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Meeting held on Springville Dam proposed project

The Springville Dam, located on the Cattaraugus Creek, might be getting some work done with a proposed project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to connect the upper and lower watersheds for fish.
SPRINGVILLE—The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District held a public information meeting Wednesday, June 25, in which the preferred plan and schedule were discussed for the Springville Dam fish passage study.

As it sits, the Springville Dam, located on the Cattaraugus Creek, is causing problems with fish spawning, invasive species and sediment buildup, and the Army Corps of Engineers has been working on a plan to fix those problems.

The main goal of this project is to connect the upper and lower Cattaraugus Creek watersheds that the dam has blocked. Many fish are currently limited to lower quality spawning habitats downstream and this project would allow these fish to gain access to the higher quality habitats upstream of the dam.

The proposed plan is to lower the dam spillway to 10 feet so that it still creates a barrier for the sea lamprey from moving downstream. There will also be a fish ramp installed so fish are able to move to the upper watershed and to connect the ecosystems the dam blocked in the past. A sea lamprey trap will also be installed at the dam so they can be removed before they harm the fish.

Even though they have a plan together, there is still plenty to be done before any dam work can start.

One of the most important parts of this project that can affect everything is the funding. Total cost for this project is estimated to be around $6.6 million with money coming from both the federal government and non-federal sources like the New York State Department for Environmental Conservation and Erie County.

“If either parties don’t get the funding that they expect to get, then this project gets put on hold until funding becomes available,” said Project Manager Geoffrey Hintz.

There are also many other people and groups involved that are affected by this project and their interests and concerns are all brought into consideration. The State Historic Preservation must give clearance to everything done to the dam because it is a registered historic property. Also, the Seneca Indian Nation, rafting companies, various fishing organizations and residents who live on the creek all must have their voices heard on the project.

“It’s not straightforward,” said Hintz. “We have a lot of people and we have to address their concerns and comments and that takes time.”

The project is currently in the feasibility study stage and is continuing to finish up all studies and work with all the necessary people. If everything continues without a hitch, this phase should be done by October 2014. Then, USACE must work with the DEC and Erie County on contract requirements and that should be done by March 2015. If the funding comes in to place, they will go into the design and engineering stage and eventually award a construction contract by around July 2016. If everything goes as planned, the dam project should be done by December 2016.

Now until July 11, people may voice their formal comments on the project by sending an email to springville.dam@usace.army.mil or filling out the below form and sending to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, ATTN: Environmental Analysis Team, 1776 Niagara Street, Buffalo, NY 14207-3199.

For more information on the project, visit www.lrb.usace.army.mil.

At the Concord Town Hall, June 25, 2014, The Corps of Engineers called a general meeting to discuss the future of the Springville Dam. Very few people attended the meeting. Therefore, this form letter is being presented so that you may have the opportunity to voice your opinion.

The Springville Dam is old and it needs some restoration to improve the physical condition of the Dam. Several subjects were also discussed such as the cost of this project, who will be paying for it, the invasive species problem and the effect on inland trout and their habitat. The major discussion was centered on four different propositions.

Please check the one you think is the best

___Restore the physical condition of the dam and install a fish ladder. Total cost: $7 million

___Restore the physical conditions only. Total cost: undetermined

___Remove the dam. Total cost: undetermined

___Allow nature to take its course. Total cost: none,

Comments:

Name:________________________________________

Address:______________________________________

Phone:____________________

Email:_____________________

Please return this to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by July 11. Attn: Environmental Analysis Team 1776 Niagara Street, Buffalo, N.Y., 14207
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