Picente announces creation of Oriskany Creek Basin commission

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UTICA — Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. announced Thursday the creation of the Oriskany Creek Basin Intermunicipal Commission to address long-term management and flood mitigation in the Oriskany Creek Watershed.

“We have seen how successful the Sauquoit Creek Commission has been in managing and solving flooding issues and are now emulating that model in the Oriskany Creek Basin,” Picente said. “I applaud the municipalities that have had the vision to establish this new commission, and I urge the rest in the creek basin to join us as we forge a new path forward. Oneida County continues to leave no stone unturned as we combat the flooding issues impacting our communities. These complicated problems can only be solved by working together.”

Currently, Oneida County has 13 municipalities that are within the Oriskany Creek Basin, five of which — the villages of Waterville, Oriskany and Clinton and the towns of Whitestown and Kirkland — have charted the commission. Other creek basin municipalities have attended preliminary commission meetings and expressed interest in becoming members. Municipalities can join at any time by passing a resolution and entering into an intermunicipal agreement with the commission.

As is the case with the Sauquoit Creek Basin Intermunicipal Commission, the Oriskany Creek Basin Intermunicipal Commission, is professionally staffed through the Oneida County Planning Department. The commission has its own bylaws and membership, sets its own rules and procedures and exists for facilitating cooperation among municipalities while addressing short and long-term solutions for flood mitigation and watershed management.

“This new commission adds to Picente’s aggressive strategy to combat flooding throughout the county,” said Planning Commissioner James Genovese. “That has included multi-million dollar investments in our flood mitigation program, the success of the Sauquoit Creek Basin Intermunicipal Commission and our strong partnerships with New York State and local municipalities that have led to the Whitestown Flood Restoration Project and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) buyout program inside Whitesboro.”

The Oriskany Creek Basin Intermunicipal Commission will focus on developing the following types of projects: flood plain restoration through the use of green infrastructure practices; storm water basins; wetland enhancements; bank stabilization and repairs; regular stream maintenance; hydraulic modeling; stream mapping; stream and flood data collection; enhanced public access points to the creek with potential observation decks; recreational trails, enhanced parks and recreation areas and greenways.

Whitestown Supervisor Shaun J. Kaleta said, “The Town of Whitestown launched the Sauquoit Creek Channel & Floodplain Restoration Program in 2016. Since then, and with great support from Oneida County, the Sauquoit Creek Basin Intermunicipal Commission and many federal and state partners, the program continues to proactively address flooding through various means, including the construction of floodplain benches and buyout of residential properties. Whitestown is eager to join fellow municipalities located in the Oriskany Creek watershed on the Oriskany Creek Basin Intermunicipal Commission and share its experience on flood mitigation to address flooding along the Oriskany Creek. Whitestown’s success with its efforts on the Sauquoit Creek prove a coordinated and collaborative approach on flood mitigation is not only needed, but works best. Everyone in a particular watershed truly is interconnected, and any project is a benefit to all. I am excited to take what we have learned and are doing in the Sauquoit Creek watershed to try to help those in the Oriskany Creek watershed.”

Kirkland Town Supervisor Robert Meelan said, “Partnering with the county and the municipalities in the Oriskany Creek basin is the best way to overcome the flooding issues that impact our communities. I look forward to the good things this commission will accomplish and the benefit it will bring to our residents.”

Clinton Mayor Elizabeth C. Tantillo said, “The Village of Clinton is grateful to be a participant in the Oriskany Creek Water Basin Commission. Planning and implementing projects to solve long-term issues, especially flooding, is a welcome opportunity.”  

Oriskany Mayor Clifford O’Connor Jr. said, “The creation of the Oriskany Creek Basin project is an excellent idea. The creek needs floodplain restoration, bank stabilization and repairs. If we model ourselves after the Sauquoit Creek Basin, it should be a very successful commission.” 

Waterville Mayor Ruben Ostrander said, “We’re excited to be a part of the Oriskany Creek Water Basin Commission and we thank Oneida County for leading the effort. The Village of Waterville has faced ongoing flooding issues that we have been working hard to resolve and we think that being a part of this commission will make a big difference. We look forward to working together with all of our partners.” 

About the Oriskany Creek Basin Intermunicipal Commission

The watershed covers two counties and 16 municipalities (13 in Oneida County). It is 30.6 miles long and covers 147 square miles. It is a low gradient and forested while draining into the Mohawk River Basin.

About Oneida County Flood Mitigation Efforts

The Sauquoit Creek Basin Intermunicipal Commission over the past 14 years has obtained over $37 million in projects. Oneida County Flood Mitigation Grant Program has funded 25 projects in 10 municipalities valued at approximately $12 million. The program has rightsized 23 culverts, replaced and rightsized 1.7 miles of storm sewer lines, built one new bridge, stabilized over 11,000 feet of banks and completed one drainage study resulting in $20 million NRCS buyout program.

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