10.30.06

Schumer Visits Oswegatchie River & Discusses New Federal Funds He Helped Obtain To Fix Collapsed Retaining Wall

Oswegatchie River has swelled due to high amount of Spring rain causing retaining wall to collapse and possible damage to state Rt. 812 bridge; Bridge contains sewer, natural gas and water lines Schumer and Rep. McHugh pushed USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service to approve St. Lawrence County application for Emergency Watershed Protection Program; Over $56,000 is now headed to

US Senator Charles E. Schumer today visited the Oswegatchie River to see firsthand the collapsed retaining wall that he helped obtain federal funds to repair. Part of the retaining wall has fallen into the river and the wall threatens to damage the state Route 812 bridge. Schumer and Rep. McHugh spent the last two weeks successfully urging the US Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDANRCS) State Conservationist Joseph DelVecchio to approve St. Lawrence County's application for over $56,000 in Emergency Watershed Protection funding that will go towards repairing the retaining wall.

"If ever there were a case that merited emergency federal help, this is it," Schumer said. "If the Oswegatchie River isn't contained it will continue to bring down walls and buildings and endanger St. Lawrence County residents. When you have a major bridge in danger of collapsing and cutting off transportation between two towns, I'd call that an emergency. We fought tooth and nail to get federal funds so we could prevent the collapsed wall from falling into the river, and Im glad our efforts paid off."

The Oswegatchie River has swelled due to a high amount of Spring rain near the Village of Heuvelton and the town of Oswegatchie. A retaining wall has collapsed and part of it has fallen into the river. Local officials are worried that the river could continue to erode the land and damage the Rt 812 bridge that is only 50 feet away, connects the town and the village and is a major artery of the North Country. Water is now able to get behind the bridge abutment and the loss of this bridge would create very serious consequences since it also contains sewer, natural gas and water lines.

Over the last two weeks, Schumer worked hard to push the US Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDANRCS) to approve St. Lawrence County's application for Emergency Watershed Protection. The town applied two weeks ago for emergency funding through the program, which provides 75% of the funding needed to complete the project and requires a 25% local match. The requested amount of $56,250 will be given to the community, and matching funds ($18,750 or 25% of the $75,000 needed) will be addressed by the County. Schumer said that there will be a quick fix spent on rock to stabilize the wall until the Spring rains subside and runoff decreases. The remainder of the money will then be spent later to provide permanent repairs, likely in the late Spring. Joseph DelVecchio, State Conservationist, USDANRCS; Village of Heuvelton Mayor Barbara A. Lashua; Town of Oswegatchie Supervisor Alfred Nichols; St. Lawrence County Legislator Tom Nichols; and St. Lawrence County Legislature Chairman Alex MacKinnon joined Schumer at the event.



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