Rye Sluice Gate Helps Reduce Flooding, Code Red System Use Needs Work

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The Rye City Council talked about the success of the Bowman Avenue Dam sluice gate at its May 7 meeting.
The Rye City Council talked about the success of the Bowman Avenue Dam sluice gate at its May 7 meeting. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly

RYE, N.Y. – The newly installed sluice gate at the Bowman Avenue Dam was put to use for the very first time during the rain storm last week and helped reduce flooding in Rye, City of Rye Mayor Joseph Sack said at the council meeting Wednesday night.

With three-and-a-half to four inches of rain accumulating overnight last Thursday, the sluice gate, which controls the Blind Brook water channel with an automated gate, operated once at 2 a.m. and just before 4 a.m.

The flood mitigation measure works by pre-releasing some water to create more storage capacity. It closes using pre-set sensors that determine when the water level gets too high.

“We had a lot of rain. It did cause the banks of the Blind Brook to rise and to, in fact, crest in some very low lying areas,” Sack said. “For the most part the surface area did not come up to dangerous levels. We think that one reason why we dodged a bullet, so to speak, is because this was the very first storm in the history of Rye when the newly installed sluice gate at the Bowman Dam was called into use.”

The data obtained from the sluice gate will be used to see if any refinements can be made, City Engineer Ryan Coyne said.

“There’s a lot of retooling we have to do to learn how this new damn works,” Interim City Manager Frank Culross said. “It clearly, I think, helped."

While the sluice gate was successful, the city council admitted that its Code Red notification system was not.

The system sends out notices of road closures or other emergencies to residents, something Culross admitted has been overused in the past to the point of annoyance.

However, none went out about the flooding because there was a sense it had been overused and the city “overcorrected,” Culross said.

As a result, nine cars parked on Wappanocca Road were towed due to flooding. Police were able to identify and notify the owners of 20 other cars parked in the flood zone.

Jim Amico, of Midland Avenue, said “Code Red is a big failure so far.” While most homeowners know what’s going on, renters may not and need to be better informed because there is high turnover there.

Sack said they will try to strike a better balance in the future.

Culross said the city is considering asking residents who have permit parking to sign up for Code Red or provide contact information so they will be informed in a similar scenario. 

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Please note that the City of Rye has the ability to send notifications through two separate databases: emergency and general. Emergency notifications are those that require immediate action and may affect the safety of the community. Only those residents who have opted in to receive general notifications will be notified of less timely alerts that do not require immediate action or may affect the safety of the community. The City has the option to decide what database to use before each notification is sent. Residents are encouraged to select their notification preferences on the City of Rye's CodeRED Community Notification Enrollment page, which is found on the City's website http://www.ryeny.gov/ and selecting the CodeRED logo.