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Author Topic: Unsafe Embankment Dam Remediation is a Nationwide Issue not just Rochester, NY  (Read 66 times)

Doug K

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Since this Erie Canal Embankment Remediation Project started, I've been trying to understand why any group would stand in the way of Public Safety, like the Stop the Clear Cut Facebook Group (STCC) has decided to do fighting FOR the Trees that appeared to be slowly destroying these dams.

According to the NY Canal Corp (NYCC) & it's parent the New York Power Authority(NYPY), the issue with the large woody vegetation along the Erie Canal was two-fold, it was an obstacle to the proper inspection of the Embankment Dam (which hasn't been done in 75 years) and the Tree Roots are causing a slow decay of the Structural Integrity of these Earthen Flood Control Structures. All of this was supported by an extensive Engineering Inspection Report that showed many of the Erie Canal Embankments have reached the FEMA High to Very High Risk state... some needing immediate repair. The facts are clear, there is Engineering & Science backing up the claims...seems like a solid case.

So at this point you have to decide if you "believe the bad news" or brush off the words "Unsafe Embankment Dam". I was skeptical at first but DID my homework and found enough to convince me that neither NYCC or NYPA were lying about the problem or it's severity. They have made a very significant statement with their Embankment Remediation Project, simply stated: MANY Rochester Area neighborhoods are living below the water level of the Erie Canal and it's water Impounding Embankment Dam system AND are under THREAT of potential dam breach, possible flooding & subsequent loss of property & human life.

Worse yet, my wife & I live within 35 feet of one of those "Unsafe Dams"in our backyard in a house built before this version was ever thought of.

So I started to learn more about Dams, working to understand all aspects of the embankment problems and how unsafe dams get fixed. I also examined if perhaps NY State had "ultra-restrictive" Dam rules, which wouldn't be new for our state as many know. With a little research into what the Federal & State Guidelines are around the topic of Embankment Dams. It quickly became obvious that plenty of information was out there, much of it had become Federal Guides for States to follow and every state had pretty much adopted those Guidelines in their own endeavors to repair their aging Dams. I am placing links to show that the Rules in NY regarding Embankment Dams is the same one many of it's neighbors use.

First... here's a great read from the NY Times on Embankment Dams as America's Growing Problem

Here's a good explanation & summary of what FEMA says about Embankment Dams including some State Information on Compliance... from a 2007 USA Dam Symposium. It is a very good summary that supports the truth that NYCC/NYPA have to use for guidance in this project

Here's some links to a few state Dam Safety Rules pages that basically agree with FEMA's take on what makes dams unsafe and how to fix it.,4561,7-135-3313_3684_3723-9537--,00.html

Some states had PDF Files that listed their rules. I've included documents here to review... simply search for the word "tree" in any of these to see what the MAJORITY of states, and EXPERTS in the field think about having Trees Living on Embankment Dams

* Dam Safety Rule - WV.pdf (183.53 kB - downloaded 2 times.)

* Dam Safety Rules NH.pdf (40.28 kB - downloaded 2 times.)

* Dam Safety Rules NJ.pdf (221.87 kB - downloaded 2 times.)

Here's the punch line: FEMA, NYCC, NYPA say Large Woody Vegetation is NOT allowed on Impounding Embankment Dams and 50 States in our country believe these folks and apply those rules to their own flood control structure. No question that REMOVING large woodt vegetation (ie:Trees) is the BEST method to take in restoring structural integrity to Embankment Dams... and aid Inspectability.

So back to my original dilemma:
Why would anyone believe we can simply ignore these well established & universally adopted Dam rules?

Worse yet how could anyone with ZERO experience in the Embankment Dam Remediation field suggest creating "their own rules" for the Erie Canal issue? Is that the best answer to an Unsafe Dam in our community? It's hard enough to get a group of Rochester communities, ALL under the threat of potential catastrophic flooding, to agree an"unsafe Embankment Dam" Repair Project is about SAFETY. Does anyone think we will EVER agree on "new rules" that protect us better than those that already exist?

Meanwhile, while all this plays out our community is still left with many Unsafe Dams that are NOT being repaired...and getting worse.

There is nothing wrong with the FEMA Rules, but there is something wrong with the citizens in and around the Rochester area if they do not STAND for SAFETY. This isn't just about those along the Erie Canal, the Erie Canals Hazard Creep Zone has expanded greatly, increasing risk.

The heart of the STCC argument is they want to "Save the Trees".

Folks, wake up.. these are the SAME trees that drove Erie Canal's Earthen Embankments to their CURRENT unsafe status depicted in the Rizzo Inspection Report. The SAME trees that have prohibited PROPER INSPECTION of the Erie Canal for over 80 years, adding to the safety issues even more. The SAME trees that are a constant threat to those walking the Erie Canal Trail in the form of potential flooding or FALLING. It simply boggles the mind that a single group of people can't "See the Forest for the Trees". We've stated this before.. the Forest is SAFETY, a topic this group ALWAYS seems to ignore or casually dismiss public safety... it's totally irresponsible behavior, bordering on absurd.

Don't let a group's shortsightedness and lack of social responsibility put our communities in danger any longer, speak up for your safety NOW.

If you live on the East Side of Rochester and are worried about your own safety along the Erie Canal or the safety of your neighbors living below it here's some information on who to talk to.

Senator Rich Funke (Perinton), Chair of the Cultural Affairs, Tourism & Recreation committee, has sent a letter to the NY Power Authority asking for more public input to be heard.  We think it would be helpful if he took a more public role FOR SAFETY SAKE on this Embankment Repair Project, so calling him could help YOUR safety concerns be heard by those who can help.

(585) 223-1800  or

The MOST important decision anyone can make is about the SAFETY of their loved ones, Make your OWN decision wisely, before it costs you more than you ever expected. Get informed about the TRUTH of Erie Canals Embankment Remediation Project and how it matters to YOU.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2018, 01:45:29 pm by Doug K »

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