OLCOTT, N.Y. — New York State says it's near completion on a program to dredge harbors along the Lake Ontario shoreline stretching from the Niagara Frontier to the Thousand Islands region.
It's the Obama administration's conservation program that ended up increasing water levels in Lake Ontario resulting in devastating flooding along its south shore in 2017.
The state came up with $300 million to rebuild damaged areas and protect others in the future.
$15 million has been spent to dredge 20 harbors in six shoreline counties.
"It means we're gonna be able to protect the sales tax revenue that's being generated out of our harbors through recreational boating and fishing and it's been a long time coming," said Dave Godfrey, a member of the Niagara County Legislature.
Orleans County Legislature Chair Lynne Johnson agreed the work was vital to protect the economies of shoreline communities.
"Tourism is a multi-million dollar business and if we had harbors where people could not get in and out to do their boating and fishing it would devastate all six counties," she said.
The state also announced that it would be handing over the management of future dredging projects to the counties, after providing much of the leg work they will need to embark on those efforts.
"We were able to identify the frequency of dredging that needs to take place, where those locations are, and how they should be dredged," said NYS Commissioner of the Office of General Services Jeanette Moy.
"We were able to give the counties some real detailed engineering information to make sure they are ready to do this work on their own," she said.
"They (the state) are handing over the permitting and all the work they have done," said Godfrey. "It gives us a really good foundation going forward."