Upstream. A Mohawk Valley Blogzine.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Gilboa Dam Strains Relations Between Upstate & New York City

You might not have known this, but there are New York City police stations in Upstate New York. I didn’t know it until a few years ago, when I was driving up through Delaware and Schoharie Counties on Route 10 and drove by one. To be sure, these stations are manned by New York City En-Con cops, whose job is to protect the Gilboa Dam and the many other City reservoirs located in Upstate New York, but they have full police powers and they aren’t afraid to use them.

The presence of New York City cops in Upstate New York has caused a lot of resentment by local residents, especially by those who have been issued traffic tickets by them. One does wonder how well the dams and watershed areas are being guarded, if the Big Apple’s finest are running around handing out traffic tickets to local residents.

The presence of the New York City Police Department was felt even more strongly in Upstate New York recently, when City police raided a Muslim cleric’s office in the Town of Bethlehem without first notifying local authorities.

There has always been resentment between Upstate and Downstate and probably always will be. Every so often, it gets a little more noticeable. The weakened state of the Gilboa Dam has brought that resentment back into the open again when Schenectady County officials lit into New York City officials at a state Assembly hearing on Thursday, Feb. 10. Schenectady officials as well as many residents feel that New York City is not taking the condition of the dam seriously.

According to an article that appeared in Friday’s edition of The Daily Gazette, New York City Department Of Environmental Protection officials did calculations to show what would happen if the dam burst. A break in the dam would send 19 billion gallons of water down the Schoharie Creek. New York city calculations failed, however, to show what would happen once the water hit the Mohawk River. The calculations failed to show the damage that would be done to Scotia and Schenectady.

Schenectady County Legislature Chairwoman Susan Savage said, “The planning seemed to think that [the water] was going to hit the Mohawk and evaporate.”

In any event, every public official I have heard comment on the dam, has said that even in its weakened state the dam is not likely to break. Small comfort if you live in Schoharie, Middleburgh, Esperance, Burtonsville, Lost Valley, Fort Hunter, Amsterdam, Scotia and Schenectady.

One things for certain, if Gilboa fails, it won’t just be "water over the dam." And it won’t just be water and debris that will make its way to the East River via the Schoharie Creek and the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers. It will be followed by a tide of resentment towards New York City that will damage relations between Upstate and Downstate for many years to come.


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