Monday, June 1, 2009

NYSDEC Dam Safety Regulations Posted for Public Review

In the closing stages of its efforts to strengthen dam safety across the state, New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation has posted for public comment amended regulations proposed following the failure of a southern Adirondack dam in 2005.

The proposed regulations would more than double those sections of New York’s Codes, Rules and Regulations devoted to dam safety (and here, and here), implementing a regimen of inspections and record keeping requirements for owners of dams across the state. The the amended proposed regulations would also strengthen the State’s enforcement capacity, allowing the DEC to undertake repairs of privately-owned dams in cases of imminent peril to the public.

The regulations were initially presented to the public last February at a series of hearings around the state, but were met with such protest over the cost of some provisions that adjustments needed to be made. Some modifications now allow for deadline extensions for economic hardship cases.

New York State keeps three hazard classifications for impound dams ranging from class “C” or “High Hazard” where failure would likely result in the loss of life and substantial economic loss, to “Low Hazard” class “A.” Class “C” dams often exceed fifteen feet in height, and/or impound over three million gallons.

The DEC maps over 420 dams within the Adirondack Park. Thirty-two of these are rated as class “C” dams (shown on above map). On July 2, 2005 a 29-foot high dam gave way emptying the contents of Hadlock Pond across the southeastern corner of the Adirondack Park in Washington County.

The DEC will accept written comments to the amended proposed regulations until June 19.

View ADK Class C Dams & Blue Line in a larger map.

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Mark Wilson's editorial cartoons - under the pen name MARQUIL - appear in newspapers and online across New York State. He also provides editorial illustrations and occasional commentary pieces for The Sunday Gazette of Schenectady and regularly chimes in here at the Almanack, particularly at election time and during the annual Adirondack Bracket. Mark lives in Saranac Lake.

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