SANDY CREEK, N.Y. — Dredging of North Sandy Pond is underway as part of a 20-site state dredging plan to protect shorelines from rising waters, with the Sandy Pond sediment removal also aimed at clearing the navigation channel for boaters and restoring lost shoreline.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week announced the start of the North Sandy Pond dredging, which was part of the state’s $300 million Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI) — a response to 2017 and 2019 flooding.
The $300 million plan set aside $15 million to complete a series of backlogged projects along the southern shore of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, including North Sandy Pond.
“The REDI program is a testament to what can be accomplished when state and local government work together,” said Cuomo, who visited North Sandy Pond in February to announce the dredging project. “North Sandy Pond is the fourth site under this program that will help build more resilient communities as climate change continues to be our reality. The project ensures New Yorkers will be able to continue to enjoy one of their favorite summer destinations.”
The North Sandy Pond dredging project started last week, according to state officials, and follows the completion of similar projects in Wayne County at Port Bay last year and at Blind Sodus Bay and East Bay earlier this year.
State officials said the North Sandy Pond project is expected to take approximately a month to complete, but the timeline is dependent on weather and site conditions. The project is slated to remove more than 4,000 cubic yards of sediment and debris that has collected just inshore of the navigation channel.
The inlet where the dredging will take place is a narrow strip of land that separates North Sandy Pond to the east from Lake Ontario to the west. To the east of the pond are residential neighborhoods, many of which were flooded in 2019, that need protection from the Great Lake.
Heavy erosion of the sandy barrier bar that stretches across North Sandy Pond and shelters it from the full force of Lake Ontario has caused the sediment to get deposited at the mouth of the channel, according to the state. Dredged sediment will be placed on the barrier bar to rebuild depleted beaches and dune, and officials say the project will help protect shoreline residences and businesses against flooding.
State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos said the North Sandy Pond dredging is a critical component of the REDI program, adding the state’s dredging projects “enhance harbor navigation channels and sustain local economy activity without compromising environmental protections.”
According to Cuomo’s office, the effort will also increase the resiliency of the beaches, including Sandy Island Beach State Park, and benefit the habitats of the area’s plover and other wildlife populations. Officials said the work would avoid disturbing a Lake Ontario shipwreck located in the area.
“North Sandy Pond and Sandy Island Beach State Park are significant tourism destinations and crucial to the region's quality of life,” said state Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Erik Kulleseid, adding the state’s commitment would enhance the local appeal to park visitors and recreational boaters.
East Syracuse-based Prudent Engineering conducted a pre-design survey of the North Sandy Pond channel to determine the extent of dredging required and will conduct a post-dredge survey to ensure the desired bottom depth for safe navigation is reached.
Pulaski-based BDS Interior-Exterior LLC is performing the actual dredging work in North Sandy Pond. Brian Wallace, of BDS, said in February if the dredging did not take place it would expose properties to the potentially hazardous waves from Lake Ontario rather than the calmer waters of the pond.
The first two phases of the three-phase dredging project address the necessary dredging of 20 navigation channels, according to the governor’s office, with the final phase seeing the state provide counties with the information needed to update, expand and implement management plans to keep channels operational in the future.
In addition to the North Sandy Pond project, Port Ontario in Oswego County was included in the state’s list of 20 dredging sites.