Morning Read: What if the Conklingville Dam had failed?

Conklingville Dam

Conklingville Dam on Great Sacandaga Reservoir (Source: HRBRRD)

At the height of the spring floods earlier this month, officials with the Hudson River Black River Regulating District issued a warning that their massive dam on the Great Sacandaga Reservoir might be failing.

The announcement triggered a near panic among some residents.  This morning, the Glens Falls Post Star reports on a meeting between District officials and local emergency responders to talk about what happened.

Online and by phone, officials said, alarm about a breach at the dam spread rapidly among residents and was hard to quell.

“We certainly didn’t want to create panic in the street, but we did want to give some level of urgency to our message,” said Paul Lent, director of the Saratoga County Office of Emergency Services. “It’s a really delicate walk.”

Equally alarming, perhaps, was the fact that many residents apparently weren’t notified that there might be a significant problem with the structure, which holds back one of the largest waterbodies in the North Country.

Warren County officials have been criticized for not being more proactive in alerting residents, but they have defended their response by saying the information showed there was little reason for concern.

In fact, the alert was a false alarm, based on erroneous water-level readings.  Pressed to develop a better system for alerting the public about problems, the Regulating District said it lacked the cash to do so.

Read the Post Star’s full article here.

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7 Responses to “Morning Read: What if the Conklingville Dam had failed?”

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  1. Pete Klein says:

    What if the World had come to an end on May 21?
    In either case, the result would not be so good.

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  2. pete g says:

    what if infrastructure was as important to the people in albany as is feeding their own faces? there would be construction jobs available statewide.
    has anyone in government suggested they take a pay cut so they can share the pain with those less fortunate, who inturn could then be paid to repair the damn, saving a future catastrophe, or is that too confrontational?

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  3. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    If the damn is in rough shape, it’s but one more glaring example of the impending collapse of a great deal of this countries infrastructure. Dams, roads, bridges, water treatment facilities, the electrical grid, etc. What we need is something similar to the Marshall Plan, but for our own country. Make it a huge savings bond program that can actually create wealth and rebuild our country at the same time. Think of the people we could put back to work rebuilding America. The electrical grid alone would make this country vastly more efficient, safe, and more able to utilize the massive renewable energy potential here in America. It’s an idea that makes sense on so many levels.

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  4. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    In the real world of this story…

    There was a reading at the dam that indicated a rapid drop in water level of the lake. Robo call went out warning residents on one side of the river of a possible imminent collapse. No information was given to residents on the other side of the river.

    Turns out the meter was broken. But the question is, shouldn’t there be a better and more consistent response on both sides of the river?

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  5. jeff says:

    What if? I just read (via book on cd) the Johnstown Flood for the second time by David McCollough. The parallel is there. Hadley and Lake Luzerne would be hit first, then Corinth, Glens Falls and Hudson Falls. A flood like that could cut the Northway, routes 9, and 4. The dam that gave out 14 miles above above Johnstown, PA. was 900 feet wide, the reservoir about 3 miles long, and a mile wide at the widest. It had no gates as previous owners had removed them. That dam was 65 feet high.
    The Great Sacandaga dwarfs that. The specs say 29 billion cubic feet at the most, and 7 billion when low. The reservoir is 29 miles long and 5 wide at the widest. They figure Johnstown lost over 2000 people.

    It was a false reading that was involved in 3 mile island. At least the recent incident was a false positive.

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  6. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    One would think that in this age of the internet and all that the HRBRRD would have at the very LEAST have posted a warning on their website that they had a reading that indicated a potential problem and where to find out more information. I know when I look for the most current information I go to the internet first. I certainly don’t want to depend on word of mouth of my neighbors.

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  7. Curt Austin says:

    It’s goofy that they will act upon one gage, an indirect pressure gage, rather than also look out the window. Given their funding situation, perhaps they were being smart to remind people that underfunding a dam is stupid.

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