Community’s Vision of a Clean Onondaga Lake is Becoming a Reality

Lake dredging and capping completed

Honeywell has completed the dredging and capping of Onondaga Lake in Central New York using technical excellence and innovative approaches. The cleanup, together with Onondaga County upgrades at its wastewater treatment plant and the County’s Save the Rain program, has resulted in the best water quality in more than 100 years. More than 1 million native plants, trees, and shrubs are being planted, creating a thriving green corridor of wetlands, and more than 230 wildlife species call the area home.

“Onondaga Lake is becoming a source of pride and optimism for the community and an economic driver for the region thanks to the extraordinary efforts of state and federal regulators, Honeywell, Onondaga County, elected officials, educational institutions, and the community,” said Kate Adams, Honeywell Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “We are incredibly proud of the team that accomplished this successful project and grateful to the community for their support and engagement.”

On April 27, Kate delivered the keynote address at CenterState CEO’s 2017 Annual Meeting sharing her 14 years of experience leading the Honeywell team that is restoring Onondaga Lake.  

The result of more than two decades and millions of hours of intensive effort, the project was completed through an unwavering focus on sound science, technical excellence, community engagement, sustainable practices, and a commitment to health and safety. Habitat restoration, a major focus of the cleanup, continues into 2017, as does Honeywell’s commitment to encouraging community volunteers to become environmental stewards.  Honeywell is one of the parties responsible for the cleanup of Onondaga Lake pursuant to an agreement with New York State regulators.

Working under the supervision of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Honeywell worked with national and local experts, including the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse University, and Upstate Freshwater Institute. About 500 Central New York workers were an integral part of the cleanup, providing expertise, essential resources, dedication, and hard work.  

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"The completion of this project to revitalize Onondaga Lake marks a major milestone for Central New York that will improve the quality of life for residents, and opens up additional opportunities for tourism, outdoor recreation and economic development for the entire region," New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said. "This work will help ensure that the lake remains a clean, viable natural resource for generations to come."

“Onondaga Lake and its shores are undergoing major revitalization, helping return the lake to its former glory. A former source of shame, the lake is coming back as a source of pride for the community,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Water quality is improving, aquatic populations are rebounding, and people are experiencing the lake in ways that haven’t been possible in generations. In the past, Onondaga Lake was often called the most polluted lake in the nation, but today, it is the most resilient.”

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Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said, "This is a moment to celebrate Onondaga Lake and all of those committed to its restoration. Together, Governor Cuomo, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Honeywell and Onondaga County are helping restore Onondaga Lake and its shores for the benefit of generations to come."

The Central New York community’s vision and dialogue were a key part of this sustainable achievement.  In 2015, a symbolic lake swim drew hundreds of community members. Thousands of people attended the inaugural Onondaga Cup and Lakefest in July 2016, including Governor Andrew Cuomo.

In November 2015, Honeywell received Audubon New York’s Thomas W. Keesee, Jr. Conservation Award for its leadership in the cleanup, “one of the most ambitious environmental reclamation projects in the United States.”   

Syracuse

Victoria Streitfeld

Health, Safety & Environment

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