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Barge Canal / Mohawk River Flooding at Schenectady Examined:
Appendix D: Supplemental Excerpts from Late-1970's Press Reports

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This information is from p. 23 of Barge Canal / Mohawk River Flooding at Schenectady Examined: A Report to the People of Schenectady by James E. Duggan (Schenectady, 2007), and is reproduced here with permission of the author.

To counter the US Army Corps of Engineers proposal of a "flood-control" levee-wall project in Schenectady, the work of the Schenectady County Chamber of Commerce task force began in March 1977. Reports three decades ago in local newspapers covering the matter showed that, in seeking to reduce vulnerability and to mitigate effects, the task force had recommended adding new operational capabilities at the Vischers Ferry Dam and had attempted to negotiate understandings with state officials during the 1977-1979 period.

A variety of pertinent excerpts from the press reports follow.

"Corps spokesman Samuel Tosi, chief of the river basin section of the corps' New York City office, noted the Mohawk River functioning 'almost like a reservoir between Locks 7 and 8.'" (Schenectady Gazette 4/12/1977)

"…Conduct a study… installing flood gates… operable… lowering… allow sufficient extra water… reduce chance of floods (reduce average minimum level … greatly decrease the severity… are some small water gates below the dam's spillway… largely inoperative." (Schenectady Gazette 1/23/1978)

"…damaged sluice gates at Vischers Ferry Dam (to be) repaired as an alternative solution…." (Schenectady Gazette 6/28/1978)

The expression "damaged sluice gates" meant what, were they real, were the damages repaired, were they at the power facility, could they actually be "an alternative solution"?

At that time, a NYSDEC associate hydraulics engineer offered his opinion about the proposal of the task force toward adapting the dam (italics added) —

"…virtually nothing you can do — including taking the dam out — is going to do much … modification… might help 'a little bit' in a 'limited number of circumstances'… ice blockages… direct cause… holding water back… half mile upstream of the dam." (Schenectady Gazette 1/23/78)

A year later, the matter resurfaced (italics added) —

"The task force said some floods are caused… because ice forms above the dam… not equipped to drain… reservoir during … run-off… allow water to go downstream fast enough so ice jams wouldn't be a problem and the river height at the Stockade would not reach flood stage…" (Schenectady Gazette 3/10/1979)

A NYSDEC seven-page report stated —

"…Vischer Ferry Dam has no impact on flooding in the city's Stockade area… repairs or modifications… little effect… perennial threat of flooding… caused by winter ice jams … very little can be done… measurements… March 14, 1977 flood showed changing the dam would result in about a 5-inch lowering… at the 223-foot flood stage." (Knickerbocker News 4/19/1979)

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