A critical endeavor to protect local waterways from infiltration by raw sewage is officially underway.
A ground-breaking ceremony for the village of Fredonia's Canadaway Creek erosion abatement project took place Tuesday near the wastewater treatment plant on Route 5 in the town of Dunkirk.
The project, which involves the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, first flooded the minds of local officials in 1999 during former mayor Frank Pagano's term. At that time, it was decided something must be done to protect the village's sewer main from nearby Canadaway Creek, which had meandered more than 100 feet toward it over the course of 50 years.
OBSERVER Photo by Greg Fox
Area officials on Tuesday break ground for Fredonia’s Canadaway Creek erosion abatement project. Pictured, from left: Lt. Col. Karl Jansen, Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District commander; Jacqueline Chiarot, regional director for Rep. Tom Reed; Stephen Keefe, Fredonia mayor; and Andrew Goodell, state assemblyman.
"I guess training a creek is like trying to train a cat - you don't tell them what they do, they just kind of do it," Mayor Stephen Keefe remarked. "It's been a scary situation for us for a number of years. The creek has been meandering closely to a sewer trunk line. If that line ever ruptures, the flow of human waste would flow down the creek, right into Lake Erie, and create a major environmental disaster."
Lt. Col. Karl Jansen, Army Corps Buffalo District commander, explained the project entails placing an 800-foot revetment (a trench-fill section of rock offset from the creek) that protects the sewer line.
If the eroded creek reaches that revetment, the rocks in the trench will fall into place, creating a natural, protected streambank.
"This ground-breaking is truly cause for celebration," Jansen added. "This project is a win-win for the local area and the environment. It protects both the critical infrastructure for public health and it protects the critical aquatic habitat and the environment."
Jansen pointed out the Army Corps in late July awarded the project to a Cheektowaga-based contractor for $343,125. Crews should complete work within the next few months.
Keefe thanked a number of people, including Trustee Joseph Cerrie, who helped secure a $700,000 federal grant through U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins to cover the project's cost.
The total project cost (including feasibility, design and implementation) is currently estimated at $877,000. Fredonia is contributing a local share of about 35 percent ($308,000), with the grant paying for the rest.
"This project involved a lot of players and a lot of teamwork ... to make sure that a critical project that's important for the future of Fredonia becomes a reality," state Assemblyman Andrew Goodell said, noting he got involved when Fredonia Village Attorney Samuel Drayo asked him to help with engineering cost allocations. "I look forward to the completion of this project."
Jacqueline Chiarot, regional director for U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, pointed out Chautauqua County's waterways are "one of the most beautiful assets that we enjoy here."
"We have Chautauqua Lake, Lake Erie and Canadaway Creek, which provides such enjoyment; it's such an economic driver here and it's what draws people to this area," she said. "With this project, we'll be able to stop that erosion from reaching the sewer line."
Other officials in attendance included Chautauqua County Legislator Janet Keefe, Kevin Muldowney of state Sen. Cathy Young's office, Wastewater Plant Chief Operator Betsy Sly, Army Corps Public Affairs Specialist Andrew Kornacki and Army Corps Project Manager Casimir "Casey" Brzozowiec.
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