Erie Canal Neighbors Association

General Category => General ECNA Discussion & Information => Topic started by: Doug K on December 30, 2019, 04:02:25 pm

Title: Four Little Words - No Trees on Dams
Post by: Doug K on December 30, 2019, 04:02:25 pm
Sharing some final thoughts on the Erie Canal’s unsafe embankment tree issues we have been watching unfold for the past few years. In the end it comes down to facts & the simple truth, and what REAL experts have to say about trees, dams, & public safety.

There are those in the community that want to say the Erie Canal is fine, there is no safety issue with the banks, the trees along the banks are not hurting the embankment structure, and the NY Canal Corporation is just “fear-mongering”, just trying to spend tax-payer dollars taking trees away that provide shade & “oxygen”. These people are NOT Dam Engineers or Experts in the science of Hydrology, they are just people with strong opinions but no supporting evidence to substantiate their claims.

Some in our community say that the words Unsafe Canal Embankments matter, that is what the NY Canal Corporation Leadership has told many of the Canal Neighbors who live along the 335 mile waterway. Though we may not like some of the changes, safety of our property, our lives & our neighbors is paramount. We will work with the Canal Corporation to restore privacy some have lost using their suggested natural barrier screening, others may eventually need fences.

The New York State government’s reply was to create a NY Canal Corporation Earthen Embankment Integrity Program to address the Erie Canal safety. Those issues were first uncovered back in 2014 and are just getting fixed today. Quite a bit of time & money has gone into this embankment effort, an effort that is dedicated to the safety of the Public by repairing the current issues with the overgrown raised earthen dams that line the Erie Canal for some 125 miles. The biggest issue is still the inability to get proper Dam Safety Inspections performed due to the thick woody overgrowth on many raised earthen dams it owns.

Each mile of these uncleared earthen canal dams are a threat to the local community & the safety of the residents.
 
In addition the integrity of the waterway is also at risk… there is NO question about these two statement. It is at the heart of all discussion past, present & future with the Canal Corporation & it’s parent…the New York Power Authority.

The Final Word…

The NY Canal Corporation, Rizzo Engineering (company who conducted the last thorough canal inspection), The NY State Comptroller’s Office, and the Governor of the State of NY have ALL agreed that there is a definite safety issue on the Canal, and that the best way to fix the issue, and restore public safety, is to remove the large vegetation growing on these earthen dams, all 125 miles of them, eventually.

It will take so long to fix the embankment issues that the work can’t be defined as a single project anymore.. it has become a new PROGRAM being managed by the NY Canal Corp.+

In the end it comes down to four words folks… Earthen Dam Tree Failure.

[attachimg=1]

WHY THESE FOUR WORDS?

If there are no negative issues related to these four words together, the internet search should come up empty. If there is a list of websites that relates trees and dam failures then those pages or publications should be read to see if trees help or hurt on embankment dams.
 
If there are no facts supporting Earthen Dam failures being caused or created by trees then the search should come back with little to say about safety, or that trees are a problem on EARTHEN dams. Note the word safety is NOT in the original search so anything related to safety-trees-dams should be read as well.
 
If trees roots actually help to “strengthen” the earthen dams (as some have falsely stated) then there should be plenty to read on that subject as well. Many have made this claim as it relates to trees on a normal hillside, and tried to apply here, but trees on EARTHEN DAMS are a special case scenario as the four word search will reveal.

Now if TREES on earthen dams DO cause dam failures or safety issues then one would expect to find an endless list of articles, publications, and expert testimony supporting the statement that Trees on earth built dams are a SAFETY concern & create the potential for a flood. This is EXACTLY what you will find... many many articles stating over * over that trees are a safety issue on Earthen Dams, and how to best manage that problem.

Search those words yourself to find the truth, the results will make you reconsider who you listen to about Erie Canal Embankment Safety in the future. Some have it completely wrong, like the Facebook group Stop the Canal Clear Cut. Some like the NYCC & ECNA are on target.

There are a quite few Publications & Documents that get highlighted with this simple FOUR WORD SEARCH…try it.

https://www.carolinafirejournal.com/Articles/Article-Detail/ArticleId/6402/Earthen-Dams

https://damfailures.org/lessons-learned/uncontrolled-vegetation-on-and-around-dams-can-hinder-inspection-and-lead-to-serious-structural-damage-significant-maintenance-costs-and-possible-failure/

https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/67062.html

https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/may15/052615.htm

What REAL Dam Experts & Engineers are saying:

Here’s a nice white paper by a past leading expert in Dam Safety, Bruce Tschantz, search his name as well to verify credentials as an expert.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1RWdyoNHNeSuXFI3Nq5uCmWn9t4Q-xjbG

I have taken the highlights of his work to a single picture so you can understand what just about EVERY expert on Dam Engineering & Safety knows: Trees have no place on Earthen Dams.

[attachimg=2]

I also found Summary of Dam Safety policies from many states, they all seem to be summed up with this picture of what causes most Earthen Embankment Dam Failures. By the way, ALL THREE of these issues have already been inspected and found along the NYS Canalway in our area.

[attachimg=3]

As you can by this simple internet search on dams failures & trees  there is overwhelming evidence that large trees & brush on earthen dams not only inhibit proper dam inspections but also create an environment where animals can burrow and tree roots can cause seeping which both lead to breaches & floods. Most of the search results lead to FEMA, The Army Engineer Corp, or some other National or State Dam Safety group that all seem to agree that Trees & Dams do not make “good neighbors”.

Here’s a list that covers just about all aspects of the perils of woody vegetation covering earthen dams. This was from a New Hampshire publication but just about every other publication I’ve read has a similar list.

[attachimg=4]

The only safe vegetative covering for Earthen Embankment Dams is plain old grass.

It is that simple…yet many “non-experts” just don’t want to believe it or accept this truth. Earthen Dams are ONLY safe if they are covered with green grass. I for one can’t understand why it’s so hard to understand this… you only need to search for “earthen dam tree failure”.

Here’s a few other Documents that cover the topic of Earthen Dams & Proper Vegetation…many have pictures showing unsafe earthen dams. Worth a look if you are interested in finding the truth about canal embankments, danger trees or even the truth about a group calling themselves Stop the Canal Clear Cut. Go search these words yourself and let others know the truth once you see it for yourself.


FEMA
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1RchsL5HWh7XD5DqMzv1n3_Py4c8m-8eK

US Army Corps of Engineers
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ksMs8ehnTu0fCJpZMIf8HWdtG9WIfWGU

US Bureau of Reclamation
https://ecna.createaforum.com/links-to-documents/three-documents-explain-the-entire-canal-embankment-program/

Enough said about Trees on Earthen Dams being a safety issue, if you can't understand it by now then you probably never will.
Title: Four Little Words - No Trees on Dams
Post by: Doug K on November 17, 2021, 12:47:15 pm
It's only 4 words.. No Trees On Dams.

And those words are supported by EVERY Federal agency that has to deal with Emergencies & Floods that are the result of failing dams that inundate US communities.

From FEMA, the the US Army Corps of Engineers, even to the US Congress that has passed Dam Safety Legislation to insure citizens are safe from devastating floods in a country with 10s of thousands of aging dam systems. And all but one State in the United States of America has some sort of Dam Safety Guidelines, Rules or Regulations, that directs Dam Owners to insure their water impounding structures are inspected on a regular basis and maintained according to approved standards for the type of dam it is, earthen, cement, rock-filled... the list goes on.

And if you look at those state regulations you will see a theme... that is centered on Four Little Words:


No Trees on Dams


So lets take a look at what some of those other states, including New York State, say about how dams should be maintained, and what if any role, "trees" should play.

Here's maybe one of the best we found that sums up almost all others in our Country...from Virginia


[attachimg=1]
https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/dam-safety-and-floodplains/dsveget


And of course the leading authority on Dam Safety is the ASDSO, Association of State Dam Safety Officials. Here's a great article by one of their lead contributors on the subject. The ECNA has had discussions with this author and he agrees with those four little words... "No Trees on Dams"


[attachimg=2]
https://damfailures.org/lessons-learned/uncontrolled-vegetation-on-and-around-dams-can-hinder-inspection-and-lead-to-serious-structural-damage-significant-maintenance-costs-and-possible-failure/


And here's more from the ASDSO and the State of New York, who's very specific on Trees near Dams.


[attachimg=3]
https://damsafety.org/
https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/4991.html


So you see the theme here?

These states (and the ASDSO) all agree that universally having trees on dams, especially EARTHEN dams, will cause more issues, weaken the dam, and promote a seeps & breaches. Trees will cause more impoundment harm and obscure critical earthen dam structural issues, than providing benefits that could come from having trees grow where they shouldn't be... on a Dam.

Let's take a look at what a couple more States say aboutNo Trees on Dams, Nebraska & Massachusetts.



[attachimg=4]
https://dnr.nebraska.gov/dam-safety/trees
https://www.mass.gov/service-details/policy-on-trees-on-dams



Many states actually send out Dam Safety Newsletters, to insure that LOCAL dam owners, including municipalities, understand the State directives on Dam Safety in their State. Many times these come from the DEC for that state, other times it's from a dedicated State Dam Safety resource or group.

Here's a couple from Wisconsin & New Jersey, that say the same thing... No Trees on Dams.



[attachimg=5]
https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Dams/documents/FSVegetation.pdf
https://www.state.nj.us/dep/damsafety/docs/newsletter-spring-2018.pdf



So... why do I bring this all up you ask?

The New York State Canal Corporation has made the SAME statement... No Trees on Dams.

They have created an entire Embankment Integrity PROGRAM to deal with the issue of public safety, in and around the NYS Canal System. They have cleared many miles of unsafe dams on the western and eastern ends of the Canal System already, still more than 100 miles left to rehabilitate. You can read about that here:
https://www.nyscanalintegrity.org/


The NYS Canal Corporation is the OWNER of over 125 miles of earthen embankment dams, that line the edges of the Erie Canal system. These are water impounding embankments that the owners say are unsafe, because trees were allowed to grow where MOST STATES would not allow them to... on Earthen Dams.

They, the NYS Canal Corporation, have a sound & reasonable plan to fix their dam safety issues, but some local "grassroots" group has built a campaign of misinformation & deception to stop this public safety effort along the Erie. Sadly, those statement about the danger of trees on dams are not being accepted by even more people in New York State as a result. In fact, this group is on Facebook (of course) and are in complete "denial" about the safety issues cause by trees growing on dams... they think shade is more important than safety.

Specifically this is a small contingent of people who believe that "Erie Canal Dams don't need to follow NYS Dam Safety Rules"... just because they "say so", no experts, no supporting data. They don't believe it will "look good" after the danger trees are removed. And most do not even believe that these embankments are actually earthen dams at all.

Worse yet, this Facebook group is located in an Erie Canal town, in perhaps one of the most dangerous areas of any canal community... Perinton NY.

There are 8 square miles of Perinton, mostly on the westside, that is at an elevation of 415-420' above sea level.

The Erie Canal, which is almost entirely built on raised earthen embankment dams in Perinton, meanders through this Town at 463' above sea level.

You do the math... it's a recipe for a catastrophe.

And when that disaster happens, because the dam owners have said it is a real possibility, we can all blame Facebook... for not policing their problems with rampant misinformation.

AND Erie Canal Neighbors caught in the mudslide & flood, well they can also blame the Citizens of Perinton, for allowing Facebook and a few "idealistic" residents to decide the fate of those who drowned in an Erie Canal Flood.... cause by an embankment that broke... because someone didn't heed the those four little words...


No Trees on Dams!!!


Go read more about this Facebook group here:

https://ecna.createaforum.com/the-stop-the-clearcut-argument/big-misconception-of-clear-cutting-by-the-public-stcc/

https://ecna.createaforum.com/the-stop-the-clearcut-argument/facebook-group-founder-does-not-like-the-new-canal-integrity-website/

https://ecna.createaforum.com/the-stop-the-clearcut-argument/stop-the-canal-clear-cut-just-another-facebook-group-with-a-questionable-message/

Title: Re: Four Little Words - No Trees on Dams
Post by: Michael Caswell on November 19, 2021, 11:54:51 am
Here are a few more who say NO Trees On A Dam!

https://eriecanalfacts.wordpress.com/2018/01/25/who-else-thinks-trees-should-not-be-allowed-on-earthen-embankment-dams/

They can't ALL be wrong, can they!