Onondaga Lake capping and dredging officially finished

Lake ecological and recreational restoration plan released

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - A major milestone for Onondaga Lake, the capping and dredging is now officially complete but the work there is far from over.

The Lake is now entering the next phase known as the natural resource damage assessment and restoration process.

Honeywell Senior Vice President Kate Adams says, "I'm so happy for the community that it has come back.  It's swimmable, fishable, boatable."

According to the standards of State and Federal regulators Onondaga Lake is clean.

14 years of earnest and in many cases groundbreaking work has finally wrapped up to reverse decades of pollution.

"The dredging technology was quite novel, very sophisticated.  We used a lot of interesting software and digital tools and then the capping as well.  Engineered cap was unique, first of its kind."  Adams tells NewsChannel 9.

That's only part of the comeback story.  Honeywell will still be funding projects State DEC and US Fish and Wildlife are launching to best restore what was affected by the years of pollution.

Ken Lynch, Executive Deputy Commissioner at the State DEC says, "This is really Phase 3 I'll call it.  We're going into, okay, the Lake is almost clean its getting there we're ready to take the next step and the next step is let's build habitat and recreational opportunities around the lake."

There are 20 different proposed projects and Lynch says most can be completed over the next 10 years.

"I've been working on this for 20+ years and I've been hearing from a lot of people why don't you do a boat launch here.  Why don't you extend a trail, why don't you improve the wetlands around the lake so every one of these projects incorporate some of those ideas."  Lynch says.

The draft restoration plan and environmental assessment includes these projects.

  • Extension of the Erie Canalway Trail from Camillus to the Loop the Lake Trail (3.2 miles) and from the Honeywell Visitor Center to Harbor Brook (1.2 miles);
  • Preservation, habitat restoration and public access to over 1,400 acres along Ninemile and Onondaga Creeks in the Onondaga Lake watershed, including public fishing rights and parking areas;
  • Installation of structures within over 275 acres of Onondaga Lake to provide habitat for fish, amphibians and invertebrates;
  • Fifteen years of funding for the identification and removal of invasive species within about 1,700 acres of wetlands, lake/river littoral zone and riparian habitat;
  • Restoration of wetland and fish habitat at Onondaga County parklands;
  • 100 acres of warm season grassland restoration;
  • Deepwater fishing pier on Onondaga Lake;
  • Enhancement of jetties at the Onondaga Lake outlet to improve access for all;
  • Boat launch to be developed along the Seneca River;
  • Transfer of the Honeywell Visitor Center to a public agency;
  • Future Restoration Projects Fund.

The agencies are soliciting comments on this draft plan through June 2, 2017.

Comments may be submitted by mail to Anne Secord, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 3817 Luker Road, Cortland, New York 13045 and by email to anne_secord@fws.gov.

Click here for the full draft plan.

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