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The Nation's Dams Received a Grade of "D" from the American Society of Civil Engineers' 2009 Report Card for America's Infrastructure; 11 High Or Intermediate Hazard Dams In Central New York Are In Need Of Repair

Standing at Little York Dam, Schumer Announces His Push for New Comprehensive Legislation to Help Localities Maintain and Upgrade Antiquated Dams

Schumer: It is Critical That We Repair and Maintain Our Dams to Protect our Communities

Standing at Little York Lake Dam in Homer, NY, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today revealedthat dams in Cortland County and across New York State are in a dangerous state of disrepair.  Schumer today announced the Dam Rehabilitation and Repair Act of 2009. Schumer said that many dams are more than 100 years old and some have been without attentive ownership and upkeep for decades.  Today, the Senator unveiled new legislation that would provide millions of dollars to communities across the state to repair their aging dams and address the problem head on. Schumer said that Little York Lake Dam is a prime example of the challenges we are facing - it is nearly 80 years old and in very poor condition. There are at least 11 high or intermediate risk dams in need of repair in Central New York, and over 100 across the state.   
"We need to get the state of Cortland County dams in order before we have a major disaster," Schumer said. "We may not think of them every day, but dams can provide a tremendous benefit to society. However, a dam failure can result in severe loss of life, economic disaster and extensive environmental damage.  This legislation will give our local communities the resources they need to prevent a breach."
Little York Lake is a 111 acre lake located in the Towns of Homer and Preble in Cortland County. The lake level is currently controlled by two separate concrete lake level control structures. In 2006, an engineering study conducted for the Cortland County Highway Department concluded that the Little York Dam was deficient in several ways. Of primary concern is the deterioration of the concrete. The study determined that significant repairs to the dam were necessary, however, to this point, no repairs have been made and the dam remains in poor condition.  Nearly 100 people live along Little York Lake .
Schumer today announced legislation that will make $200 million available nationwide to fund rehabilitation and repairs of publiclyowned dams. Schumer, an original cosponsor on the bill, has committed to fervently pushing the legislation through the senate.
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.
Dam failures and deficiencies over the past few years have revealed less than adequate public safety preparedness, disaster planning, and coordination across the country. According to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), dam failure generally occurs at one of two times either soon after the initial filling or after 5060 years. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers there are more than 85,000 dams in the U.S. with an average age of 51 years.
According to the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, there are 386 dams throughout New York State listed as high hazard potential dams and are recognized for their potential to cause loss of life or significant economic damage. As of December 2006, the DEC identified 133 of those dams, 11 of which are in Central New York, as high priority due to one or more deficiencies that required an engineering study or remedial work. The following dams were identified by the DEC:
Dam Name
Westbury Dam
Owasco Lake Outlet Dam
Charles Davison Pond Dam
Big Drumlin Pond Dam
New Waterville Reservoir Dam
High DamLock #6
Ilion Reservoir #2 Dam
Finches Pond Upper Dam
Frankfort Reservoir Dam
Frankfort Reservoir Dam
Bear Creek Dam
The 2009 American Society of Civil Engineers' Report Card for America's Infrastructure gave the nation's dams an overall grade of "D" citing that the number of deficient dams has risen to more than 4,000, including 1,819 highhazard potential dams. The report also noted that over the past six years, for every deficient highhazard potential dam repaired, nearly two more were declared deficient.
Standing at the Little York Lake Dam, Schumer noted that the Dam, which was constructed in the 1930's, has endured significant structural damage over the years. The dam suffered damages during a 2005 flood that were fixed but, without significant restoration to the entire structure it is anticipated that the concrete that makes up the majority of the dam mass will eventually deteriorate, compromising the dam's effectiveness and significantly impacting the quality of life for residents in Cortland County. According to the Highway Department, 50 to 100 people live along the shoreline of the lake and it provides both cultural and recreational opportunities to residents. The lake is home to the county park where the main pavilion houses the Cortland Repertory Theater, the only live play house theater in the area.
To give local governments the resources they need to fund repairs and rehabilitation for dams, Schumer today announced legislation that will establish a program to provide grants to states for use in rehabilitating publiclyowned dams that fail to meet minimum safety standards and pose an unacceptable risk to the public (deficient dams).  The legislation was introduced by Senators Akaka (DHI) and Voinovich (ROH), and cosponsored by Schumer. 
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