Weather delays Canaan Lake project
Canaan Lake is still in the process of drying out, but a new machine will help move the project forward.


Weather delays Canaan Lake project



The project to drain and repair Canaan Lake in North Patchogue has stalled, according to county Legis. Rob Calarco. Due to uncharacteristically poor weather, the project was delayed by several months. 

The manmade lake was drained a year ago after a culvert was installed under Traction Boulevard. The empty lake should have dried over the summer months to allow the top layer of sediment to be removed. However, the exceptionally wet weather prevented that process from taking place. Calarco said the second half of 2018 received 55 percent more rain in the area than typical for an entire year. There were also not many periods of dry weather as expected in late summer, which would have helped the drying process.

Now, to speed up the process, the county has sent out for a company with a large excavator that would have the ability to clear out a central path in the middle of the lake, making the water flow out faster and allowing the rest of the lake to dry completely. 

“I understand it’s very frustrating for the residents that live along the lake,” Calarco told the Advance Monday. 

Calarco said one of his biggest priorities for the project was to get it done right, rather than fast. He added that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation also held this view and was unlikely to issue another permit for a while, due to the sensitive nature of returning species to the lake once it is refilled.

The lake had to be drained and refilled because dredging requires an off-site location to dry out sediment and pay for it to be taken away. The more water in the sediment, the more it costs, as prices are set by weight. 

Calarco said the machine to create a better drying situation would arrive in several weeks, and then set up the lake to start drying more efficiently. The machine comes within the capital budget for the project, so it does not require additional funding. The machine, however, does not remove sediment, but merely creates a better situation for the main removal stage to take place. While the original timeline had the project completed by now, Calarco was unsure of a new expectation for an end date, but is hopeful that once the rainy spring is through, the conditions will be better to get the project moving. He added that the DEC does not have a set-in-stone deadline for the refilling of the lake. 

“We have to take it all as it comes,” Calarco said, adding that he appreciates the patience of the community. 

As reported previously in the Advance, over the past several decades the highly invasive cabomba weed and watermilfoil crowded out the lake’s native plant species, which has severely hampered the natural habitat and recreational uses of the lake. In an effort to restore the lake, the Canaan Lake Restoration Project was created. The next phase will be to remove 30,000 cubic yards of sediment.