Picente: Plan to Reclassify Waterways Jeopardizes Farming, Snowmobiling, Infrastructure
The state legislature is considering a plan to alter how some waterways are classified and local officials say would negatively impact farmers, 'cripple' area snowmobiling trails and create infrastructure and travel headaches. Governor Kathy Hochul vetoed the bill near the end of 2022, but it is once again circulating in committee this session.
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente is asking Governor Hochul to again veto the reclassification of certain streams and waterways (S01725), if it is approved by the full legislature.
Class C waterways would become protected streams, leaving design and approval decisions up to the state. The CE says the effort may be well intentioned, but will negatively impact the region's economy and travel.
In a letter the governor, Picente says 80% of local bridges and culverts are located within Class C streams, meaning necessary work to address infrastructure emergencies after a storm or flooding would face unnecessary delays and cost increases, under the legislation.
Sponsored by Environmental Committee Chairman, Senator Peter Harkcham (D, WF - 40th District), the bill would:
Small ponds or lakes with a surface area at mean low water level of 14 ten acres or less, located in the course of a stream, shall be consid- 15 ered a part of the stream and subject to regulation under this section.
Those 'burdensome' regulations would disrupt the use of streams by Central New York agriculture, "Oneida County's leading industry," Picente writes; adding it would also cripple snowmobiling as the region's snowmobiling trails crisscross the impacted streams.