FULTON, NY – At the recent Common Council meeting, it was announced that Senator Patty Ritchie was able to obtain $200,000 to put towards the Lake Neatahwanta cleanup effort. The money will be split evenly between the city of Fulton and town of Granby.
The city of Fulton and town of Granby each host their own committees. The Lake Reclamation Project Committee out of Fulton chaired by Mayor Ron Woodward, and Lake Neatahwanta Reclamation Committee out of Granby chaired by Supervisor Ed Williamson.
Currently, both committees are waiting on quotes and raising money to fund tests and dredging equipment, and applying for DEC permits. Both believe the cleanup effort now is closer than ever before to becoming a reality and if permits go through dredging can begin as soon as July.
The lake will have to be cleaned in sections, starting with Stevenson Beach on the Fulton side and the Tannery Creek area on the Granby side.
According to Mayor Woodward, the biggest issue facing the lake right now is the turbidity or water clarity. Turbidity is measured using a black and white device called a secchi disk, and if the water is too turbid, or not clear enough, it’s not safe to swim.
Currently, both the city of Fulton and town of Granby are working through the “red tape” needed to obtain DEC permits.
The question still remains whether or not both the town and city will obtain permits, or if only one will be issued.
“They will not issue a joint permit,” said Supervisor Williamson.
Before any material can be taken from the lake the DEC needs to know what’s in it.
Basically, Mayor Woodward explained, “Before we can get any kind of permit the DEC has to tell you how you can get rid of the dredge material.”
Core samples of lake sediment of must be taken from different areas of the lake and then tested to find out what exactly the dredges will be cleaning out.
Some materials may be harmful so extra precautions will need to be taken in disposing of this waste.
For example, there have been issues with the Onondaga Lake dredging project concerning the smell of the material being pumped onto the shores. Dredging had to cease while measures were taken to cut down on the smell.
The mayor’s plan to avoid a smelly city and keep the waste from being pumped on the shore is to pump everything from the dredges into geotextile tubes or geotubes.
These tubes contain a polymer that separates the solids from the water. Clean water filters out of the tubes and other materials dry inside them. The dry material can then be disposed of or reused depending on the DEC recommendation.
The money received from the Senator would cover the cost of purchasing the dredge, but the project with all its various components with paying for core sample evaluations and all the dredge equipment, and Fulton’s geotubes will be expensive.
“The equipment to dredge the material from the lake is $87,000 plus,” said Supervisor Williamson. “I’m trying to get as many people to help at no cost as possible.”
Both groups are in discussions with local legislatures about securing money, applying for grants, and also “Looking for money from local people,” Supervisor Williamson added.
Even though the lake cleanup is an expensive undertaking, both committees recognize the positive impact a clean lake would have on the community and its economy.
Supervisor Williamson called Lake Neatahwanta a “tremendous asset to Upstate New York.”
“I want to put it back for the kids,” said Mayor Woodward. “So they’ll have what I had as a kid.”
Once the lake is clean, the goal is for families to use it again.
The area will be accessible to swimmers, boaters, fisherman, ice fisherman in winter and even duck hunters.
People can use the beach, picnic, and hopefully even rent boats and fishing equipment.
Events can be held on the shores and local businesses will get a pick-me-up, officials noted.