Onondaga Lake Dredging, Capping and Habitat Restoration Completed; Onondaga Lake Well on its Way to Becoming a Sustainable Ecosystem for Years to Come.
Honeywell has completed the dredging, capping and habitat restoration of Onondaga Lake. The result of more than two decades and millions of hours of intensive effort, the work was completed through an unwavering focus on sound science, technical excellence, collaboration, community engagement, health and safety, and sustainable practices. Habitat restoration, a major focus of the cleanup, was completed in 2017. Hundreds of Central New York scientists, engineers, and skilled craft laborers worked with Honeywell achieving this significant progress implementing lake improvement plans under the jurisdiction of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
Honeywell is now implementing a comprehensive Onondaga Lake Monitoring and Maintenance Plan under the oversight of DEC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ensure the remedy meets the long-term objectives outlined in the cleanup plan. Also, Honeywell’s commitment to encouraging community volunteers to become environmental stewards continues through the Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps, founded by Honeywell in partnership with Audubon.
Protection of the public’s health and safety was an important part of every stage of the work to restore Onondaga Lake. Community Health and Safety Plans were reviewed by DEC and the New York State Department of Health. Air monitoring results are available here.
Dredging and capping were critical components of the lake cleanup plan, which was based on sound science and incorporated input from top national and local scientists, engineers, experts in the field, and community members, who participated in a series of public meetings held since 2004. Significant upgrades made by Onondaga County to its municipal wastewater treatment system plus the construction of an underground barrier wall, which intercepts contaminated groundwater from old industrial sites from reaching the lake, have improved lake water quality to the best in 100 years.
Wildlife is returning faster than expected; more than 260 species of fish, birds and other wildlife have already returned to restored habitat near the lake. About 90 acres of wetlands have been restored and about 1.1 million native plants are being planted.
At Geddes Brook 21 acres of land have been transformed into a diverse new habitat for wildlife, including more than 13 acres of wetlands. The improved Geddes Brook is part of a green corridor connecting habitat from Onondaga Lake to upland sites.
Wetlands around the old LCP Chemicals site in Geddes are filled with about 12,000 native trees and plants that are attracting wildlife.
Work to remediate forested wetlands, enhance stream conditions for fish spawning and migration, and improve habitat along the lower portion of Nine Mile Creek began in 2012 and was completed in 2014.
The Western Shoreline, located west of the Onondaga Lake Visitors Center in Geddes, is being covered and vegetated, and wetlands have been established in low-lying areas. Approximately 70,000 native plants have been planted in 30 acres to improve habitat. Approximately 10 acres of wetlands have been created or restored along the shoreline to support shorebird and amphibian habitats.
In Onondaga Lake, more than 18 acres of restored in-lake and shoreline wetlands have been established near the mouth of Nine Mile Creek with approximately 150,000 native plants. At the Southwest Lakeshore and Harbor Brook, 14 acres of wetlands and 4 acres of shoreline have been restored with approximately 167,000 native plants, including several thousand trees and shrubs. More than 1,000 habitat structures, such as boulder and rock piles, have been installed in Onondaga Lake to improve habitat for fish.
With native vegetation continuing to thrive and diverse habitats returning, a green corridor is emerging, connecting the lake to restored tributaries and beyond. These physical connections are creating critical linkages between a restored lake and the broader Onondaga Lake watershed, which over time will continue to flourish and provide expanding benefits.