Seward Announces Gilboa Dam Bills

James L. Seward

January 20, 2006

At the monthly meeting of the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors, State Senator James L. Seward (R-C-I/Milford) unveiled new legislation that would boost safety and inspection requirements at the Gilboa and other New York City-owned dams.

Seward also announced a $50,000 state grant to assist the county with the costs of emergency preparedness resulting from the heightened state of alarm following the city’s October disclosure that the dam was in danger of failing.

"The safety of the people I represent in the Schoharie Valley -- those living downstream of the Gilboa Dam -- is of paramount importance," Seward said. "I am committed to the legislative or legal action necessary to ensure that New York City lives up to its responsibility to manage its dams for flood control and to protect people living in the dam's shadow. The bills that I am introducing will provide new safeguards for area residents and reassert the state's role as a watchdog of the city's actions."

Seward announced that the following bills had been introduced in the state senate this week:
*S. 6415 -- Requires the state Department of Environmental Conservation to perform a thorough, engineered analysis of dams owned, maintained and operated by New York City. Currently, DEC is required to review dam inspection reports, but the depth of review and analysis is not defined;
*S. 6416 -- Mandates that the commissioner of the New York City DEP develop and report to the state the city's maintenance plans and operations for its dams. Existing law does not require the DEP to provide detailed maintenance schedules to the state DEC;
*S. 6417 -- Requires the state DEC to provide copies of inspection reports of city-owned dams to local officials in which the dams are located.

"The bills will improve state oversight of the dams' operation and maintenance and provide disclosure of reports, " Seward said. "The senate will be begin acting on the measures as soon as next week. "

Seward also announced that he would be setting aside $50,000 in the 2006-2007 state budget to help offset Schoharie County's expenses resulting from the heightened state of alarm over the dam's safety. The county and towns have updated their emergency plans and are considering an early warning system and a PSAP center. Funding could be used for expenses such as software or equipment.

"Bottom line: I will do whatever I can as a legislator to make the people of the Schoharie Valley safer and to ensure that the city takes its responsibility to my constituents seriously and improves its management of the high hazard dam in Schoharie County," Seward concluded.