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Source: News 10 Now

Onondaga Lake clean-up being designed


Posted: October 27, 2009
Originally Published: October 27, 2009

It's not necessarily visible just yet. But there is a lot going on along Onondaga Lake. Honeywell is working with the government's environmental agencies to launch an epic lake cleanup. Our Kat De Maria tells how the project is coming along and what a new group is doing to keep people informed about it.

LIVERPOOL, N.Y.--"Onondaga Lake is just the central jewel of our community," Dereth Glance said.

On a sunny October afternoon, the lake looks like the gem Glance is discussing. But unfortunately, years of industrial and other pollution have made the area's jewel...a little murky.

County leaders have been working to improve water quality. Meanwhile, industry has been charged with cleaning up its mess. About three years ago, Honeywell agreed to dredge some two-million cubic yards of the lake floor and cap the most polluted sections. Since then, leaders have been been figuring out how to do it.

"We have 100+ engineers here in Syracuse doing the design of the lake bottom clean-up," said Honeywell Syracuse Program Director John McAuliffe.

"There's a lot of design work, a lot of information Honeywell has to put together and design for the DEC, EPA and others to review," said DEC Region 7 Director Ken Lynch.

Part of that process is public comment. Glance heads up the Citizens Participation Working Group, formed to get people engaged with different aspects of the plan, like health and safety, and habitat.

"What do we want that to look like? What kind of waterfowl do we want to see? What kind of fish communities do we want to promote? What kind of recreational opportunities and access to our lake do we want to see?" Glance said.

Honeywell leaders say they're going to be submitting different parts of the design plan over the next couple of years. Meanwhile, they're also going to be gathering input on and updating those proposals, as well as putting people and infrastructure in place so that dredging can start, as scheduled, in 2012.

"There is an awful lot going into this. It's one of the largest remediation projects not only in New York state but in the country," Lynch said.

Glance says the citizens group will do its part to keep people informed, and look forward to the day when Onondaga Lake can proudly be considered a jewel once again.

The DEC will hold a public meeting on some of the design plans early next year. Once dredging begins, it's expected to last for about four years. Leaders say the project could cost some $450 million.