Author Topic: It's a Clear Case of "Dam Confusion" hindering Erie Canal Embankment Maintenance Plans  (Read 54 times)

Doug K

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The ECNA has pondered whether to post this information publicly, but we do have a good idea why the New York State Canal Corporation is having such a difficult time getting their Erie Canal Embankment clearing program off the ground,despite overwhelming evidence that it's to help the cause of public safety.

After all, they have stated that basically MANY New York residents are living in danger, near or under the threat of unsafe earthen embankments that make up 125 miles of their NYS Canal System.

They started a whole new program, dedicated to Canal Integrity, that still can't seem to convince some in the public, of the urgency to perform maintenance on unsafe, over-grown earthen dams.


https://www.nyscanalintegrity.org/

And we at the ECNA think this may be the issue... just a suspicion. Again, this is ONLY our OPINION...

New York State is going through another "dam identity" crisis... again. The State does NOT seem to agree (amongst the Government Agencies) on what constitutes a Hazardous Dam, which is all in the definition of course.


First, lets be clear... The NY State Department of Conservation is in control of the New York State Dam Registry... the OFFICIAL guide to what has been classified as a "dam" in our state, and those locations now come under the "redundant" safety verifications of the NYSDEC.

You can find the link to the NYS Dam Registry on the NYSDEC website:



https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/311.html

This link downloads a file, that shows all NYS Dams, that are on the state registry, with specifics on size, water capacity and hazard ratings. It works using Google Maps, and is a VERY powerful tool, allowing very detailed views of the areas that would be in Flood Inundation Zones



We counted the number of State Dam Registry "dams" that were on this NYS Official Map, and only those that can be associated with the Erie Canal System, and limited our search to only Monroe County.

We counted a total of 9 registered DAMS in the Erie Canal, that had been logged into this STATEWIDE system for Monroe County, All of the dams were made CEMENT and listed use was for NAVIGATION or Hydro Power generation. All but one of the were High Hazard and built in the early 20th century.

So it appears that a Dam can be built and used for "navigation purposes" and be listed in the NYS Dam Registry. That is what New Yorkers along the Erie Canal were told was the same use for these raised Earthen Canal Embankments... as "Navigation Dams"


But wait, there is another NYS map that shows Intermediate to High Hazard Dams. It is from the Office of the State Comptroller for NY State and was part of a Report of Findings that said NYS Residents are in DANGER from uninspected, improperly maintained dams.


http://wwe1.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/dams/dams.html



For those interested here's the NYS Office of the Comptroller's review of the current conditions with public safety and NY State Private and Publicly owned "dams".

https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2018/06/state-comptroller-dinapoli-360m-needed-repair-local-dams


As you can see that map above has only listed 3 Dams that are associated with State Ownership, and specifically the Erie Canal System,

Two dams at Guard Gate /Locks for the Canal and the Court Street Dam, that allowed the Genesee to be used as part of the Erie Canal in it's last rebuilding circa 1926.




And of course... there is a THIRD map, and maybe the one that is MOST IMPORTANT because it comes directly from the State Agency that OWNS the NYS Canal System, New York Power Authority or NYPA.

This map was part of a newly released website, dedicated to the clearing and maintenance of these "unsafe earthen embankments" or DAMS as the NYS Canal Corporation and NYPA have aptly stated.

These are earthen embankments that form the Erie Canal Channel and are DAMS as defined by New York State DEC Rules and Regs. They are not cement type structures, they are made of earth, rock, and supposed to be covered with grass.


https://www.nyscanalintegrity.org/program-and-maps



https://canals.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=42703bd1c0504a14933d2010ce739043

So how many "embankment dams" did the NYS Canal Corporation say they have in Monroe County in this third NYPA version of an Embankment Dam Registry, for the Erie Canal?

There are a whopping 41 identified Erie Canal Embankment Dams in Monroe County, according to the NYPA Canal Integrity Program, more than two-thirds of them have NOT been cleared of invasive vegetation that still prohibits proper inspection and maintenance today



And here is the water impoundment count along the Erie, by Monroe County Town:


Town of Sweden     13 Canal Embankment Dams (status - Cleared/Maintained)
Town of Ogden       11 Canal Embankment Dams (status - Uncleared/ not Maintained)
Gates/Greece          3 Canal Embankment Dams (status - Uncleared/ not Maintained)
Brighton/Henrietta   2 Canal Embankment Dams (status - Uncleared/ not Maintained)
Town of Pittsford      4 Canal Embankment Dams (status - Uncleared/ not Maintained)
Town of Perinton      8 Canal Embankment Dams (status - Uncleared/ not Maintained)


So of course there is only ONE QUESTION left to ask the State of New York, regarding it's Dam Safety Policy...

Which of these maps should the public believe is the right one... for Erie Canal Dam Safety?
« Last Edit: April 11, 2022, 10:15:44 am by Doug K »

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Doug K

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And for those living on the Eastern side of Monroe County:

The Google Map shown below should be a wakeup call to all residents of Henrietta, Pittsford, Brighton, and Perinton.

It shows the CURRENT list of Erie Canal Dams in your neighborhoods and also they are ALL High Hazard.. made of cement that is crumbling away... and have not been properly maintained in many years.




These NYS registered dams are NOT shown on the NYS Canal Integrity Embankment Map, and bring the total DAM COUNT of Hazardous Dams to 19, including those made of cement and those made of earth.

Why the alarm you ask?

Look at the maps, it's a total distance of 12-13 miles along the Erie Canal, and there are almost TWENTY High Hazard Dams along it.

Just about the entire surrounding area is under threat of unmaintained and uninspected dams, most are listed HIGH hazard, and the canal is elevated up to sixty feet above the rest of the Town in these sections 


Why wouldn't Erie Canal Neighbors be worried?

« Last Edit: February 21, 2022, 07:26:51 am by Doug K »

Doug K

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This is a good OPINION piece, from the ECNA,  as to why the we believe it's so hard for NYS to get their Erie Canal Integrity Program up & running. It's never really been about a protest movement, it has to do with ALL New York Agencies, being on the "same page" at the "same time".

The post contains lots of factual information regarding the issue of NYS Dam Safety, specifically in and around Rochester and the Erie Canal. And it is from a purely Engineering viewpoint that would assume this:

BEFORE rules can be set, on how best to deal with "high-hazard" earthen dams in your community, those fact-supported rules need to be AGREED upon by all who are responsible to provide the solutions.

Defining a public safety problem is one thing. Having all parties in agreement on definitions, boundaries and solutions to those public safety problems, is another. And in order to agree on the best solutions, the rules and definitions play a key role in framing what solution is needed, why it's required, and where each different solution is needed most.

And right now, the main agencies, looking at Navigation Dam Safety along the Erie Canal, don't seem to agree on those "definitions".


Scroll up to the top of this page to learn why...

And hopefully all this will be corrected as the Canal Integrity Program gains momentum once again
« Last Edit: April 11, 2022, 10:47:35 am by Doug K »