Congressman Brian Higgins joined U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District Commander Lt. Col. Karl Jansen to announce a $2.179 million dredging project in the Black Rock Channel.
"This is a project that provides economic and environmental returns, cleaning up decades-old contaminants and opening up the navigation channel for recreational and commercial vessels," said Higgins, a member of the Great Lakes Task Force. "Western New York is just starting to experience our potential as a great waterfront community, but with that must come a continued commitment protecting and enhancing the fresh water at our doorstep."
"Dredging the Black Rock Channel adds to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative's growing track record of success across many Areas of Concern," Jansen said. "Accomplishing these environmental projects are promising leading indicators that strong partnerships and dedicated resources will ultimately restore and sustain our precious natural resources, while ensuring the vitality of the Great Lakes navigation system - the backbone of our nation's industrial might."
Work will focus on three areas of the channel: Dredging in the first area, closest to the Black Rock Channel entrance - water adjacent to LaSalle Park - was completed in November and December. Currently underway is dredging in the water between the Peace Bridge and Black Rock Lock, as well the area between the lock and entrance to the Niagara River. Work on these two phases began in July and is on schedule to be completed by the fall.
In total, 250,000 cubic yards of material will be removed from the channel. The dredging will take away legacy sediment, material which may contain industrial contaminants from years past. The project is supported through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a coordinated effort to improve the health of the Great Lakes, and will improve the Niagara River Area of Concern, one of 43 sites along the Great Lakes identified for remedial action.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District is responsible for the planning, construction and operation of water projects to maintain navigation across a 38,000-square-mile area that includes lakes Erie and Ontario.
Luedtke Engineering, a Michigan company, family-owned and operated for 85 years, which has also done extensive work in the Buffalo River, is the contractor for the project.
The Great Lakes contain 95 percent of America's fresh water and supplies drinking water to more than 30 million people in North America. A Brookings Institute report found Buffalo would see economic gains between $600 million to $1.1 billion if the Great Lakes are restored.