Author Topic: What about Safety? - Facebook Group Website vs NYS Canal Integrity Website  (Read 59 times)

Doug K

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Finally, and maybe one of the biggest safety concerns on Canal Embankment Integrity is the issue of Burrowing Animals on Earthen Dams.

The Canal Corporation is very clear on this subject, citing issues with animal burrows causing safety issues and increasing flood potential 17 times in their SEQR Environmental Impact Statement for their Earthen Embankment Integrity Program (EEIP).

Here's what the Canal Corporation has to say about invasive vegetation and animal burrows:


As discussed in the Guide Book, woody vegetation with robust root systems can disturb the soil structure in the embankment. Roots that penetrate the phreatic surface in the embankment increase the risk of internal erosion known as piping, the early stages of which can go undetected for decades resulting in a sudden failure of an earthen embankment. Animal burrows pose a similar piping potential. The animal burrow shortens the seepage path potentially leading to piping at the burrow location.

Furthermore, large trees can be uprooted by winds/erosion and leave large holes in the embankment, root systems can decay and rot
creating passageways for water through the embankment. Once a significant seepage pathway is initiated, catastrophic embankment failure could be expected to occur within one to two hours. The presence of brush and trees can also hinder critical emergency responses to flooding
or repair operations.


And more from the same EIS document:

Some wildlife species, such as woodchucks (groundhogs) and muskrats, are more tolerant to human disturbance than other species. Embankments along the canal system provide suitable habitat for these types of rodents. However, their burrowing activities can lead to serious structural damages to the canal system and costly repairs by creating voids and pathways for intruding water to accelerate erosion as discussed in the Guide Book. Identifying, controlling, and repairing rodent burrows is an important part of maintaining the structural stability of embankments. Part of the rodent control process would involve removing the rodent from that area.

NYSCC has an agreement with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Wildlife Service (WS) for assistance with control of the rodent population along the canal and feeder embankments. All trapping, relocating and population control measures would be undertaken by APHIS and not NYSCC directly. After the rodent is removed, the burrow would be filled with material depending on its size and location on the embankment in accordance with the Guide Book.


This is what the EEIP Guidebook says about Burrowing Animals:

Proper maintenance of embankments and their ancillary features is of utmost importance in protecting lives and reducing the flood risk of adjacent communities. This includes the proper maintenance of vegetation on embankments and ancillary structures. Non-compatible vegetation can harm the structural integrity of these impoundment structures, obscure visibility of the ground surface (necessary for inspections for other types of failures), impede access for maintenance and inspection, and encourage burrowing by rodents by providing habitat.

Woody vegetation with robust root systems can disturb the soil structure in the embankment. Roots that penetrate the phreatic surface in the embankment increase the risk of internal erosion known as piping, the early stages of which can go undetected for decades resulting in a sudden failure of an earthen embankment. Animal burrows pose a similar piping potential the animal burrow shortens the seepage path potentially leading to piping at the burrow location. Additionally, shade caused by woody vegetation can impede growth of more compatible grassy vegetation.

Furthermore, large trees can be uprooted by winds/erosion and leave large holes in the embankment, root systems can decay and
rot creating passageways for water through the embankment. Once a significant seepage pathway is initiated, catastrophic embankment failure could be expected to occur within one to two hours. The presence of brush and trees can also hinder critical emergency responses to flooding or repair operations.



And what does the STCC Group say about all of this? Well they simply say it's not true, even though the facts do not support their view. In fact their founder states that canalside animals will NOT leave their habitat, even if it's removed by embankment dam maintenance.

From the pen of Ms Elizabeth Agte: "This statement is on page 3-64 of the Environmental Impact Statement. The idea that if habitat is destroyed "animals will just move elsewhere" is just... incredibly silly.

That this nonsensical statement is memorialized in a supposedly serious scientific document about the environmental impacts of an action, produced for the NYS government, is really shocking

That the reference for this statement is a study about how degraded habitat is not something that wild species can successfully use is just embarrassing."





What else can be said? Maybe it's more silly to think woodchucks will be lining the Canal Embankments wasting away, looking for their covered burrows? That displaced squirrels will be shedding tears over their lost trees?

How can anyone believe, what this group is saying about embankment safety, is actually true?

Hopefully the NYS Canal Corporation will succeed in finally turning the corner on their Embankment Integrity Program and this much needed dam work will get started to repair an aging, hazardous, canalway and it's miles and miles of unsafe earthen embankments.

And hopefully a group in Perinton, who wants people to believe the "real truth" is always found on Facebook, will somehow find a way to accept they have been mistaken on the "safety" aspects" of earthen embankment maintenance. 

And that same Facebook group will stop trying to turn a public safety program to fix unsafe NYS Canal Dams into an environmental issue, saying shade is more important than human life.

« Last Edit: November 21, 2021, 09:30:33 am by Doug K »