Final step reached in the long-awaited restoration of Canaan Lake in North Patchogue


On Jan. 5, after over a decade of planning and construction, the sluice gate that had controlled water flow at Canaan Lake in North Patchogue was closed.

This was the final step of a long process in removing the aquatic invasive species variable leaf watermilfoil from the lake, which had once been a popular destination for locals and travelers alike.

Canaan was overrun by the invasive species — to the point where the body of water resembled more of a lawn than a lake. This prevented residents from using the lake for their usual water activities, like fishing and kayaking.

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Canaan Lake before the project’s completion. (file photo)

Suffolk Legislator Rob Calarco began working on this project before he was elected.

He says the whole process can be traced back to 2007, when research first began to find the best way to restore the lake’s devastated ecosystem.

“The project’s intent was to eradicate those invasive species that are harmful to the ecosystem of the lake,” Calarco said. “What we are now working at is a long-term solution, and we should not be seeing the plant life returning for a very long time.”

Calarco says that the original plan was to dredge the lake with its water in place.

But after seeing this method have a fair amount of difficulties at Upper Yaphank Lake, officials decided it would be better to drain Canaan Lake and scrape the invasive species out with heavy machinery.

The overall project was an extensive one and cost roughly $4 million.

But the end-game was reached.

Now the lake can be used and enjoyed once more.

In the future, Calarco is looking to see if an access point can be created off Woodside Avenue, the county road that runs along the north end of the lake, so that people outside of North Patchogue can easily access Canaan Lake without having to go through the residential neighborhoods surrounding it.

“It was very rewarding to finally have this project done,” Calarco said. “It’s great to be able to accomplish things for the community in which I live and get this project to fruition through all of the challenges.

“I’m sure the community is ready to get in there this year with a kayak or canoe or paddleboard and really enjoy it.” 

Top: Legislator Rob Calarco on Tuesday, Jan. 5, at 11 a.m., closing the sluice gate at Canaan Lake.

Taken from a screen shot of the embedded Facebook video above.

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