JOHNSTOWN -The state Department of Environmental Conservation has ruled one of the city watershed's dams is safer.
The city Water Board on Monday announced it received a June 18 letter from the DEC regarding the reclassification of the Warren Storage Reservoir Dam in the town of Johnstown.
The letter from DEC's Albany-based Division of Water, Bureau of Flood Protection and Dam Safety stated the dam's downstream classification was being changed from Class B "intermediate hazard" to Class A "low hazard."
But bureau Director Alan A. Fuchs noted "changes in downstream development, or other factors influencing the hazard classification, can result in the hazard class being upgraded again."
Board President Nicholas Cannizzo Sr. noted the city Water Department has been working with the Albany engineering firm of Greenman-Pedersen Inc. to get the dam reclassified. The firm made a formal request to DEC in May seeking the reclassification, based on Greenman-Pedersen's dam breach analysis report submitted to the state April 9.
Water Department Clerk Cinda Spraker said it wasn't anything her department did to the dam to get its hazard classification downgraded by the state.
"We didn't make any changes to the dam," Spraker said. But she noted Greenman-Pedersen acted on behalf of the department.
Greenman-Pedersen Vice President Eric Thorkildsen said DEC previously thought the Warren Storage Reservoir Dam on Warren Creek, serving the city for drinking water purposes, was more hazardous than it was. But he said his firm was able to convince DEC it wasn't and a Class A "low hazard" was a more appropriate classification.
"It is in the back of a woods and it wasn't really going to be a hazard," Thorkildsen said. "It's not really going to cause a danger [if breached]. The water will drain into a culvert."
He said the classification downgrade saves the city money because firms such as his have to prepare "costly assessment reports" on behalf of the city for dams that have "high hazard" or "intermediate hazard" classifications.
According to Greenman-Pedersen, construction on the Warren Storage Reservoir was completed in 1892 and it has a surface area of about one acre. The dam is of earthen construction that is 150 feet long,10 feet high with and an eight-foot spillway.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.