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Dams in Cattaraugus County Will Receive USDA Funds – Funds Will Be Used To Assess Safety of Dams & Improve Dam Structures

Schumer Secured Dam Rehabilitation Funding as Part of 2014 Farm Bill – Funding Can Help Hundreds of Upstate Dams That Are In Desperate Need of Repair

Schumer: Dam Rehabilitation Will Help Keep Residents Safe & Prevent Property Damage

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that, after his push, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will allocate the state of New York $2.9 million in funding for dam rehabilitation and $3.2 million for safety assessments of dams across the state. Specifically, two dams in Cattaraugus will receive $350,000 in federal funding for rehabilitation projects, including $150,000 for one dam site at Conewango Creek and $300,000 for one dam site at Ischua Creek. Schumer explained that this NRCS funding, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill that he voted to pass, will provide New York dam sponsors with $2.9 million for the rehabilitation of 11 dams and $3.28 million for safety assessments on 19 dams around the state.

“Dams are a crucial part of our nation’s infrastructure, and these two dam sites in Cattaraugus County provide enormous benefits to the people of Western New York, including drinking water, flood protection, renewable hydroelectric power, navigation, irrigation, and recreation,” said Schumer. “Renovating and updating these will strengthen our infrastructure and public safety by protecting residents and their property from floods, keeping our water clean and supporting agricultural productivity.”

Schumer explained that the 2014 Farm Bill, which he voted to pass, made $262 million in USDA NRCS funding available for rehabilitation of 151 dams in 26 states. These watershed management projects provide an estimated $2.2 billion in annual benefits in reduced flooding and erosion damages, recreation, water supplies and wildlife habitat for roughly 47 million people. Projects were identified based on recent rehabilitation investments and the risks to life and property if a dam failure occurred.

According to the National Inventory of Dams (NID), New York State has approximately 5,700 dams. Of these, there are about 403 dams that are considered “high hazard,” meaning they would cause significant loss of life and/or significant damage to surrounding properties if they ever were to fail. Approximately 748 New York dams are considered to be of “significant hazard,” where failure or mis-operation would result in no probable loss of human life but would cause economic loss, environmental damage, and disruption of lifeline facilities.

In addition, Schumer noted, the average dam in New York State is 60 years old, and high hazard dams are an average 84 years old. Schumer explained that, because of their age and the potential for disaster, it is crucial that high hazard dams receive the proper monitoring and maintenance from regulatory authorities, and the 2014 Farm Bill recognizes that the federal government plays a vital role in supporting the maintenance and inspection of dams by state and local governments across the U.S.