Gov. Andrew Cuomo late Thursday afternoon announced the state is designating seven streams in Oneida and Herkimer counties as high flood risk streams.
With the designation, the streams will become eligible for immediate assistance from the state, including the elimination of restrictions on gravel removal, funding for new stream stabilization projects that will begin this summer and the deployment of “stream teams” to assist localities with stream stabilization, according to a news release.
The seven streams are Fulmer, Steele, Mohawk and Moyer creeks and Bellinger Brook in Herkimer County and Sauquoit and Oriskany creeks in Oneida County.
Streams in other communities across the state may be designated as high flood risk streams as the pilot program is expanded, the release stated.
“The recent flooding devastated towns and villages along rivers and streams across our state and today we are taking immediate action to ensure our communities in high risk areas are better protected from rising waters and severe weather,” said Cuomo.
“The steps we are taking will enable flood control and mitigation projects to begin this summer in communities that were hit the hardest by the recent floods. By designating these seven streams in Oneida and Herkimer counties as high flood risk streams, the state is taking immediate action to prevent a repeat of the devastating flooding that caused so much pain and destruction in communities in these two counties,” he added.
Cuomo said the state will establish a program to designate streams that present high risk for flooding and resulting infrastructure and residential damage.
This, he said, will prioritize short-term and long-term preparation of response to severe weather results resulting in significant flooding.
“It gives (local crews) more flexibility for these municipalities to go in and do some real productive work,” said Herkimer County Legislature Chairman Vincent Bono.
Cuomo said the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s “stream teams” will be deployed to the seven streams to assist communities in finding ways to become more resilient in the face of climate change and storms.
The teams will help focus state, local and federal partners on work that will have immediate and long-term benefits for these communities, he said. The teams will work closely with local officials, landowners and state and federal partners to expedite projects and ensure there are no unintended consequences resulting from poorly designed projects that could destabilize streams and impact nearby homes or roads, he said.
The projects will seek to reduce peak flood levels through in-stream and landscape practices, including storm water detention basins to hold water in upland areas; stream projects to restore a more stable and natural meander pattern; rightsizing culverts to reduce debris snags and flood water backups; construction of wetlands, flood plain-to-stream reconnections, stream buffers and erosion-reducing re-vegetation and green infrastructure to detain runoff instead of allowing it to jettison into streams, according to the news release.
Page 2 of 2 - The DEC will eliminate a general permit requirement covering the Mohawk Valley that constrains the removal of gravel at a level below six inches above existing water levels and that the state, in partnership with the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service Emergency Watershed Protection Program and local governments, will undertake stream stabilization and flood reduction projects this summer in Herkimer and Oneida counties.
“We’ve been seeing more and more incidents of flooding along the stream systems themselves,” said Robert Vandawalker, director of the Herkimer County Office of Emergency Services. “When we do have flooding, it would be advantageous to have ponding areas, different things.”
Herkimer County projects will include a $228,000 stream stabilization project in Fulmer Creek in the town of German Flatts to stabilize 600 feet of stream bank. A related stream restoration project on Fulmer Creek is under design and will be funded through the DEC’s Mohawk River Basin Program; a $249,000 stream stabilization project at the intersection of West River Street and English Street in the village of Ilion; a $35,000 flood reduction project along Steele Creek in the village of Ilion; an $8,737 project at Edgebrook Estates along Moyer Creek in the town of Frankfort; an $8,004 project at the village of Frankfort power facility along Moyer Creek and an $8,857 project at the Ronald Road tributary to Bellinger Brook in the village of Herkimer.
Oneida County projects include a $90,823 debris and stone shoal removal project at the CSX bridge on Sauquoit Creek; a $43,494 flood mitigation and stream stabilization project at Paris Bank on Sauquoit Creek and $102,000 for stream restoration projects on Sauquoit and Mud Creeks that were identified by Oneida County officials.
“As he has done when previous storms inflicted significant damage, Gov, Cuomo has stepped up immediately to provide the resources needed to help communities recover from the devastation. These initiatives provide valuable tools to help us stabilize streams, minimize flooding risks and protect families, businesses and farms from severe storms,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a news release.
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