Canadaway Creek project kicks off Tuesday

After 15 years in the making, the village of Fredonia’s Canadaway Creek erosion abatement project to prevent sewage from entering waterways is finally starting on Tuesday.

A ground-breaking ceremony with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and area elected officials should take place at 10:30 a.m. on the south side of Route 5 near the Fredonia Wastewater Treatment Plant in the town of Dunkirk (or at the plant itself due to inclement weather).

Mayor Stephen Keefe explained the project should prevent a disastrous environmental situation in which erosion could force the village’s sewer main to be exposed and possibly collapse. That could subsequently send large amounts of sewage into Canadaway Creek near the pipeline, and potentially into Lake Erie.

“How long it will take (to complete the project) isn’t too long, but how long it’s taken feels like a lifetime,” Keefe added. “It started in 1999, and what happened originally was the path of Canadaway Creek was shifting … If that water still continues to erode in the direction it’s eroding, it’s going to hit our trunk line and then we’d be up a (sewage-ridden) creek with no paddles.”

Keefe explained the project involves digging a ditch and filling it with riprap and metal twine. The ditch will then get filled back in.

“Then, if the water changes course and gets to the point where it hits those rocks, the rocks will prevent any collapsing, stopping it from ever eroding … up to the pipe,” Keefe said.

Village Administrator Richard St. George, at a village board meeting last year, explained the erosion project will take place on village property near the County Home.

“This is a revetment project where they’re going to bury stones so that when the stream meanders toward the sewer pipe, it will keep the water in the bank and away from the pipe,” he said at the time.

Originally, the Army Corps of Engineers designed one plan which ended up having an environmental problem, according to Keefe. That plan had to be scrapped and a subsequent disagreement ensued over who should pay for the initial plan, with the Army Corps eventually conceding it should absorb the cost.

These factors, as well as an impasse over an easement to conduct the project on private property, contributed to the long wait for the erosion project to commence.

Trustee Joseph Cerrie was involved with the initial steps of the project, including securing a federal grant through U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins of about $1 million to cover the cost, which was estimated earlier this year at $919,400. Fredonia must contribute a local share of about one-third that amount to use the grant; the village board approved forwarding that money to the Army Corps in March.

“This (project) is good for the community and a protection of our sewer line and Canadaway Creek,” Cerrie said. “It’s always good that it’s coming under budget, as well. After more than a decade, it’s good to finally see shovels being put in the ground.”

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