FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 23, 2007
Schumer Announces The Dam Rehabilitation And Repair Act Of 2007 To Aid Ailing And Debilitated Dams In The Hudson Valley
The Nation's Dams Received a Grade of "D" from the American Society of Civil Engineers 2005 Report Card for America's Infrastructure, which cited more than 3,500 unsafe dams in the United States.
Many Dams across the Hudson Valley Are More than 100 Years Old and Could Breach After Heavy Rains, Leaving Communities in the Crosshairs
Schumer Pushes for New Comprehensive Legislation to Help Localities Maintain and Upgrade Antiquated Dams
With dams across the Hudson Valley in a dangerous state of disrepair, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced the Dam Rehabilitation and Repair Act of 2007. Schumer, an original co-sponsor of the bill authored by Senators Akaka (D-HI) and Voinovich (R-OH), said that many dams are more than 100 years old and some have been without attentive ownership and upkeep for decades. After periods of heavy rain, these dilapidated dams could breach, leading to flooding in major residential communities. Schumer today announced new legislation in the senate that would establish a federal program to fund rehabilitation and repair of publicly-owned dams.
“Dam failures can be devastating and even deadly, especially in regions like the Hudson Valley where major flash floods are all too routine,” said Senator Schumer. “With Hudson Valley’s aging dams deteriorating and crumbling, this legislation will provide local communities with the resources they need to make vital repairs to them before a major breach occurs.”
Schumer today announced legislation that will establish a program with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fund rehabilitation and repairs of publicly-owned dams. It also allows for authorization of appropriation levels that will help rehabilitate these deficient dams. Schumer, an original co-sponsor on the bill, has committed to fervently pushing the legislation through the senate.
Schumer, while touring dams throughout the Hudson Valley earlier this year, noted that the most recent nor’easter exposed serious flaws in the dam networks throughout the Hudson Valley. Whaley Lake Dam in Dutchess County, for example, has a history of serious structural and repair flaws. The dam is over 150 years old and has fallen into complete disrepair. For years, remedies were sought for this dam but major improvements were never completed. The dam holds back more than 1.2 billion gallons of water.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) finally came in earlier this year and determined that either repairs would have to be made to the dam or the DEC will have to breach it. Such a breach would devastate the entire Lake Community. Whaley Lake Dam is just one of many dams across the Hudson Valley and the entire state in need of repair.
The dam has a downstream hazard potential of “high,” meaning that if a malfunction were to occur, the loss of human life as well as economic and environmental damage would be significant. There is no emergency action plan if a dam failure does occur.
According to the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, there are 384 dams throughout New York State listed as unsafe and classified as “high hazard”. There are over 1,971 dams in New York; however, there were only 8 full time employees assigned to the dam safety program as of 2005. Nationwide, there are 10,000 dams listed as high hazard. The nation’s dams received a grade of “D” from the American Society of Civil Engineers 2005 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, which cited more than 3,500 unsafe dams in the United States.
To give local governments the resources they need to protect communities in the Hudson Valley, Schumer said, this legislation requires the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to establish a program to provide grants to states for use in rehabilitating publicly-owned dams that fail to meet minimum safety standards and pose an unacceptable risk to the public (deficient dams).
Dams can provide many benefits, including flood protection, drinking water, hydroelectric power, irrigation and recreation. However, without proper maintenance, dams can be hazardous structures. Failure or improper operation of dams can result in loss of human life, economic loss, powerline disruption and environmental damage. In order to provide safe, continuous service, dams require ongoing maintenance, monitoring, frequent safety inspections and rehabilitation.