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Funds released for new rain and stream gauges along Mohawk, Oswego and Upper Hudson River basin

WASHINGTON – The New York State Canal Flood Warning System has received a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding obligation totaling $1.2 million for the installation of rain and stream gauges along the Mohawk River, Oswego River and Upper Hudson River Basin.  Rain gauges, also known as precipitation gauges, measure rainfall in areas at risk of flooding; and stream gauges measure the water level of rivers and stream systems to detect cresting waters.  The Canal Flood Warning System is a NYS program that will combine forecasting, early monitoring systems like precipitation gauges and stream gauges, and precise flood warnings to get first responders and local communities real time data they need in the risk or event of flooding. 

The $1.2 million obligation is part of a 75% federal cost share on a $1,633,333.33 project, distributed via Section 404 Hazard Mitigation funds associated with Hurricane Irene.  The funding will go the NYS Canal Corporation, who will be in charge of distributing those funds according to specific locations based on their project guidelines.  New York State has submitted an $8.5 million Hazard Mitigation Grant Proposal to FEMA, and the Senators are announcing another piece of FEMA-approved funding for the overall project.  U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced a $1 million obligation for these gauges in November 2013.

"The Canal Flood Warning System is a comprehensive plan to use the latest technology to New York’s advantage in the battle against flood damage.  By protecting our existing stream gauge network and placing new stream and rain gauges, we will be able to better predict and mitigate future floods,” said Schumer. “Senator Gillibrand and I will continue to fight for federal funding to support New York State’s flood-prevention network and bring a measure of peace of mind to residents all along the Mohawk Valley, Oswego River and Upper Hudson Valley, who sit in river valleys that have been plagued by river flooding over the past few years.  More early detection devices means we can better measure real time changes in rainfall and river levels, which will help our local communities and first responders predict and prepare for the next flood.”

“After back-to-back years of storms that swept away roads, bridges, businesses and entire communities, we know stream gauges are key to staying ahead of the storm, and keeping our families safe,” Gillibrand said. “This federal investment can help keep the necessary precautions in place that monitor and protect us from natural environmental changes and disasters.” 

This grant will fund the installation of numerous precipitation gages to be used in combination with existing monitoring devices and data to monitor changing conditions throughout each watershed as severe weather events occur.  The risk being mitigated is riverine flooding within three New York River basins: the Mohawk, Oswego, and Upper Hudson River Basins.  The following counties are included in these basins:  Albany, Cayuga, Chemung, Essex, Greene, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Ontario, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Schuyler, Seneca, Tompkins, Warren, Wayne, and Yates Counties. 

The warning system would provide emergency responders, local officials and residents detailed information that would allow more effective planning, response and notification, thereby reducing the potential effects on the public through evacuation or preparation.  The flood warning system will also provide local emergency managers with accurate information to safely manage decision making in flood prone areas including evacuations and road closures.  The  data would be integrated with National Weather Service precipitation forecasts to provide near real-time stream flow and water elevation forecasts.  More importantly, the flood warning system will also include a system optimization component and flood mitigation analyses to optimize the timing of reservoir releases and water control structure operations to minimize flood damage.

The funds were awarded under Section 404 of the Stafford Act, which provides for Hazard Mitigation discretionary funding for disaster relief and emergency assistance.  This specific pot of funding comes out of the Section 404 funds associated with Tropical Storm Lee.  The purpose of Section 404 mitigation funds is to promote measures that reduce future loss to life and property, protect federal investment in public infrastructure and ultimately, to help build disaster resistant communities.