Ithaca is a boating destination. Because of its connection to the Erie Canal, an avid boater could sail from Ithaca to the Atlantic Ocean via the Saint Lawrence Seaway or to the Gulf of Mexico via Lake Erie and the Mississippi River.
The waterways affect the local economy in three primary ways; through flood protection, property tax revenues and tourism spending, particularly spending associated with recreational boating and water-dependent businesses. Property values in the waterfront are high; although nearly 97% of waterfront properties are tax exempt, annual tax revenues from the remaining 3% is over $2 million. Finally, water-dependent businesses generated over $2 million in sales (nearly $700,000 of which came from docking fees) in 2008. Revenues from facilities specializing in non-motorized boats are not included. The Inlet has four primary facilities catering to non-motorized boaters: Cornell University and Ithaca College Crew facilities, a business that rents and sells canoes and kayaks, and the Cascadilla Boat Club with approximately 175 members with annual membership and training fees of $60,000.
The current Flood Control Channel capacity is only 38% of the US Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) design dimensions, based on 2008 bathymetric Data - this estimate does not account for aquatic vegetation impeding flows. Sedimentation and a lack of maintenance in the Inlet have caused this loss of capacity. The ACOE recently failed the flood control channel as an effective structure. Hydrilla's ability to clog flood control structures and impede water flow will only exacerbate the current situation.
The value of the waterways is derived from their function as flood mitigation and their role as a navigable waterway. The economic vitality of the waterfront evolved based partially on a navigable waterway. An impairment that reduces the use, enjoyment or function of the waterway can be assumed to diminish its current and future economic value.
Above information is excerpted from:
Site Reconnaissance Report, Southern Tributaries to Cayuga Inlet Dredging Project, Ecologic LLC and City of Ithaca, June 2010. (4.52 MB pdf)
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement, for the City of Ithaca by Ecologic and T.G. Miller. 2011.
For a more general overview of the economic implications of hydrilla, click here.
Last updated January 11, 2021