Almanack Contributor Ry Rivard

Ry Rivard


Sunday, June 7, 2020

Dam failure and implications for the Adirondacks

former marcy damRecent dam failures in Michigan are a reminder that humanity’s efforts to hold back rising water with aging infrastructure are not guaranteed to succeed.

The Michigan case, where two dams on the same river failed, makes it hard to point fingers at a single problem. But it provides a particularly well-documented example of what happens when a privately owned dam isn’t maintained. In a blistering piece that appeared in Slate, a former native of Midland writes about the history and current owners of one of the failed dams. The full piece is worth reading because it shows how a private dam owner can avoid making upgrades until it’s too late.

Regulatory failure is also usually a factor in dam failure: In Michigan, there are two dam safety staffers for the whole state and 2,500 dams, the Detroit Free Press reported. In New York, as of 2018, there were 11 staffers looking out for more than 5,800 dams.

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Saturday, April 4, 2020

Your help needed in obtaining water quality reports

Collecting water quality data from Fawn Lake(Calling all citizen scientists! The following is from Water Line, a weekly newsletter by Adirondack Explorer water reporter Ry Rivard.)

Late last year, I began requesting documents from the state of New York to help me understand who around the Adirondacks may be drinking potentially unsafe water.

While larger communities in the state of New York post their annual drinking water quality reports online, not all smaller communities do this.

New York is notoriously slow in responding to requests for public records. To give state officials the benefit of the doubt, it’s a big state and a lot of people want to know things about it. The other explanation is that government officials like to control information, particularly information that might scare people or make themselves look bad.

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