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Sen. Schumer calls attention to aging North Country dams, pushes for water resources legislation

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The north country has 180 high- and significant-hazard dams, including seven in Lewis County and 24 in St. Lawrence County, that are aging and could cause significant loss of life or damage to property if they were to fail, according to a statement released Thursday by U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer.

Sen. Schumer, D-N.Y., wants the Senate to pass legislation to guard against that by boosting federal funding for dam inspections and maintenance.

“As our weather patterns become more extreme and our nation’s dams and other infrastructure continue to age, it’s the federal government’s job to invest in our dams to make these structures safer and more reliable,” Sen. Schumer said in a news release.

The legislation is part of the Water Resources Development Act of 2013, which could come before the Senate in the next two weeks.

The legislation is projected to cost about $5.9 billion over the 2014-18 period and would authorize the Army Corps of Engineers to construct water projects for mitigating storm damage, restoring ecosystems and reducing erosion on inland and intercoastal waterways, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

It also would allow the agency to establish grant programs to assist local and state governments with dam safety and rehabilitation programs.

According to the release from Sen. Schumer’s office, the legislation will reauthorize the National Dam Safety Program and provide funds to be split among the states based on relative number of dams per state. That money will go toward dam safety research, dam safety training and the development of emergency action plans.

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