Turn to Tara: Dam dangers

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RYE BROOK -

Turn To Tara has revealed that the Hudson Valley is home to the largest number of high-hazard dams in the state, where a failure could lead to catastrophic damage.

While Superstorm Sandy taught many residents the painful lessons on the importance of protecting critical infrastructure, News 12's Tara Rosenblum has discovered some potentially deadly gaps.
      
The Hudson Valley is home to the largest number of dams in New York state – roughly 1,100 of them in the five counties covered by News 12.

One out of every 10 of those dams is classified as high hazard, meaning a breach could cause devastating damage like flooded highways, a compromised water supply or risk of death.

News 12 obtained state records that show 94 local bridges are labeled "unsound" or "deficiently maintained," with the highest concentration of them located in Orange County.

That’s where News 12 found the Goshen Reservoir is listed in need of corrective action, despite being owned by the village and used as a primary water supply.

Top aquatic ecologist George Jackman recently met Tara Rosenblum at the nearly century-old Swan Lake dam in the town of Mount Pleasant, rated unsound at its last inspection two years ago.

“They have a 50- to 70-year life and they have to be either rebuilt, repaired or removed,” says Jackman. “You can't ignore a dam. These are not stone walls in a forest you can just ignore. These are something that must be maintained.”

The problem is there are so many aging dams across New York. The state comptroller says it would take $350 million to fix them all, and that money isn’t currently available.

Ignoring the problem can lead to painful consequences. Back in 2005, the aging Hadlock Pond dam in Washington County collapsed, unleashing half a billion gallons of water and $10 million of damage to homes downstream.

Sen. Chuck Schumer says it’s not an economic risk that has him so troubled. Two years ago, it was revealed that Iranian hackers tried to sabotage the Bowman Avenue dam through a cyberattack - right in Rye Brook.

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