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Gilboa Dam Re-Hab Complete

NYCDEP / flickr

There's reason to celebrate today in Schoharie County. The Gilboa Dam Rehabilitation Project has come to an end...

The $138 million dam reconstruction – believed to be the largest public works project in the Catskills – was completed two years ahead of schedule.

Adam Bosch is Director of Public Affairs at NYC Environmental Protection's Bureau of Water Supply:    "The dam was rehabilitated by adding 234 million pounds of concrete, adding more than 500 massive spillway slabs. The new dam also has an inspection gallery that goes through the middle so that we can constantly inspect its condition. It was designed in such a way that dissipates the energy of water as it spills over the dam. This project from the beginning was really a public safety project for us and for the 8,000 residents who live downstream. When we learned about the condition of the dam in 2005 and its ability to stand up to very strong storms, that was a very unacceptable condition both for the city and for the people downstream, so we moved very quickly to fix it."

The rehabilitation was completed ahead of schedule despite a nine-month setback in the wake of Hurricane Irene, which inflicted historic damage upon the Catskills and the city’s water supply.   Gilboa Supervisor Tony Van Glad:   "Folks who live in the Schoharie Valley can sleep with an easy mind knowing the dam is completed and safety has been brought up to specs.”

The project also adapted to some work limitations after a pair of bald eagles built two nests near the dam’s west support wall. DEP was required to curtail some construction work during the eagles’ breeding season, along with monitoring the eagles and their hatchlings, which are protected by federal law.

Pete Lopez (file photo)
Credit WAMC
Assemblyman Pete Lopez

Officials say that the dam is now strong enough to withstand a storm that is more than 2.5 times as powerful as Irene.   Assemblyman Pete Lopez:   "So all of us certainly applaud the city's massive investment in making the dam more resilient and more resistant. We are now following and working for the city as it develops advance release works and coupled with the advance release works, we will also be looking for the city to work with us to develop a release protocol that can provide a pre-emptive capability to mitigate future storm events."

Gilboa Dam is 2,024 feet long, 155 feet high, and more than 150 feet wide at its base.  It is crucial to the Catskill Water Supply system, one of three surface water systems operated by NYCDEP. It is the northern-most component of New York City’s raw water system, supplying 1.2 billion gallons per day, over 40 percent of the city’s water, to 8 million people.

State experts call it “arguably the largest gravity fed, unfiltered, water supply system in the world.” Now, it’s expected to stand tall for years to come.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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