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EPA grant funds Onondaga Lake's new environmental steward

Ellen Abbott

The once heavily-polluted Onondaga Lake has a new environmental steward. The Environmental Protection Agency will fund the position for two years with a $200,000 grant.

Amy Clinkhammer began the job of Onondaga Watershed Coordinator this week. She previously worked at the environmentally focused Center of Excellence in Syracuse.

The EPA's Judith Enck says Clinkhammer will help coordinate the many projects underway at the Superfund cleanup site.

"She's going to be listening to the public, making sure that this is a comprehensive effort to get measurable improvements in water quality," Enck said. "That is what we are after here."

Enck also says it will be Clinkhammer's job to develop future strategies for the lake.

"We need to listen to the community, we need to make more investments in green infrastructure, we've got to monitor what's working and what's not working," Enck said. "We've got to look at other issues besides sewage. We've got to look at habitat protection."

Onondaga Lake has been undergoing a lengthy cleanup process after years of contamination from industrial operations on the lake's shores in the mid-20th century.

The EPA also awarded a $60,000 grant to train young adults in Syracuse to do green infrastructure projects.