The Dams are NOT DAMNED!

In mid-July representatives of the PLPA and the Peck family met with Brookfield Renewables, who are responsible for the safety and integrity of the dams at the West and East ends of the lake. Brookfield sent 4 company representatives to address concerns that were part of an Adirondack Explorer news article which called the dam at the western end of the lake “unsound.”

You can read John Dackow’s much more detailed summary of the meeting in the Summer PLPA newsletter, but I’ll summarize the main points here;

  • The rating system used by the state categorizing the dam as “unsound” is predicated on a hypothetical 1000 year maximum flood of approximately 15,000 gallons of water per minute overtopping the dam itself. The largest outflow to date, during Hurricane Irene, was 1700 gallons per minute, which raised the water level approximately 1 ½ feet. The dam is engineered to contain an approximate 3 foot increase in water level before overtopping.
  • Brookfield has applied to the DEC to improve the spillway, allowing the for the release of water into the creek further in advance of any forecasted storm that could possibly overtop the dam.
  • The Helen Gould dam, the earthen dam at the eastern end of the lake is already 4 feet about the high mark water level, so overflowing at this dam is not deemed realistic.
  • The concrete dam is inspected by Brookfield 3 times per week.
  • The earthen dam is inspected once a week.
  • The overall condition of the concrete dam is considered “good” by Brookfield.
  • Brookfield has internally included the concrete dam in their 20 year capital project plans and has no intention of discontinuing use of the dam.
  • Brookfield will be replacing one of the two valves at the concrete dam, likely in 2025. Divers will be used and the lake level will not be disrupted.

All in all it was a very informative meeting and allayed many of the fears about the condition of the dam and of Brookfield’s continued maintenance and management. The four Brookfield representatives were all senior company officials who have many years of experience managing the dams that Brookfield operates across New York and New England.

The company also indicated interest in possibly assisting in any efforts to mitigate invasive species in the lake.