NYS Seal


Oral Testimony by Invitation Only


Dam Safety in New York


To examine various public safety concerns and potential problems of dams within the State of New York

Thursday, February 9, 2006
10:00 am
Schenectady County Community College
Stockade Building, Room 101
78 Washington Ave
Schenectady, New York

Recent dam failures and deficiencies have revealed less than adequate public safety preparedness, disaster planning, and coordination within New York State. There are 5,564 dams in the State including 383 which are considered high hazard dams and are recognized for their potential to cause loss of life or significant economic damage. According to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), dam failure generally occurs at one of two times - either soon after the initial filling, as occurred at the Hadlock Pond Dam in Washington County, or after 50-60 years. Nearly 2,000 dams in New York State are older than 60 years, with 640 built before 1900, and 116 built before 1860.

In July 2005, the Hadlock Pond Dam in Washington County failed, displacing residents and causing serious damage to residences, other structures, and transportation arteries. Recent events have raised questions regarding the structural integrity of the Gilboa Dam in Schoharie County. While the New York City Department of Environmental Protection believes that Gilboa Dam continues to be safe under normal operating conditions, its recent investigations reveal that safety factors associated with modern engineering practices are not met by the dam in its present state. Its failure could cause tremendous damage across multiple counties.

In April 2005, massive flooding impacted the counties of Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Greene, Montgomery, Orange, Otsego, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Schoharie, Sullivan, Tioga, and Ulster, resulting in a state of emergency being declared for the region. The flooding caused major damage to many communities, including the destruction of many homes and roadways, numerous injuries, and at least one fatality. This flood was one of the worst floods the region has seen in many years.

Information about dams in New York State is not readily available to the public, making it difficult, if not impossible for citizens to make informed decisions about locating within the floodplain of an existing dam - or for them to participate in ensuring that necessary upkeep and repair are undertaken in a timely manner. In addition, limited staff resources at DEC have made inspections on medium- and low-hazard dams infrequent at best.

The Committees on Environmental Conservation and Governmental Operations are convening this hearing in order to solicit information to assist State and local policy makers on how to address these and other concerns regarding New York dams and the safety of New York State residents. The Committees will receive testimony from a variety of witnesses representing a wide range of interests including State and local government officials, and other interest groups to assist in this effort.

Oral testimony will be accepted by invitation only and limited to 5 minutes duration. 15 copies of any prepared testimony should be submitted at the hearing registration desk. The Committee would appreciate advance receipt of prepared statements. Written testimony will also be accepted and may be sent to the contact person listed on the reply form. In order to further publicize the hearing, please inform interested parties of the Committee's interest in receiving written testimony from all sources.

In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the Assembly, in accordance with its policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities, accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Assembly facilities and activities.

Thomas P. DiNapoli, Member of Assembly
Chairman, Committee on Environmental Conservation

RoAnn M. Destito, Member of Assembly
Chairwoman, Committee on Governmental Operations


Persons invited to present testimony at the public hearing on Dam Safety in New York State to be held on February 9, 2006 or who wish to submit written testimony, are requested to complete and return this reply form by February 3, 2006 by mail or fax to:

Jennifer Cossu
Committee Assistant
New York State Assembly
Program & Counsel Staff
Capitol/Room 520
Albany, NY 12248
e-mail: cossuj@assembly.state.ny.us
(518) 455-4363
fax (518) 455-5182

(It is important that the reply form be fully completed and returned so that persons may be notified in the event of emergency postponement or cancellation.)

box I plan to attend the public hearing on February 9, 2006 concerning Dam Safety in New York State to be conducted by the Assembly Committees on Environmental Conservation and Governmental Operations.

box I have been invited to make a public statement at the hearing. My statement will be limited to 5 minutes, and I will answer any questions which may arise. I will provide 15 copies of my prepared statement.


I will address my remarks to the following subjects:

box I do not plan to attend the above hearing.

box I would like to be added to the Committee mailing list for notices and reports.

box I would like to be removed from the Committee mailing list.


I will require assistance and/or handicapped accessibility information. Please specify the type of assistance required:








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