New York Canals 5/28/12 CONDITION
There have been a few emails recently about debris floating in the locks on the eastern end of the NY Canal System and I discussed this with Canal management at lunch today. Management is well aware of this and is working to correct it.
Keep in mind the eastern end of the Erie Canal was destroyed by the hurricane last fall, and the lower Champlain Canal was badly flooded. The rivers changed their routes in some places and at many locations they flowed thru woods and across farm fields. This loosened all kinds of debris and some creeks that feed into the canals are still choked with it.
Each time it rains, it will dislodge rafts of debris which will then tend to collect in locks. The problem is not one of cleaning it out but rather a problem of extra heavy amounts of debris still being flushed into the canals from smaller rivers and creeks.
It is difficult to fish this stuff out of the locks but crews work on it daily. I had asked why not simply use the valves to flush it, but this appears to be a safety violation. If they were to open the lower gates and open an upper valve a bit, yes this would flush the locks clean, but if that valve malfunctioned, and they then attempted to close the lower gates against the current, it would snap the shear pins and then a real serious problem would result. Safety concerns prevent using this method.
In the past I have helped operators pull logs out manually and I can tell you it just ain't easy.
New York State's Thruway and Canals are financially stressed after last fall's hurricane, and the NY State gov't has its own financial troubles, so the Canals are a bit short-handed these days. And there is still a lot of left-over destruction that is still being worked on in addition to what's floating in the water.
I do suspect that after today's discussion there will some extra work gangs assigned to the locks. If you do encounter debris in a lock, and can't go around it, just do what I do: I shift to neutral and coast right thru it with no harm done. Last year I ran over a telephone pole while in neutral and suffered no damage. I'd rather not do that, but it works. Floating debris tends not to get into water intakes, I have not experienced this problem.
There was a comment made about certain buoys being off station. Caution:
In some cases this may be due to the rivers having moved their channels during the hurricane, and the buoys may be correct. Maps may now be wrong.
Keep an occasional eye on your depth gauge if you think there's a problem.
Some towns may not yet have re-connected the electric at their piers. Keep in mind, entire towns were destroyed and they have other problems to take care of, some are higher priority than the canal.
In spite of all the destruction last fall, the NY Canal system is up and running rather nicely, a spectacular recovery in such a short time, but some details are still being worked on.
Meanwhile, our Canals continue to be the most wonderful vacation deal anywhere. Special congratulations on a job well done should go to my friends John Callaghan (Deputy Director, Canals) and Tom Ryan (Exec Director of Thruway which owns the Canals) along with Brian Stratton, Canal Director ... for the amazing way they have reconstructed the Canals after the hurricane last fall. They said it couldn't be done, but they did it.
The NY Canals are up and running. Come visit us!
PS- Could someone please forward this email to the other boater's forums, please?
Charles C Culotta, Jr
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