By Matthew Reitz
The city of Fulton and the town of Granby are both moving ahead with the dredging of Lake Neatahwanta this month.
Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. said efforts in the city could begin as early as Friday, and Chairman of the Lake Neatahwanta Reclamation Committee Ed Williamson said the dredging operation in Granby is already underway.
Woodward said Groh Dredging and Marine Construction, the same contractor used last year, will be arriving with the dredge as early as Friday to begin setting up. Woodward said it will take a few days to get situated, but sediment removal could resume as early as next week.
He said the ongoing efforts were “a good thing,” and the lake is now closer to becoming a more useful part of the community.
“What we did last year made a big difference in the water quality in that area,” Woodward said. “If we continue, it will only improve it further.”
Local officials believe the 750-acre lake can once again be a valuable recreational resource for the city and town.
The water was deemed unsafe by the Oswego County Health Department nearly three decades ago, but officials believe removing the sediment will open the flow of freshwater springs that feed the lake and restore the water quality.
The dredging efforts in Fulton and Granby each secured state funding last year, and community fundraising efforts have also been successful. Williamson said he was “so proud” of the people that continue to support the effort.
He said collections at Mimi’s Drive-in and NBT Bank, along with several large donations of both money and services continue to help move the project forward.
The Lake Neatahwanta Revitalization Corporation — which administers Fulton’s portion of the project — began work last September after awarding the project to Illinois-based Groh.
In just two months, the dredging effort in the city was able to remove more than 20,000 cubic yards of sediment.
Rather than hire a contractor, the Granby operation — The Lake Neatahwanta Reclamation Committee — opted to purchase the equipment and conduct the work with volunteers.
Williamson said the on shore infrastructure is now functional, but not totally completed. He said there was a “storage trailer set up down there,” and one of the collection pits is finished with a second in the works.
Earlier this month, Kansas City-based Geo Form International, the manufacturer of the equipment, trained several volunteers in Granby. Williamson said those individuals will train the remaining volunteers, and so far two volunteers have been training each week.
He said there are around 25 people that have expressed interest in helping, and volunteers will also have the option to take a water safety course conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard. Williamson said he expects to have enough volunteers trained to begin steady work in a couple of weeks.
“By the end of the month we should have a daily schedule set up,” he said.