$2.5 Million Sauquoit Creek Floodplain Bench to Store and Slow Floodwaters and Protect Downstream Communities
Additional $250,000 through Environmental Protection Fund to Strengthen Resiliency in Mohawk River Basin
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $2.5 million to increase the resiliency of the Sauquoit Creek through the construction of an innovative floodplain 'bench' that will store and slow floodwaters and protect downstream communities. In addition, the Governor announced new coordinated state actions to help Mohawk River Basin communities hard hit by recent floods that will include $250,000 in new funding. Today's announcement complements the ongoing multi-agency flood response efforts of the Departments of State, Environmental Conservation and Transportation, as well as Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, and local emergency personnel.
"As severe weather becomes the new normal, it is critical that all levels of government coordinate effectively and advance projects that enhance the resiliency of our infrastructure," Governor Cuomo said. "This investment will protect homes and businesses along the Sauquoit Creek for years to come and help prevent future flood events in the Mohawk Valley."
Identified as the highest priority in a State-funded, state-of-the-art flood study for Sauquoit Creek, the Governor is directing new efforts to mitigate flooding including $2.5 million to implement the Sauquoit Creek Floodplain Bench. Using $311,000 in NY Works funding, DEC previously funded the design of the floodplain bench, which is an engineered project to carve out areas adjacent to the creek bank where flood waters can spill over and thereby reduce flooding, while maintaining the ecology of the creek. The bench will be built along the bank of the Sauquoit Creek upstream and to the south of the Oriskany Boulevard Bridge.
In cooperation with DEC, the town of Whitestown is managing an engineering firm to build the floodplain bench. Design and construction drawings for the bench will be finalized this year. Pending regulatory approval, necessary permits and land acquisitions, construction is anticipated to begin in spring 2018 and be completed by 2019.
"As climate change fuels more intense and frequent storms that threaten communities and infrastructure across the state, DEC experts are on the frontlines everyday assisting local governments in planning for and advancing important flood resiliency projects," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "The flood plain benches unveiled today will not only protect communities impacted by flooding, they will also improve the natural resources in the Mohawk River valley, which are critical to the economic vitality of the region."
On the same schedule, the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery and DOS are supporting the development of another flood plain bench, the Sauquoit Creek-Dunham Park Channel and Floodplain Restoration Project at a cost of $380,000. This flood plain bench project will provide similar flood mitigation benefits.
"This investment will protect homes and businesses along the Sauquoit Creek for years to come and help prevent future flood events in the Mohawk Valley."
Additional Mohawk Valley Resiliency Actions and Projects
The Governor also directed DEC to provide $250,000 through the Environmental Protection Fund to strengthen the resiliency of the Mohawk River Basin. This funding will support the following:
- $20,000 to support the cooperative efforts of the Sauquoit Creek Basin Inter-municipal Commission to develop and implement flood abatement projects throughout the Sauquoit Creek watershed; and
- $50,000 to develop ecologically sustainable stream sediment and debris management plans, focusing on the Mohawk River watershed's most flood-prone sub-watersheds, including Sauquoit Creek.
- $124,000 to establish a new grant program to support the implementation of the sustainable sediment and debris removal management plans; and
- $56,000 to continue post-flood emergency stream training sessions for elected officials, municipal supervisors, program managers and soil and water conservation districts.
Prior to the recent flood events, New York State has continued to prioritize flood risks reduction projects in the Mohawk Valley, including investments of over $1.5 million in development of planning and engineering analyses for floodplain restoration and hazard mitigation projects in Fulmer Creek and Steel Creek areas and other key watersheds. DOT has also continued to assist area communities with clearing debris from culverts and providing equipment such as dump trucks and excavators to advance necessary cleanup projects, and working with the Canal Corporation provide regular information to motorists and boaters with safety information and restrictions.
The Governor will direct DEC to assist Oneida County and those communities located within the Sauquoit Creek watershed adversely impacted by the July 1 flood to further assess and identify undersized infrastructure (bridges and culverts) in the tributaries to Sauquoit Creek. In addition, DEC will evaluate the aquatic passage potential and overall condition of these structures. This information can then be used to help the county and local municipalities prioritize the replacement of their infrastructure.
Today's funding commitments by the state build upon recent investments announced by Oneida County, including $2 million for municipal projects to increase the resiliency of flood-impacted communities. Projects are in the process of being identified and may include stabilizing streams and constructing new culverts and detention ponds to manage floodwater.
Oneida County Executive Picente said, "We cannot stop natural disasters, however we must continue to do our best to be prepared when flooding strikes. This program will look at the areas hardest hit, whether Village, Town, City or County area and put together a plan that will mitigate the flooding in the long term. These projects may prevent one's home from flooding and their possessions being lost forever, or even worse flooding that causes real physical harm to loved ones, and I commend the Governor's leadership in helping us recover from the most recent flooding while prioritizing additional state funding to augment our local investments to improve resiliency."
About Sauquoit Creek
The Sauquoit Creek flows south to north and is a tributary of the Mohawk River. It is 20.6 miles in length and has a watershed of 62.2 square miles. The creek flows through the town of Paris, village of Clayville, town and village of New Hartford, village of New York Mills, town of Whitestown, and village of Whitesboro.
The creek's floodplain is broad and flat especially along its lower reaches, which is also the area of most intensive development in the watershed. Throughout the watershed, the creek's channel and corridor have been extensively straightened and channelized. In combination with encroachment from development, leaving little room for floodwaters during storm events. Due to these floodplain constrictions, the Sauquoit Creek has flooded multiple times: 1910, 1913, 1914, 1936, 1945, 1950, 1951, 1960, 1972, 1996, 1998, 2006, April 2011, August 2011, Fall 2011, January 2013, June 2013, July of 2013, and most recently on July 1, 2017 - when the village of Whitesboro was hard hit.