WASHINGTON — More than half the dams in New York State are considered either highly hazardous or significantly hazardous and New York’s Senators are voicing concerns.
Sen. Charles Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand are urging the Army Corps of Engineers to reveal what is currently being done to provide federal support to the entities responsible for maintaining the 1,934 dams listed on the National Inventory of Dams, in New York State.
The senators said of the dams in New York, 424, or 22 percent, are classified as high hazard, indicating that failure would likely result in a loss of life or major property destruction, and 576, or 30 percent, are classified as significant hazard, indicating that failure would likely result in economic loss, environmental damage, disruption of lifeline facilities, and more.
“After witnessing the dam failures that devastated parts of Michigan earlier this year, I am calling on the Army Corps of Engineers to do everything in their power to protect New Yorkers who live near one of the nearly 2,000 dams in the state. We must do everything we can to shore up and strengthen our dams and ensure that New Yorkers and their homes are safe,” Schumer said.
Schumer and Gillibrand explained that while a dam does not necessarily have to be in poor condition or deteriorating to be classified as high or significant hazard, catastrophic failure would create an emergency and devastate local homes, businesses, and livelihoods.
Furthermore, the senators clarified that they were asking the Army Corps of Engineers what specific measures they were taking to maintain New York’s dams, other than through the High Hazard Potential Dam Grant Program run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which both senators support. They also specifically asked for more information on what actions the federal government has taken to maintain the 29 federally-owned dams in New York and protect residents who live in surrounding areas.