Onondaga Lake

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Hundreds of protestors opposing a controversial Midwest oil pipeline marched through downtown Syracuse over the weekend. They walked six miles from the Onondaga Nation Arena to downtown Syracuse, carrying signs about protecting water sources.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Record-breaking rain along with regular sewage flow was to blame for a burst pipe that dumped millions of gallons of raw sewage into Onondaga Lake late last week.

The 42-inch pipe that broke carries sewage from the Ley Creek Pump Station to Onondaga County’s wastewater treatment plant on the southern shore of Onondaga Lake. According to county officials, the leak was at the top part of the underground pipe very near the railroad crossing of the Onondaga Creek Inlet.

There’s a roadmap now for any organization that wants to take on the task of connecting the broken portion of the statewide Erie Canalway Trail that centers on the Syracuse area. A 15- to 16-mile stretch between Camillus and DeWitt has always been one of the most problematic gaps for advocates trying to create a continuous 360-mile, multi-use trail that follows the historic Erie Canal. If the gap was connected, it would create the longest continuous intrastate multi-use trail in the nation.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

It may not be the original plan to turn Murphy’s Island over to the Onondaga Nation, but Onondaga County lawmakers have promised to turn over some other piece of land along Onondaga Lake to the nation.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Honeywell International has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the past few years dredging and capping Onondaga Lake to remove and contain toxic chemicals from decades of pollution. But documents submitted by Honeywell to the state Department of Environmental Conservation show that the caps holding back the toxic sediments in the lake have failed three times since 2012.

EPA Regional Director Judith Enck is calling central New York to take action when it comes to climate change.

Enck admits that taking on climate change is a big issue. But she says individuals shouldn't shy away from it.

“Sometimes climate change can be an overwhelming issue. You get paralyzed, you don’t know what’s the first thing you can do to address. But I actionably think there are no shortage of steps to take to reduce carbon pollution,” said Enck, in a recent interview with WRVO News.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Onondaga County's Lakeview Amphitheater comes to life tonight for the first time, when country star Miranda Lambert takes the stage. Many in the community hail the entertainment venue, along the shores of Onondaga Lake, as an economic engine for years to come. But there are still environmental concerns from one front, about the choice to build a stage on top of 80 feet of industrial waste beds. 

"We’re very concerned that we have lost a chance to clean up next to the lake,” said Joe Heath, who has been the attorney for the Onondaga Nation for more than three decades.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney announced on Tuesday that construction is now complete on the new Lakeview Amphitheater along Onondaga Lake. Country singer Miranda Lambert will be the opening act, scheduled to perform on September 3.

borisvolodnikov / Flickr

Onondaga County has the funds set aside that would create plans for a swimmable beach on Onondaga Lake.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney believes recent studies that have deemed parts of the lake is clean enough to swim in brings the reality of a beach closer.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency is reviewing the process of taking over the Roth Steel scrapyard along Onondaga Lake by eminent domain.

 

Ryan McMahon, chairman of the Onondaga County Legislature, asked the Industrial Development Agency to look into the procedure and says the IDA will do an environmental review of the property with potential public hearings.

 

Roth Steel, which closed the scrapyard in 2014, was recently sold to the Canadian-based company, American Iron & Metal.

 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Swimming in Onondaga Lake has been banned since 1940 but the commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Joe Martens, was among a group of local and state officials who jumped into the lake on Wednesday. The event was organized by the nonprofit Believe in Syracuse,  which highlights positive aspects of the city, to show that it is now safe enough to swim in the lake. The state DEC said low bacteria counts and high water clarity meet the standards for swimming. 

 

Doug Kerr / Flickr

Syracuse Common Councilors have gone on record opposing the idea of resurrecting a junk yard along the shores of Onondaga Lake, near Destiny USA and the Inner Harbor development.  But they are at odds with the mayor’s office over how to do it.

borisvolodnikov / Flickr

A report released this spring labels much of Onondaga Lake as swimmable, and Onondaga County officials say this report should be a springboard to further discussions about the future of the lake.  

The Upstate Freshwater Institute says the northern two-thirds of the lake, that was once called the most polluted in the country, is swimmable. Tom Rhoads, Onondaga County’s Water and Environment Protection Commissioner, says that doesn’t necessarily mean residents should grab their swimsuits and jump in.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO News

New signs along the Onondaga Creekwalk in Syracuse offer a glimpse into central New York’s history to walkers, bikers and joggers as they pass by. 

Onondaga Historical Association curator Dennis Connors helped pull together the stories that are told through the signage and videos that can be accessed through a QR code.

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.

A next step in Onondaga Lake restoration

Jul 21, 2014
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.

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