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From our archives: Canal task force created in 2007 still has yet to meet

From our archives: Canal task force created in 2007 still has yet to meet

With ongoing discussion about canal flooding, we resurrected this story from Nov. 13, 2008.

With ongoing discussion about canal flooding, we resurrected this story from Nov. 13, 2008.

Stephen Boese held up a stack of letters he's received from a variety of New York state agencies, all responses to his question: What is the status of the Canal Flood Mitigation Task Force ?

From those responses, Boese said Wednesday, he's learned "nothing."

That's because the Canal Flood Mitigation Task Force , created by the state Legislature following the 2006 flooding that inundated communities along the Mohawk River and canal system, hasn't met yet.

Boese, a member of Schenectady's Stockade Association, has been trying to learn the task force 's progress because he and others in the frequently flooded neighborhood saw a glimmer of hope that the state government intended to look into the flooding issue and take meaningful action to minimize flood damage.

"There's always the sense of 'when is the next big one coming,' " Boese said during a meeting that focused on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' study of flooding issues in the Mohawk River watershed.

Introduced by then-assemblyman Paul Tonko, legislation calling for the task force established a goal of determining what measures should be taken to improve flood management and mitigation along the canal system.

The 13-member commission, according to the law, is to be made up of the director of the state Canal Corp., the commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the secretary of state, the commissioner of transportation, the director of the State Emergency Management Office, the commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the agriculture commissioner and the chairman or designee of the Empire State Development Corp.

The other members were to be a hydrologist, a civil engineer, a climatologist, a county emergency manager and a professional from a soil and water conservation district office.

The task force was to meet at least six times over an 18-month period and explore wetland restoration, flood control structures and communication systems while evaluating flooding's impact on agriculture, land use, health and other related topics, according to the law.

At the end of the 18-month period, the law calls for the task force to issue a draft report to the governor and state Senate.

The report, according to the law, would provide an assessment of flood mitigation and control in the state and recommendations on how to address the impact of flooding.

The law was signed Aug. 9, 2007, so a report would be due in February 2009.

Last week, DEC spokeswoman Maureen Wren said the task force , which other state agencies have said is to be led by the DEC, has not met yet. Wren said it was unclear why.

Tonko, now a congressman-elect, said later Wednesday that he still believed the state task force could serve a useful purpose and said he intended to urge officials at the state level to consider starting the work.

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