beach by creating a wildlife habitat through plantings on top of the berm."

Town of Newfane Supervisor John Syracuse said, "Through our partnership with the State and with the continued support of Governor Hochul, the Town of Newfane is excited to be breaking ground on our second REDI project. These transformative resiliency projects are already making a positive impact on our community, spurring private investment, increasing tourism, and promoting economic development, all while helping to keep our residents safe from the threat of future flooding."

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.

Since the creation of the State's REDI program in the Spring of 2019, 134 REDI funded local and regional projects are underway, including 52 projects in the design phase, 40 projects in the construction phase, and 42 projects completed.

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

construction equipment on small beach
NO.4 Beach Berm Construction

small white houses with flooding around them
NO.4 Flooding in 2019 at Olcott Beach

beach area with broken berm before construciton
NO.4 Pre Construction Existing Berm

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