Look up the dams on your favorite Adirondack rivers
By Zachary Matson
The state documents over 500 dams in the Adirondack Park. Presenting different risks to public safety, many haven’t been inspected in decades or at all.
Below is a database compiled by the Adirondack Explorer using the website Airtable. The database includes details from the state Department of Environmental Conservation dam inventory, as well as insepction reports and engineering documents for some structures obtained through the state Freedom of Information Law.
While the state inventory lists over 1,300 dams in the 12 counties that comprise the Adirondack Park, the below database only includes those within the Blue Line.
You can group the dams by hazard rating or county; search by name, owner or river; compare heights and lengths; research uses and construction types; examine inspections reports; and read hundreds of pages of engineering studies of some of the region’s high hazard dams.
Here are the hazard defintions used to classify dams in the state:
- Class “A” or “Low Hazard” dam: A dam failure is unlikely to result in damage to anything more than isolated or unoccupied buildings, undeveloped lands, minor roads such as town or county roads; is unlikely to result in the interruption of important utilities, including water supply, sewage treatment, fuel, power, cable or telephone infrastructure; and/or is otherwise unlikely to pose the threat of personal injury, substantial economic loss or substantial environmental damage.
- Class “B” or “Intermediate Hazard” dam: A dam failure may result in damage to isolated homes, main highways, and minor railroads; may result in the interruption of important utilities, including water supply, sewage treatment, fuel, power, cable or telephone infrastructure; and/or is otherwise likely to pose the threat of personal injury and/or substantial economic loss or substantial environmental damage. Loss of human life is not expected.
- Class “C” or “High Hazard” dam: A dam failure may result in widespread or serious damage to home(s); damage to main highways, industrial or commercial buildings, railroads, and/or important utilities, including water supply, sewage treatment, fuel, power, cable or telephone infrastructure; or substantial environmental damage; such that the loss of human life or widespread substantial economic loss is likely.
- Class “D” or “Negligible or No Hazard” dam: A dam that has been breached or removed, or has failed or otherwise no longer materially impounds waters, or a dam that was planned but never constructed. Class “D” dams are considered to be defunct dams posing negligible or no hazard. The department may retain pertinent records regarding such dams.
(Warning: some of the data included in the state inventory is outdated or inaccurate.)
Go forth and explore!
About this series
This article is part of a special Adirondack Explorer investigation into the conditions of hundreds of dams in the Adirondack Park.
We launched the series in the March/April 2023 issue of our magazine.
Stay current on this and other Adirondack issues by subscribing today!
Brian O'Donnell says
Thanks for the article. Looking forward to the rest of the story!
Adding a little updated information on the 182-0276, Mountain View Lake Dam, Franklin.
The dam was completely removed and rebuilt in 2020. Same location.
The reconstruction cost was born entirely by the water district property owners. No state or county $$$ used, the local township (Bellmont) provided some assistance vis a vis trucks and sponsorship of the bond. Public access is provided at two locations.
The owners/payers of the dam have no control over the operation of the dam.
To many camp owners in the district, this seems patently unfair. If the state/county contributed some $$ to the project, which is a public recreational resource, it would be different.
James D Lovegren says
A few years ago, I was visiting a friend who lives in the Park and, in our wanderings, we came across something very old that appeared to me to be a fish ladder. Is that a thing in the ADKs and, if so, is there any information available on where they are located?