SILVER CREEK – The many areas impacted by the low water levels in the harbor at Cattaraugus Creek were discussed at a meeting held Monday in Hanover Town Hall.
Chautauqua County Legislator George Borrello coordinated the meeting that brought together representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, County Executive Gregory Edwards, Sen. Cathy Young, Assemblyman Andrew Goodell and many other local and state officials.
Borrello said that the creek area now measures very low in the boat launch area. He said local residents estimate that the water levels may be down to 18 inches in some areas.
Borrello stressed at the meeting that there were many issues at stake concerning the condition of the small-boat harbor and the depth of the creek.
Chautauqua County Planning Director Bill Daly and Chadwick Bay Regional Director Kathy Tampio discussed economic concerns related to the low water, because the harbor provides a place for sport fishermen and recreational boaters to launch.
Representatives from the corps promised they could provide cost estimates on a dredging project for the harbor within one week. Borrello suggested that the county would be the lead agency in the efforts, and Daly agreed that a regional effort should also involve communication with Dunkirk officials to determine how that city’s harbor has been affected.
The Barcelona Harbor near Westfield has already been placed on the Army Corps’ schedule for dredging in 2014. According to information supplied at the meeting, that harbor was significantly damaged when Superstorm Sandy impacted much of the Eastern coastal states.
The corps has not participated in a dredging project at Cattaraugus Creek since the harbor’s breakwater project in 1983. At that time, about 55,000 tons of sediment was removed from the federal channel at the harbor.
The Town of Hanover did a small dredging project at its own boat launch area about 11 years ago, according to Town Highway Superintendent Steve D’Angelo. About 8,000 tons was removed and put to use as gravel and fill for town highway projects.
Besides the local launch run by the town, the harbor contains a boat launch that is operated by the Department of Environmental Conservation, on Cattaraugus Creek near the harbor’s lakefront area. Borrello said the DEC contract called for dredging every five years after the breakwaters were installed in the harbor.
The meeting’s outcomes included commitments from the senator’s and assemblyman’s office to contact the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to ask for help getting the harbor dredged and an offer from Daly to get the county planning and watershed departments involved.