A public hearing is due to take place this Thursday (9th February 2006) in the city of Schenectady, near Albany, New York, to discuss the safety of dams in the US state.
The New York State Assembly is organising the event, which will be attended by environmental officials from Albany and New York, as well as experts in emergency management, local leaders and concerned members of the public.
There are 5564 dams in New York state, including 383 that are considered high hazard. The Department of Environmental Conservation (which is the New York state regulatory agency for dams) says that there are two times when dam failure generally occurs: just after construction and when the structure reaches 50-60 years of age. Nearly 2000 dams in the state are over 60 years old.
One issue to be addressed in the hearing will be the concerns of some people living along Schoarie creek, New York state, who have been worried about the structural problems at the nearby Gilboa dam. Anxieties have arisen that the 1927-built dam might fail, although repairs are now underway on the project.
The meeting also hopes to tackle the problem of dam information not being readily available to the public.
Events in 2005 such as flooding in several New York counties in April and the failure of Hadlock Pond dam in Washington county, New York, in July have highlighted dam safety as an issue in the US.
The hearing will take place at Schenectady County Community college.
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