Bonacic: Third Dam Safety Bill Passes Senate

John J. Bonacic

March 06, 2006

State Senator John J. Bonacic (R/I/C - Mount Hope) announced today that his legislation, Senate bill 6417-A, which is the third measure in a series of legislative remedies relating to dam safety, was unanimously approved in the Senate today. The Assembly approved the bill today as well.

The bill would require information on intermediate and high hazard dams around the State be given to local officials. The Senate has previously passed legislation which improves the management of DEP reservoirs West of the Hudson River in an effort to stop flooding (S.1768-A) and enhances inspections and public access to records relating to the DEP’s West of Hudson Dams (S.6415-A). All three bills have passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate.

"The Senate has now passed three bills which relate to dam inspections and flood control. Those bills collectively give local officials across the State more information on the dams in their community. In addition, with respect to those dams West of the Hudson which hold the water supply of millions of New Yorkers, the bills take the additional steps of ensuring the reservoirs are managed intelligently, that the watershed dams are inspected in a detailed manner, and that more local officials have access to information relating to those dams."

Senate bill 6417-A amends the Environmental Conservation Law to require that within thirty days of the creation by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) of any inspection report of any intermediate or high hazard dam, the DEC shall provide to the CEO of a municipality (City/Town/Village/County) in which the dam is located with a copy of such report. DEC Commissioner Denise Sheehan has testified that of the 5,575 dams in this State, the DEC classifies 384 of them as high hazard and classifies another 780 as intermediate hazard dams.

The Assembly took action the bill passed by the Senate today, but no vote was scheduled in the Assembly on the other two bills (S.1768-a; S.6415-a), which previously passed the Senate.

"The Assembly has held a hearing and has now passed one bill. However, the Assembly has not addressed the other bills that the Senate, with wide, bipartisan support, approved. The bill that passed the Senate today is most effective for the people of our region, if done in conjunction with, and not in place of, the other bills which have passed the Senate," Senator Bonacic said.

"The public has a right to know if their lives or their property is at-risk, municipal officials have a right to know that the dams are being inspected, and owners of dams have the obligation to keep them secure. The Senate bills are about greater accountability and better dam management. I encourage the Assembly to pass all three bills," concluded Senator Bonacic.