Author Topic: NYS Canal Corporation MUST clear Canal Embankments - Reason 1  (Read 338 times)

Doug K

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Many people have asked the question... "Why does the Canal Corporation have to clear the embankments?"

Here's the "short answer", it's the LAW.

If you are not aware of it, our NY State Senate has enacted Laws regarding the OWNERS's responsibility for Impounding Water Structures

That statement & law forces the NY Canal Corp, and it's parent, the New York Power Authority, (as Dam Owners) to insure that the Erie Canal and all it's appurtenant structures is kept safe for residents & neighbors... end of story. It's not up for debate, it's just the law.

Some around the Rochester area have been stating that this law doesn't apply to the Erie Canal. They state these embankments are NOT dams, or they say these embankment dams are NOT "unsafe" as the Canal Corporation has stated. These statements are contrary to what the OWNERS of the Dams have said... and are of NO VALUE to anyone...sadly they are mistaken and blind to a danger right in our own backyards.

This Erie Canal work has been in the plan since 2013 when the NY State Comptroller's Office recognized it as unsafe and stated that in a report published in 2014. You can find the NYS Comptroller website here -

We at the ECNA have already shown these safety issues & repair budget connections in a prior ECDNA Posts... they outline what Tom Dinapoli, our "watchdog" for NY State, has uncovered. In their infinite wisdom the State Comptroller also made sure the work could actually get done by setting up a budget in 2016 for the sum of $220 Million dollars for the repair, to be spent over 4 years from 2017-2021.

STATE REPORT on the Erie Canal's current state of Deterioration:

BUDGET ALLOWANCE for NYS Canal System Improvements:

And again in 2018 the State Comptroller released a report on the Issue of Unsafe Dams in New York State... this is a must read if anyone wants to understand the issue of Dam Safety in our area. I have captured the basics of the report in the pictures below.

If you notice the CONDITION levels for Dam Safety you will see there are FOUR... with the term Unsafe Dams right at the top of the list as the worst Dam Safety condition. That is the SAME word used by the Canal Corporation when describing the condition of their Canal Embankments... Unsafe Dams they also own & manage for us. You see the Dam Owner has given Constructive Notice to all in Rochester & NY State that signaled the safety issue....

Now they have NO CHOICE but to REPAIR these Unsafe Dams.

The NYS Dam Report goes on to describe what Owners of the Dams are required to do but also lists what Local Officials, like our Town & Village Leaders should be doing to help correct the issue caused by unsafe dams in our communities. It also states how Residents and Neighbors around these Dams can help remedy the safety issues found with impounding water structures in their communities.

Sadly these suggestions made in the State Comptroller's report for Local Officials & Residents were ignored. Especially east of Rochester where many people actually engaged in behaviors that were contrary to public safety, contrary to the published reports, and contrary to all logic & reason. Some of those people are actually Town Supervisor's & Leaders who were entrusted with putting the Public First and insuring they watched out for the safety of their Town Residents.

These Town Leaders & Residents actually fought AGAINST this Public Safety Work with a Court Injunction!

Many of you are no doubt asking this question...WHY would anyone would do something to fight against safety, to ignore the warnings, to leave their neighbors, constituents, friends & family living in danger from Unsafe Dams?

Weat the Erie Canal Neighbor's Association have been asking that same question for two years now, and still cannot find an answer.

If you live in an areas where Erie Canal Embankment safety work was stopped, leaving you living with Unsafe Dams in your Community or Neighborhood, perhaps you should visit your Town Hall and ask why they chose to fight against this NYS Public Safety Program.

Maybe you should ALSO rethink your membership in a Facebook group calling themselves Stop the Canal Clear-Cut, one of the most vocal advocates for denying Erie Canal Safety concerns and keeping neighborhoods in DANGER living under Unsafe Canal Embankments. This group, and it's Leadership has simply turned a blind eye to their neighbor's safety, they changed the discussion away from community safety, and left many of us living below these embankments in danger, and unable to escape.

Think hard about the choices you make....

Michael Caswell

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This article points out quite a few things that should be concerning to neighbors.

What really got my attention was the statement 'STRUCTURES IMPOUNDING WATERS'.  So many of those opposing the Canal Authority's work to make safe the Erie Canal, have railed against calling sections dams, have tried to call them 'Levees', and have even come up with thinking they were a 'special case deserving of a special name' as long as they weren't called DAMS. You see, if they were called 'dams' then they would fall under tons of legislation which required ALL vegetation to be removed from the slopes. Of course, that would have stopped them in their tracks.

According to this article, it doesn't seem to matter what you call them, because they IMPOUND WATERS. That should therefore be an end to it!