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East Breakwall Is The Only Barrier Protecting Lake Ontario & Wayne County Community From Destructive Flood Waves; Deteriorating Sodus Bay Breakwall Has Cost Tens Of Millions In Damage To Homes, Businesses, & Beaches During Floods; Now, Schumer Is Pushing To Get This Long-Desired Project Started ASAP As Community Preps For Busiest Time Of The Year For The Local Economy

Schumer Has Led The Charge To Boost Lake Ontario Flood Protections, Securing The Biggest Fed Investment Ever In Sodus To Get The Project Underway, And Just Last Week Secured Senate Approval For A WNY Native, Robert Gioia, To Join The Important International Joint Commission With Canada For Great Lakes Oversight - Now With Army Corps Officially Moving Forward On Construction, Schumer Pushes To Get Shovels In The Ground ASAP To Protect Homes, Businesses And Tourism Industry

Schumer: It Is Time We Turn The Tide For Our Lake Ontario Homeowners & Businesses And Get Them The Flood Protections They Desperately Need

Standing at the Great Sodus Bay Harbor with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) members and Sodus Bay residents, marina and business owners, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today revealed that the Buffalo Army Corps will begin the major $20 million reconstruction of the deteriorating Sodus Bay East Breakwall this summer thanks to Schumer securing the $20 million last year, which is the single largest federal infrastructure investment every in Sodus Bay. Schumer said for years, Lake Ontario communities have been devastated by severe floods because the East breakwall, the only barrier protecting Lake Ontario homes and businesses from flooding, has fallen into disrepair. Schumer said today USACE has put out its solicitation bid to move ahead on hiring a contractor, the final stage in the process to repair the vital Great Sodus Bay breakwall and now he is pushing to get shovels to hit the ground ASAP to finally deliver these long-awaited repairs for the Lake Ontario community.

“The Great Sodus Bay East Breakwall is vital to protecting the Lake Ontario community from violent flood damages, but for years has been in a state of disrepair, threatening residents’ safety and livelihood. I’ve watched as community members have worried their entire homes or businesses would be flushed out by Lake Ontario as flood after flood devastated neighborhoods, local businesses, and families in the region. That’s why I said enough is enough and fought tooth and nail to secure the largest single federal infrastructure investment ever in Sodus Bay of $20 million to ensure the feds take action and repair this breakwall for good,” said Senator Schumer. “Today, we are turning a corner to hire the federal contractor and move full steam ahead and get shovels in the ground! With repairs set to start this summer, we are making sure Lake Ontario communities are protected from damaging flood waves and ensuring Sodus Bay homeowners, marinas, businesses, boaters, and visitors can benefit from all this beautiful Sodus Bay offers, all while boosting the local economy and creating a steady stream of jobs, jobs, jobs.”

Schumer has been leading the charge on this decades-long pursuit, and last year secured a record-setting $20 million for the USACE to complete project design and scoping. Thanks to this funding and Schumer’s advocacy, construction will soon be underway to protect the homes, businesses, and Lake Ontario communities that were devastated following the 2017-19 floods.

Schumer said, “This project is vital to not only strengthen the primary flood mitigation system on Lake Ontario, but with summer fast-approaching, a revitalized breakwall will boost the local economy and increase summer recreational tourism opportunities which are vital to Lake Ontario businesses’ and attract thousands of visitors each year.”

“Last year, I fought to deliver the record-setting $20 million investment to fix the aging Great Sodus Bay breakwall to kickstart repairs and now we can finally say: ready, set, start building! I vowed to see this project through to the end, and today, I can say a promise made is a promise kept as the community readies to embark on these much-needed upgrades. I am excited to see these repairs get underway and will always fight to protect the safety and tourist economy for Lake Ontario residents,” added Senator Schumer.

Don Riling, Board President of Save Our Sodus said, “We can’t thank Senator Schumer enough for his support of this critical project. Sodus Bay is a beautiful but fragile body of water. Save our Sodus is committed to preserving the ecology and shoreline resilience of Sodus Bay. Funding the repair of the East Breakwall is a huge step toward protecting this wonderful home and destination for generations to come.”

Dave McDowell, Mayor of the Village of Sodus Point said, “The Village of Sodus Point is excited that this project which we have advocated for many years is close to getting underway.  We are pleased that Senator Schumer has helped secure the necessary funding first for the design and now for the construction of the repair.  This break wall is a key component of the protection needed by the village during high wind storm events.  We appreciate the communication with the USACE as this process has moved forward and look forward to working with them during construction.”

Schumer explained the Sodus Bay East breakwall is vital to the entire Lake Ontario community, as the only buffer between Lake Ontario and the houses and businesses on Sodus Bay’s shores. Schumer said that currently the deteriorating breakwall looks like ‘swiss cheese,’ with multiple holes throughout that inhibit its ability to protect the Sodus Bay community from damaging Lake Ontario flood waves and the severe Nor’easter storms that often batter Sodus Bay causing shoreline damage and erosion to homes and business. Schumer said if this protection collapses during a big storm or flood, the entire community would be wiped out, with many residents already used to flooding scares. For instance, Tom Frank the longtime past owner of Captain Jack’s, a staple local bar and restaurant has experienced flood waters coming right up through the building’s floorboards.  The East Breakwall is vital to protect Sodus Bay which is home to more than six marinas and 1,000 slips available for rent. Recreational activities made possible by the Breakwall and the safe harbor it creates supports $24.7 million in annual economic output, 148 jobs, and $8.9 million in labor income to the nation.

The Army Corps today is now beginning the last phase of the project before construction, the bid solicitation process. This means an invitation will be issued today to qualifying contractors who are registered to work on government construction jobs. With the USACE bid package out, contractors will begin to produce bids, including, construction specifications, project requirements, contract type, project delivery method, and bonding & insurance requirements. Interested contractors submit proposals and the USACE anticipates selecting a contractor by June to begin construction as soon as August.  

Last year, Schumer secured a record-setting $20 million in federal funding, which enabled the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Buffalo District to complete project design and scoping of the east breakwall and now, the funding will be used to begin construction on the breakwall. Schumer said repairs will be made to the entire 1,653 ft length of the East breakwall which is severely degraded and damaged. New construction and repairs will take place on the lakeside of the breakwater, building on top of the original timber crib and concrete cap structure and returning the structure to its original height, with work expected to begin this summer and conclude by the fall of 2025.

According to the USACE, repairs are needed on deteriorated sections of the east breakwater to ensure that the channel, Sodus Bay, and shorelines are adequately protected.  Great Sodus Bay is a critical harbor of refuge and home to an auxiliary U.S. Coast Guard station.  It is also an economic engine for the region that is home to approximately 50 charter boats, five boat launches, and generates $24.7 million in total revenues to accommodations, restaurants, retail, boat repair, and other services and industries that support 148 jobs.  The repairs are necessary to ensure the harbor continues to provide positive job-creating economic benefits, safe navigation, and shoreline protection. 

Schumer also today discussed that Western New York Native and Lake Erie homeowner Robert Gioia, who Schumer recommended to President Biden to serve as one of three U.S. Commissioners on the US-Canadian International Joint Commission (IJC), was confirmed to the post by the U.S. Senate last Friday. 

Schumer said, “It’s critical to have a New Yorker like Robert Gioia as one of the three U.S. IJC Commissioners because the IJC’s decisions impact New Yorkers every day from Buffalo and Rochester to Sodus Bay and the North Country. Lake Ontario and Lake Erie are vital resources that provide drinking water to millions and drive commerce, economic development, tourism, recreation, and the ecological health of the region so it’s vital for an Upstate New Yorker to have a seat at the table.  It’s vital to safeguard the Great Lakes by advancing the IJC’s work from the current expedited review of Lake Ontario’s Plan 2014 regulations to protecting wetlands and shorelines from erosion, and so much more.”  

Schumer has a long history of fighting to protect Lake Ontario communities in the wake of the 2017-19 floods. In January 2023, Schumer delivered $20 million for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to finally make critical repairs to the Great Sodus Bay Harbor breakwall to protect the homes, businesses, and Lake Ontario communities that were devastated following the floods of 2017-19. He also secured $4.5 million in 2020 for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to finally repair and rebuild the battered Charles Point barrier beach break wall in 2021 to protect Great Sodus Bay and to safeguard homes on Charles Point bluff at risk of falling into Lake Ontario.  In 2017 and again in 2019 Schumer successfully called on the USACE to activate its Emergency Operations Center, allowing the USACE to assist New York State in response efforts and deploy technical assistance teams. Schumer also played a paramount role in securing aid for these communities in the wake of the flooding, including arranging for the USACE to deploy two expert federal mitigation teams to Lake Ontario communities to help address the flooding issues and successfully pushing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to issue a major disaster declaration, which enabled federal recovery and repair funding to flow to Jefferson, Niagara, Orleans, Oswego, St. Lawrence, Wayne, Cayuga, and Monroe Counties.