Onondaga Lake

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

This was a milestone year in the ongoing cleanup of Onondaga Lake. The Honeywell Corporation finished up the dredging portion of the cleanup this fall, removing 2.2 million cubic yards of toxic sludge from the bottom of the lake a year ahead of schedule.

The dredging has probably  been the most visible part of the company’s $451 million lake clean up plan.

Syracuse University engineering professor Charlie Driscoll says the community is close to the end of a massive cleanup effort of a waterway that, for years, was a dumping ground for industry.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Construction can now begin on an amphitheater on the western shore of Onondaga Lake.

Onondaga County lawmakers agreed Monday to borrow almost $50 million to build the venue. Opponents, like Republican Kathleen Rapp, voted against the plan, suggesting it doesn’t have enough of an economic punch.

“It’s like your family budget," Rapp said. "You’d like to do everything. I would love to do this amphitheater, but not at the cost of giving up other things that would give far bigger return to taxpayers.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Update: The Onondaga County Legislature voted today to borrow $50 million to build an amphitheater along Onondaga Lake. The vote passed by a 12-5 margin. The five members of the legislature who voted against the proposition were Kevin Holmquist, Judith Tassone, Kathleen Rapp, Casey Jordan and Peggy Chase. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Slightly lower property taxes and decreased spending are the hallmarks of Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s proposed $1.25 billion spending plan.

The debate over the budget may ultimately be overshadowed by another proposal from Mahoney this week for a bond that will pay for the Onondaga Lake amphitheater project.

At the end of ten days of budget reviews, county lawmakers have injected a review of the western Onondaga Lake revitalization project, that includes construction of an amphitheater on the west shore of Onondaga Lake.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The only scheduled public hearing on the proposed amphitheater project on Onondaga Lake drew mostly criticism Wednesday. The project, which has been fast-tracked by the state legislature, would put the concert venue on land that was used as a dumping place for industrial waste for years.

borisvolodnikov / Flickr

As the removal and capping of industrial pollutants in Onondaga Lake continues, planning for the next phase of restoration is beginning.

Honeywell’s dredging of the lake shore and wetlands restoration is meant to remediate and prevent further damage from chemicals dumped in and near the water. Now environmentalists are eyeing how to make Onondaga Lake useable again. 

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Onondaga County fleshed out details of the $100 million Onondaga Lake West project for residents of Solvay Wednesday night.  

One of the highlights of the presentation was a virtual video tour of the lake view amphitheater, starting at a box office then winding down tree lined sidewalks, past a small amphitheater and festival grounds to the main amphitheater on Lakeview Point.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

This summer, environmental questions will be heard surrounding the construction of a new amphitheater on the old Solvay waste beds along Onondaga Lake. A draft environmental impact statement surrounding the project will soon be up for review.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

It’s been a century since the west side of Onondaga Lake has been available to the general public. That changes this weekend, when Onondaga County opens up the West Shore Trail. This is the latest step in reclaiming what was once the most polluted lake in the country.

For nearly 30 years, waste from production of soda ash by Allied Chemical in Solvay was dumped into waste beds along the western shore of Onondaga Lake.  What was left was a field of dry, chalky white alkaline waste rising 60 feet above the lake shore and covering 300 acres.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The transformation of the former Sainte Marie among the Iroquois museum on Onondaga Lake into a Haudenosaunee heritage center continues. Museum experts are in the midst of reprogramming the focus of the museum and are looking for help from the public.

Rick Hill is a guest curator working on the interpretive script for the new Skä•noñh Great Law of Peace Center. He says it’s going to be a different kind of museum.

Greg Craybas

Local photographers are showing off pictures of wildlife and birds returning to Onondaga Lake, during an exhibit open to the public this weekend at Honeywell’s Onondaga Lake Visitors Center in Geddes. The images are meant to show the public that the lake is being restored.

Like the canary in the coal mine, birds are often a harbinger of the health of an ecosystem, says Audubon of New York Executive Director Erin Crotty.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO (file photo)

A combined $100 million redevelopment project for the western side of Onondaga Lake will bring new housing and street upgrades to the village of Solvay and a 17,000 seat entertainment venue to the shoreline of the lake.

It's not the project Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney hoped to bring Gov. Andrew Cuomo to town to announce, but when Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner derailed Mahoney's and Syracuse University's idea for a new athletic stadium in the city, the county executive quickly shifted to this one.

"This project hits it exactly right," said Cuomo.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Central New York should soon have answers about a mystery redevelopment project on the western shore of Onondaga Lake. In his budget released last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed spending $30 million of state money on an economic development project in Onondaga County. He’s expected to outline those details during a visit to Onondaga County Wednesday.

The Onondaga County Legislature is also expected to chip in some money in the early stages of what would be a massive economic development project.

USDAgov / Flickr

Now that the Emerald Ash Borer has been confirmed in Onondaga County, local governments are trying to find the best strategy to deal with the invasive pests that will ultimately kill all the ash trees in the area. One of the county's biggest challenges lies in one of the busiest public green spaces in central New York, at Onondaga Lake Park.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The once heavily-polluted Onondaga Lake has a new environmental steward. The Environmental Protection Agency will fund the position for two years with a $200,000 grant.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The story of Onondaga Lake, once called the most polluted lake in the nation, will be told in a major interactive exhibit at the New York State Fair this year.

"We no longer have to look at it and be embarrassed, or discuss what we are going to do. Now we can look back at where we have been and where we are going," said Onondaga County Deputy Executive Matt Millea.

Central New Yorkers want a public park available to everyone along Onondaga Lake. That was the upshot from the latest survey on the future of what was once the most polluted lake in the nation.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Even though dredging and capping operations to clean up contamination in Onondaga Lake is in its early stages, a scientist consulting on the project says mercury levels are dropping better than expected.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

There's a new view of Onondaga Lake.  Honeywell has  opened a new Onondaga Lake Visitors Center, right next to the company's massive project that's dredging and capping two million cubic yards of contaminated lake soil. Honeywell hopes it can change perceptions of a lake, that for decades has been so dirty, people didn't want to go near it.

borisvolodnikov / Flickr

Before deciding what the Onondaga Lake shoreline should look like in the future, FOCUS, is looking  at what the community has wanted in the past. The community group that is creating  a roadmap for the future of the polluted lake's shore, has issued a preliminary report documenting 84 years of studies of the lake.

Sudipto Sarkar / Flickr

Onondaga County lawmakers are considering the possibility of a smoking ban in county parks and the perimeter of county facilities.  But an initial proposal from the county executive's office needs to be whittled down before lawmakers will agree to it.

Onondaga Lake cleanup underway

Aug 21, 2012
borisvolodnikov / Flickr

After 100 years of environmental assault, Onondaga Lake in Syracuse became known as the most polluted lake in America. But now the final stage of a cleanup is underway. 

America's 'Most Polluted' Lake Finally Comes Clean

Aug 1, 2012

Onondaga Lake in Syracuse, N.Y., has often been called the most polluted lake in America. It was hammered by a one-two punch: raw and partially treated sewage from the city and its suburbs, and a century's worth of industrial dumping. But now the final stage in a $1 billion cleanup is about to begin.

Standing in his office amid stacks of reports, scientist Steve Effler glances at an old front-page headline of the Syracuse Herald-Journal: "Divers find goo in Onondaga Lake."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The Onondaga Nation is not happy with the breadth of the Honeywell Corporation's plan to dredge and cap polluted sediment at the bottom of Onondaga Lake.

This $451 million plan will dredge an estimated two million cubic yards of toxic material from 185 acres out of the 3,000-acre lake bottom, and cap 14-percent of the lake bottom, to keep toxic chemicals underground.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

A major step in the clean up of Onondaga Lake is about to begin. Honeywell International will begin the dredging and capping of contaminated lake sediment this summer.