Stockade’s flooding issues not impossible to solve

*Stockade's flooding issues not impossible to solve
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Stockade’s flooding issues not impossible to solve

Your recent three part series “Rising Concerns” omitted some important information concerning the threat of flooding in the Stockade.

First, and most important is to establish that the Mohawk River is really a canal, with a series of locks that keep the water level artificially high in order to facilitate navigation, which currently consists of nearly all pleasure-boat traffic. The locks that keep the water level high can also be used to reduce the water level.

Serious flooding in the Stockade was a result of past failure in management of the canal. It is a man-made problem. If just before Hurricane Irene (a storm that caused widespread devastation across most of the east coast), the canal level had been lowered by as little as three to four feet, it would have prevented the serious flooding of Stockade homes. Since then, we have seen on several occasions, that the water level in the canal was dramatically lowered at times of impending serious storms and there has been no flooding.

As recently reported by the Gazette, (http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2015/may/04/erie-canal-lock11-repairs/),, tens of millions of dollars have since been spent to improve the locks and the overall operation of the Mohawk portion of the canal, which improves the capacity of the canal operators to respond to serious storms. The Gazette further documented (http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2015/mar/23/0323_schoharie/ ) how the Gilboa Dam (which in the past flooded the Schoharie Creek and greatly contributed to high water in the Mohawk) is now being managed to mitigate the risk of flooding at times of high water.

Additionally, as has been reported by The Gazette, and endorsed in a Jan. 13, 2013, editorial, Lock 7 needs to be further addressed to correct its flaws, which many have studied and determined to be a major contributor to the upstream flooding. It would have been helpful, and more accurate, if the “Rising Concerns” series had acknowledged the important and significant efforts that have been made which help prevent the scale of serious flooding we experienced with Hurricane Irene.

A secondary concern in the recent series is the omission of a true representation of the flood insurance issue. There was no mention that many of the homes have flood insurance with subsidized rates. With some exceptions, those who have had flood insurance since before congressional “reform” of the program pay premiums that, while significant, are nowhere near the exorbitant rates noted in the articles. Designated historic homes are also eligible for subsidized insurance. In addition, these subsidies can be passed-on to the next buyer of a home. So the flood insurance picture is not as bleak as described.

The series also reported on the potential impending “collapse” of the Stockade real estate market. By contrast, I am personally aware of at least eight homes in the described flood-plain area that have sold to apparently good and responsible owners over the past year or so. This seems pretty good for a few small blocks in Schenectady.

While impending disaster may make for catchy headlines, I did not find that the tone or content of these articles adequately describes the situation. The problem of flooding in the Stockade is manageable and largely solvable. Ultimately, proving that the risk of serious flooding has been managed could lead to lower insurance premiums and further restore vitality to the neighborhood.

There are multiple stakeholders along the Mohawk. We should all be working together to assure that its management and flood mitigation is a chief priority. Accurate information is a critically important piece of that effort.

Stephen Boese

Schenectady

Categories: Letters to the Editor

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