Approval Comes Days After Governor Urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Quickly Approve Permits Necessary to Protect Drinking Water for 50,000 Residents
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the Owasco Flats Restoration Initiative has received necessary permit approvals from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to proceed. Governor Cuomo recently urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite their review and approval of this project, which is critical to ensure clean drinking water for nearly 50,000 New Yorkers.
"The Owasco Flats Wetland Restoration Initiative will help protect drinking water for tens of thousands of New Yorkers, and I am pleased the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is fulfilling its duties by approving the project," Governor Cuomo said. "I am directing state agencies to assist the county to expedite the implementation of this critical project and help make a stronger, healthier New York for all."
The goal of this innovative project developed by Cayuga County is to build wetland retention basins that will trap sediment and nutrients from the Owasco Inlet before the water flows into Owasco Lake. Currently, high stream flows are carrying nutrients directly to the lake, encouraging the growth of algal blooms.
The approval of this project complements the state's ongoing efforts to protect and improve water quality in the region. Along with a $712,500 grant to advance this project, the state has provided more than $2 million to construct state-of-the-art water treatment systems in The City of Auburn and Town of Owasco to remove algal toxins from the drinking water supply and has also established the Finger Lakes Water Hub to study algal blooms and undertake pollution reduction projects.
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "As DEC continues to develop solutions to address harmful algal blooms in Owasco Lake through the work of our Finger Lakes Water Hub, the Army Corps approval of the necessary permits for the Owasco Flats Restoration Initiative have paved the way for this important project to begin. DEC will continue to work closely with Cayuga County and stands ready to provide any assistance they need as this projects moves forward."
With the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits, Cayuga County can now begin advancing necessary bidding to commence construction activities this fall. This project is one of many underway to address the contributing factors causing excess nutrients to enter the lake which fuel growth of algal blooms. New York State will continue to investigate water quality impairments in the region and advance additional measures to improve conditions in Owasco Lake.
Keith Batman, Chairman of the Cayuga County Legislature, said, "It's great to see all levels of Government working together to help our County advance this critical project. Thanks to Governor Cuomo's attention and persistence and Senator Schumer's intervention and support, with these necessary Army Corps permits and support from DEC, we can now advance towards construction of this major initiative that will help improve water quality and help protect the drinking water supply our residents rely on every day."
City of Auburn Mayor Michael D. Quill said, "The protection of the Owasco Lake Watershed is a top priority for the City of Auburn because it is our source of public drinking water. The restoration of the Owasco Flats project is a major component of the watershed management effort. The Governor has made watershed protection and safe drinking water issues a priority and we thank him for doing everything he could to make sure things moved forward as fast as possible."
Ed Wagner, Town of Owasco Supervisor said, “Watershed enhancements like the Owasco Flats project will not only help improve the quality of our drinking water source, but all aspects of lake recreation. The Town appreciates Governor Cuomo’s support for this project—from funding to ensuring state and federal agencies are working together for a healthier Owasco Lake.”