New York City Department of Environmental Protection officials opened the Gilboa Dam site to government leaders, the media and the public Tuesday to get a firsthand look at reconstruction.
The dam has been in service for 85 years and impounds Schoharie Reservoir, the northernmost reservoir in New York City’s water supply system. The $400 million dollar reconstruction of the dam is the largest public works project in Schoharie County, and one of the largest in the entire Catskills region. The project began in June 2011.
It includes reinforcing the dam with 234 million pounds of concrete, reconstructing the spillway, and installing a new release tunnel around the dam from Schoharie Reservoir into Schoharie Creek.
The siphons will later be replaced by a new release tunnel – also known as a “low-level outlet” – which is expected to be finished by 2019. The permanent release tunnel will be capable of releasing roughly 1,500 million gallons a day from the Schoharie Reservoir.
During Hurricane Irene the DEP was briefly unable to communicate with sensors that monitor the dam - those sensors have been relocated to ensure continuous contact.
Republican Assemblyman Pete Lopez of the 102nd district says that devastation across Schoharie County as a result of 2011 storms Irene and Lee has left a lasting impression on residents.
DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland says the biggest lesson they learned from Irene was to engage in a policy of acting conservatively, to protect public health and safety.
Schoharie County's Interim Director of Emergency Management Kevin Neary says the county, DEP and New York Power Authority are working together to improve safety and enhance communications among the agencies.
The DEP says the dam restoration project is two years ahead of schedule. If work continues on its current timeline and weather conditions remain favorable, construction will be completed in 2014.