Monday, April 21, 2014 - 8:40:55 AM

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Whitney Point Dam Proving Effective in Preventing Downstream Flooding

(Source: Kate Thornton)

Without the Whitney Point Dam in Whitney Point, flooding downstream towards Binghamton would be much worse than it already is.

"The purpose of the dam is to help provide flood reduction downstream of Whitney Point, and actually for the Susquehanna River Basin," said Head Dam Tender Fred Worman.

The dam was built back in 1936 in response to the flood of 1935, as part of the Flood Control Act of 1936.

It is owned and operated by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

Water released from the dam flows into the Otselic River, which then flows into the Tioghnioga River, then the Chenango River, then the Susquehanna River.

Since its completion 1942, it's significantly helped during major floods like in 2011 and 2006, preventing a combined total of more than $104-million in additional flood damage.

It's Worman's job to make sure the dam continues to serve its purpose.

"We work very closely with the National Weather Service, and tell our dam operators to start holding water when a lot of rain is expected," said Deputy Chief of Engineering Tony Vidal.

"The Baltimore office tells us when to start holding, and we maintain the flow.  Hopefully the river will keep going down, while we're still releasing the water, and then we'll just adjust that as we go," said Worman.

And, most recently, the dam proved effective last week when heavy rain threatened a rise in the Chenango and Susquehanna Rivers in Chenango Bridge, Binghamton, and Vestal.

Worman was given orders for the dam to start holding water, causing the elevation of the lake to rise.

That helped prevent a rise in the Chenango and Susquehanna Rivers downstream, and prevented flooding in spots like Chenango Bridge, Binghamton, and Vestal.

"Our dam only controls a portion of the water that flows down the stream.  But, by being able to control just a portion of it, it'll help reduce the flood damage.

Now, the Whitney Point Lake is back to normal, with an elevation of just below 973 above sea level.

According to the US Army Corps. of Engineers, for the flood of 2011, the dam prevented $67-million in additional flood damages downstream.

And, for the flood of 2006, the Whitney Point dam prevented $37-million in additional flood damages downstream.

Since the dam went online in 1942, it has prevented approximately $718-million in flood damages.

In combination with the East Sidney Dam, the two dams have prevented more than one billion dollars in flood damages downstream, according to the US Army Corps. of Engineers.


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