FULTON, NY – In the third year of dredging Lake Neatahwanta, Fulton Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr. said that the process will move along “much faster” now as new equipment and training has been secured.
The city of Fulton purchased a dredge from Groh Dredging, the contractor that had been performing the dredging in the first years of the project.
Half of the purchase came from funding through NYS Senator Patty Ritchie’s office, providing $100,000 to help secure the dredge.
Additionally, Groh Dredging sent a certified employee to conduct a three-day on-site training for city employees so the dredging operation can move on with all city owned and trained resources.
“We were paying $200,000 a year to have the dredging done from an out-of-state source with help from Senator Ritchie’s office but now that we own the dredge and have employees trained, we will only have to pay hours and fuel cost. We will be able to get a hell of a lot more done and for less money,” Woodward said.
Currently dredging along C.C.W. Barrett Drive behind the Fulton War Memorial, geotube bags are lined along the road and the dredge is anchored in the water.
Woodward explained the dredging process in which the dredge an attached “arm with teeth” is lowered to the bottom of the lake, turning and sucking up water and sediment through a pump.
The water and sediment is sent through a hose to connected geotube bags on the shore.
An environmentally safe chemical, flocculant, then separates the water from the solid material, at which time clean water seeps out of the tubes and returns to the lake.
Reaching depths of four – five feet, Woodward said restoring the lake to its original depth will help combat the presence of the harmful blue-green algae that contaminated the lake and made it unswimmable.
According to the NYS Department of Health, blue-green algae thrives in “warm, shallow, undisturbed, nutrient-rich surface waters that receive a lot of sunlight.”
Dredging, the disturbance of nutrients in the water that contribute to blue green algae growth, along with restoring the depth of the water and letting in cold springs are all contributing factors to making the lake swimmable again, Woodward said.
The goal, with seven years left of a ten-year permit, is to make Lake Neatahwanta in its entirety safe and available for recreational use.
However, the entire lake does not need to be dredged, Woodward clarified.
At a total of 700 acres, primarily portions on the side of the lake belonging to the City of Fulton will require dredging due to the direction of the wind.
Areas in the middle of the lake or on the side of the lake belonging to the Town of Granby, will not need to be dredged.
Currently, the city is working on a 300 ft. square grid, as per the language of the permit requiring the lake to be sectioned off for dredge work.
Once the 300 ft. square grid is completed, they will move on to another 300 ft. square grid.
Though city officials started the dredging process late this year due to the finalization of the dredge purchase and necessary training, Mayor Woodward is hopeful they will be able to dredge 10,000 yards, or one full geotube bag, before the lake begins to freeze.
In the first year, 20,000 yards were dredged, the equivalent of 800 dump trucks worth of sediment.
If prior years, the city has sold or donated the sediment to local companies such as Riccelli-Northern and W.D. Malone to be used as topsoil additive.
Next year, the city will begin dredging on May 1 and work through the season until the lake is ready to freeze and will continue to follow that pattern for the duration of the permit.