Author Topic: Is it a Levee or a dam? The STCC dilemna  (Read 130 times)

Michael Caswell

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Is it a Levee or a dam? The STCC dilemna
« on: November 24, 2018, 05:27:03 am »
Posted on the STCC site recently -

CT Oakes.  When they use plans based on a earthen dam and not on what the canal banks are which is a levee they have not done the proper studies. The US Army Corp of Engineers report had NO science based research. There is a science based study that was done in California on Vegetation Management of Levees that states that trees improve the stability of the levees.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/374651252977621/?ref=br_tf

According to the STCC EXPERT WITNESS Donald H Gray, here is the definition of the difference between an earthen embankment Dam and a Levee. (Yes, folks, he's the guy that submitted a testimony thinking this DAM was a natural wooded slope!). When I pointed out that he had been misinformed, and had written his testimony thinking the embankment was a levee, he sought legal advice. It was quite obvious he had not been given all the facts, and certainly had not visited the site. He also wrote the California study on Levees!

https://eriecanalfacts.wordpress.com/2018/04/19/testimony-in-question-vegetation-on-dams/

Dr Gray explains the difference quite clearly  - and goes on to say -

I don’t know of any earth dams where woody vegetation was purposely planted or allowed to grow on a face of the dam.  Such is not the case with earthen levees where vegetation can often be found growing on both the landward and water sides.

So, why is this so hard for the STCC to understand?

See this video for more information on the difference between a dam and a levee.
https://moonrakers.com/NYPAMovie.mp4
« Last Edit: November 24, 2018, 06:03:02 am by Michael Caswell »

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Doug K

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Re: Is it a Levee or a dam? The STCC dilemna
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2018, 09:35:50 am »
Mike, and all reading this post,

Seems they are dredging up this same old argument again just proves how mis-guided these STCC folks have become. Perhaps this statement made by Mr. Oakes sums up how blinded they all have become... does this group really believe this statement to be true?

CT Oakes said: "The US Army Corp of Engineers report had NO science based research."

Really, NO scientific research?

So one of the most WELL KNOWN groups of Engineers in our Country, a group who's providing ENGINEERED SOLUTIONS all across the United States of America, is just "guessing" at how to do their jobs? That is so far from the truth it's mind-boggling anyone would say something like this. let alone in a public space that is talking about FLOOD SAFETY & PREVENTION projects.

Seems like the STCC and it's Leadership is nothing more than the "Blind leading the Blind"

The TRUTH of the matter is quite different from what this CT Oakes author has stated. I'm equally sure that ABSOLUTELY NO ONE from the STCC group took the time to fully understand what "really" went on in California that warranted a "test program" for Levee Maintenance. The decision to study if Levees "could" be left with more than just vegetative grass covering was purely FINANCIAL, there was NO reasons linked to SAFETY, it was all done to decrease the Cost of Compliance to well known, well established Flood Control Regulations & Standards.

Just the sheer fact that this STCC supporter even believes issues in California with Levees and New York's Erie Canal Embankment Dams are even "related problems" is preposterous. Levees are NOT Dams, and Dams are what make up the raised sides along the Erie Canal. The Erie Canal is far from a natural waterway for MOST of it's 339 miles as most people should understand...the Erie Canal was BUILT by Men...  not Nature. Still the STCC "bends" the truth as needed... always.

Worse yet, it appears some in the STCC are carrying on this levee/dam charade for some very selfish, self-serving  reasons, caring little for the possible consequences of their actions.

Here's the reasons and history behind the Levee Test Program:
1) California has many many rivers, streams & smaller NATURAL waterways they use for irrigation of their Farming Industry. These streams cross many PRIVATE lands owned by these massive farms and most have Levees ADDED to the sides of the natural waterways to prevent flooding in the "rainy seasons" of California. These levees have also played a role in the farm irrigation system in most California Farms

2) The main Government agencies that regulate Dams & Levees, like the Dept of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Federal Emergency Management (FEMA), AND the Army Engineer Corps (ACE) realized that most farms in California were NOT staying in compliance for Maintaining their Flood Control Structures (levees are included here) to the USA Standards setup.. which is a Vegetation Free Zone on ALL surfaces of these Levees & Embankments from Water to the bottom Toe. They told the farmers to comply or LOSE Govt. Farm Support money they depended on to operate and clear a profit.

3) California farmers were faced with LOSING their Government Support Money if they did NOT start bringing their levees into compliance to SCIENTIFIC BASED Flood Structure Standards was a wake-up call. Many larger farmers stated that the COST of Levee Compliance would "break them" financially, putting the USA in a food shortage, and forced all parties to the table to see if other solutions could be created to test out and make Farmers happy while insuring the Government Standards were maintained  if possible. There was zero issue with SAFETY in California when they started this test program... again ONLY on a selected group of levees.

4)A group of Farmers, Scientist & Engineers, yes even from the ACE, sat down and formed some POSSIBLE "new standards" for Levee Maintenance that are STILL being tested today.. on LEVEES. This new levee standard does NOT apply to California Earthen Embankment Dams, only Levees. And in many cases these farmers STILL had to clean off levees on those River & Streams that were chronic "bad actors" for flooding local areas... again based on the SCIENCE around Flood Control Structures.

CONCLUSION:
It's pretty simple...The California issue is about Levees & MONEY.. the NY Erie Canal Issues is about Embankment Dams & SAFETY.

Of course there is a group in Rochester that STILL cannot figure out which is which, even with all of the Science out there that clearly defines it. Even the EXPERT levee witness, who is quoted over and over by the Stop the Clear Cut Group, Dr. Donald Gray, has stated that the Erie Canal Embankments fit the Description of an Embankment Dam.. they should NOT be considered Levees. In fact some from the Erie Canal Neighbor's Association have discussed this with Dr. Gray and that is what caused him to "recant" his support for this STCC nonsense.

Where's the Truth?
Seems very strange when you read through the postings on the STCC Webpage and watch these folks use the word Levee when it suits them to create a distraction for the truth, AND they ALSO will use the word Embankment Dam when they want to criticize the ongoing & upcoming Project work along the Erie Canal, like restoring the Embankment profiles and repair the Dam's Toe of Slope Drainage system.

Seems the STCC groups states the Erie Canal has Embankment Dams when they want to CRITICIZE the work and then use the word Levee when they chose to DENY the TRUTH ENTIRELY.... take a look and judge for yourself.

Honesty has NEVER been the "best policy" with those trying to STAND IN THE WAY of this Erie Canal Safety Project...like the STCC. This most recent post by Author CT Oakes isn't that surprising when you consider the way this STCC group has conducted itself throughout this whole project.

"Truth in Advertising" is not a strong suit of the Stop the Clear Cut Opposition Group who's content to FIGHT a SAFETY project that is meant to HELP our communities, if you think this is a lie..simply compare what you see on the ECNA site and what you get with STCC on Facebook
« Last Edit: November 24, 2018, 09:38:24 am by Doug K »

Doug K

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Re: Is it a Levee or a dam? The STCC dilemna
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2018, 06:50:41 pm »
Mike, l Just out... the Erie Canal is NOW a Natural Stream and the banks are Natural Stream Banks; just ask the newest "expert" Mr Rosgen of Colorado who has recently been contacted for support by the STCC.

Mr. Rosgen who owns a business that supports Rivers & Streams... NOT Embankment Dam Restoration by the way...  https://wildlandhydrology.com/

« Last Edit: November 28, 2018, 09:10:46 am by Michael Caswell »

Doug K

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Michael Caswell

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Re: Is it a Levee or a dam?
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2018, 07:39:06 am »
What exactly constitutes a dam?  Why should the canal's raised embankments be called a dam?

Some are trying to class the Great Embankment as a levee, but according to experts Dr D H Gray and Dr D Rosgen a levee is not subject to hydro-static pressure, whereas the Great Embankment is. It has a phreatic line and is subject to seepage and has numerous continual leaks. So, it's not a levee! But what is it? some say it's 'special' and needs it's own category or classification, because it's unique. The truth is, they don't want it called a DAM because there are strict rules made by FEMA, ASDSO, NYDEC and a host of others, who all denounce large vegetation on dams.

The Great Embankment is build exactly like an earthen embankment dam (EED). 
It has Rip-rap to protect it's inboard side from wave action.
It has negligible lateral current flow.
It has spillways, toe drains, constant hydro-static pressure, a phreatic line.
It's construction is exactly the same as an EED. 
It is constantly under load from a large volume of water, unlike a levee, which is under load only for short duration, seldom long enough saturating soil to create a phreatic line.

This should answer these questions.

Quote from Dr Donald H Gray (Professor University of Ohio)

"Earth dams and levees are both constructed embankments. They differ mainly in their purpose and type of hydraulic loading.   Earth dams are constructed across a stream or river to create an impoundment.  The impoundment provides water storage, flood control, and recreational opportunities.  An earthen levee is constructed parallel to a river or stream to prevent flooding of adjacent low-lying areas during periods of high water.  An earthen levee is subjected mainly to tangential-hydraulic forces (scour) whereas a dam is subjected to dynamic hydraulic forces (wave action).

I don’t know of any earth dams where woody vegetation was purposely planted or allowed to grow on a face of the dam.  Such is not the case with earthen levees where vegetation can often be found growing on both the landward and water sides.
 An earthen dam is designed and built to prevent overtopping and minimize through-flow (seepage).   Overtopping of an earth dam is prevented by building the dam high enough.   By comparison earthen levees have been built mainly to withstand breaching that can occur during overtopping, through-flow and lateral scour.  The presence of vegetation on a levee helps prevent erosion that can occur during overtopping and lateral scour. "

According to Dr Gray,  The Erie Canal Embankments are not Levees, but Earthen Embankment dams. The body of water, once called Oxbow Lake, behind the dam is a reservoir, not subject to ‘scouring’ as there is no lateral flow, and it is constructed across the flow of the stream flowing at The Oxbow.

So, according to Dr. Gray, he states that our canal embankments are indeed dams, for the following reasons.

1. They are constructed across streams.

2. They have a constant level of water, maintained by spillways.

3. There is no lateral flow of water so no ‘scouring’ of the banks is in effect.

4. They are subject to Hydraulic Dynamic forces – pressure and waves. They have a Phreatic Line as they are under constant water pressure.

5. They are not designed to over-top, hence the spillways.

6. Trees are not allowed on dams (See D H Gray, USACE, FEMA, ASDSO)

6. Phreatic line problems can cause seepage, boils etc.

Levees on the other hand constitute –

1. Embankments are build parallel to the water flow of a river or streams.

2. They are only operational in time of flood. (Holding back water)

4. They are designed to withstand over-topping.

5. Trees help withstand scouring caused by rapid flow of water in flood situations.

6. No spillways build into a levee.

7. Phreatic line problems virtually non existent.

Michael Caswell

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Here is what I believe to be one of the most important collection of data regarding all aspects of the arguments regarding trees on slopes, woodlands, rivers, levees and embankment dams.
It was published by USACE Engineer Resource and Development Center  ERDC-SR-10-2 and is available at https://el.erdc.dren.mil/elpubs/pdf/sr10-2.pdf
The document is 377 pages long and all the relevant articles have been condensed into the attached pdf file. 
* Levee or dam.pdf (147.03 kB - downloaded 3 times.)
« Last Edit: December 16, 2018, 11:31:40 am by Michael Caswell »

Michael Caswell

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Dammit! It's a DAM!!
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2018, 08:02:51 am »
More proof!

Here's an old Oxbow map (1840's) showing the original canal and the new embankment which formed Oxbow Lake - here called a reservoir.

 The originators of The Great Embankment called this a RESERVOIR. Reservoirs are made by making DAMS. Therefore the Great Embankment must be    ---   A DAM!
« Last Edit: December 24, 2018, 09:40:34 am by Michael Caswell »