Hempstead Lake State Park dam considered high hazard

Posted: Updated:
HEMPSTEAD -

This weekend marks six years since Hurricane Sandy, but there are new questions about how prepared Long Island is for another hurricane.

News 12's Tara Rosenblum discovered some critical local infrastructures in need of repair, including the Hempstead Lake State Park dam.

The dam is considered to be a high hazard, and a breach could cause devastating damage, including highway flooding, a compromised water supply or even fatalities.

News 12 has obtained state records that show the 145-year-old dam is not maintained, and in need of repair and listed as having an ‘unsafe spillway.’

Massapequa native and top aquatic geologist George Jackman says “They have a 50-, 70-year life and they have to be either rebuilt, repaired or removed. You can't ignore a dam. These are not stone walls in a forest you can just ignore. These are something that must be maintained.”

However, the problem is there are several hundred aging dams in need of repair across New York and not enough money to fix them.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says, “I think this is an example of an infrastructure that hasn't gotten the priority attention it should've gotten.  Clearly there are deficiencies that need to be addressed.”

However, in the case of the Hempstead Lake State Park dam, there is a plan under review to prevent flooding downstream. It involves the removal of 2,500 trees at the park to allow the lake basin to hold more water.

Some environmentalists say it’s a bad idea, but ignoring the problem could have consequences.

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