New York Senator Charles E. Schumer yesterday announced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved federal wetland permits, enabling local officials to begin the critical Owasco Flats Wetlands Restoration project.
Schumer said that with final approval secured, work can now enter the bidding phase.
The Owasco Flats Wetland Restoration project will reduce toxins in the lake by filtering the unwanted nutrients and sediment that cause the harmful algal blooms through dug basins and vegetation before the water enters the lake.
Additionally the project will restore floodplains to lessen damage from heavy rains. Schumer said Phase 1 of the proposed project was previously approved and funded by the state, but a federal wetland permit from USACE was still needed for the project to begin.
Schumer said that the officials have received the permit and the necessary approvals have been secured.
“The Owasco Flats Restoration Project is a critical tool for local officials to beat back algal blooms and protect the county’s largest source of drinking water – which is why I asked the Army Corps to act fast when granting necessary approvals,” said Senator Schumer.
“With Phase 1 already funded and all governmental approvals received, the real work can begin to improve the water quality of the lake.”
The Owasco Flats Restoration Project has long been identified as a key tool to reduce phosphorus and sediment loads running into Owasco Lake, thereby reducing the likelihood of harmful algae toxins seeping into drinking water.
The State Environmental Facilities Corporation awarded the county $712,000 for Phase I of the project in 2011. The project was previously held up by state and federal permitting processes.
With the State Department of Environmental Conservation issuing their permits earlier this month, the last step was for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue a federal wetland permit and an environmental assessment.