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How local school kids help Onondaga Lake wildlife flourish

OBG’s Paul Schultz, PE, LEED AP joined Dereth Glance, Executive Director of the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency (OCRRA), to talk about the impact local businesses and students in Onondaga County are making on the environment by collecting their food scraps and turning them into nutrient-rich compost that benefits Onondaga Lake.

A 20-year undertaking, the cleanup of Onondaga Lake in Syracuse, NY is one of the largest, most complex remediation programs in the U.S. OBG has served as a strategic partner in this program focused on creating healthy, sustainable habitats that will benefit the lake’s ecosystems and neighboring communities.

With dredging, capping, and habitat restoration now complete, the program has resulted in the best lake water quality in more than 100 years and the return of wildlife. This effort was a success with the help of composting by OCRRA—a public benefit corporation that provides a comprehensive solid waste management system for Onondaga County.

OCRRA collects food scraps from local businesses and nearly 7,000 school children from 15 local schools and turns those scraps into compost for use in wetland construction (in addition to residential gardens, landscapes, green roofs). This is done through OCRRA’s aerated static pile compost system, which processes more than 9,000 tons of food scraps into 30,000 yards of compost each year.

The use of this compost for upland areas on the western shoreline of Onondaga Lake resulted in the successful establishment of vegetation and improved habitat diversity for birds and other wildlife. To date, about 90 acres of wetlands have been restored, and more than 1 million native plants, including those linked to the lake’s rich culture and history, have been planted. More than 250 wildlife species, some that have not been seen in decades, are now calling these areas home, and more than 120 unique bird species have been identified in the area.

Learn more in the presentation Paul and Dereth gave at the Environmental Breakfast Club of Central New York meeting on March 7, 2018 in Syracuse, NY.

How local school kids help Onondaga Lake wildlife flourish [PDF] 

About Paul Schultz: Paul is a senior project manager in OBG's environment business with expertise in environmental remediation and the design and construction of wastewater plants and facility upgrades. Over his 24-year career with OBG, Paul has managed projects for Fortune 500 industrial and pharmaceutical clients, including Honeywell and Bristol Myers Squibb. For Honeywell, Paul was the engineering manager for the design and construction of a sediment consolidation area (SCA) water treatment plant, which successfully treated dredge water during the Onondaga Lake restoration project. Paul can be reached at: Paul.Schultz@obg.com.

About Dereth Glance: Dereth is OCRRA’s Executive Director. She brings extensive knowledge of OCRRA to her position, having served on its board of directors for six years (2004-2010), including several years as the vice chair and recycling committee chair. She served as a U.S. Commissioner at the International Joint Commission charged with preventing and resolving disputes and promoting cooperation for the shared waters of the U.S. and Canada. Prior to that, she served as the Executive Program Director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, directing water, energy, and waste reduction programs for five regional offices in New York and Connecticut. She has served on New York State’s Great Lakes Basin Advisory Council, the Clean Water Network, and the Onondaga Lake Partnership Outreach Committee; she has also chaired the Onondaga Lake Bottom Citizen Participation Working Group. Dereth can be reached at: dglance@ocrra.org.



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