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If the Green Lake dam in Orchard Park were to fail, it could result in “widespread or serious damage” to the area, and loss of human life or widespread substantial economic loss is likely, according to a designation by the state.

The century-old earthen dam has been reclassified by the state Department of Environmental Conservation from an intermediate hazard to a high hazard, town Councilman Eugene Majchrzak said.

That doesn’t mean the dam is in danger of failing but is an indication of what could happen if it did fail, according to the state.

The town has discussed repairing or replacing the dam for years, and one of the drawbacks is the cost. The estimated cost of reconstructing the dam is approximately $1.8 million, Majchrzak said.

“Key problems relate to the emergency spillway, steep slopes on the upstream and downstream sides and the growth of large trees, which, if toppled by a storm, could displace enough earth to cause failure,” he said.

But Orchard Park is hopeful it could receive state assistance.

Majchrzak and Town Engineer Wayne Bieler recently went to Albany to meet with State Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo, chairman of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, Assemblyman Michael P. Kearns, D-Buffalo, and others.

“Our purpose was to see if we could get some state help financially on this project,” Majchrzak said. “We do have a commitment. It’s a verbal right now. We’re waiting for a letter.”

He said the town is hoping to receive something in writing in the next month.

“Eventually we are going to have to address the dam. It’s better that we do it sooner than later from a cost standpoint,” he said.

email: bobrien@buffnews.com