Canal enthusiasts, local officials, and others recently got a chance to witness the inner workings of Lock 30 in Macedon, which is currently undergoing maintenance to keep it safe and operable. The Macedon lock has been emptied of its water, which is why the New York Canal Corporation refers to these maintenance projects as “pump-outs.”
Shane Mahar, a spokesman for the Canal Corp, said that each of the 57 locks in New York’s canal system, including the Erie and Cayuga-Seneca, undergoes extensive maintenance every ten years. The only way to perform maintenance deep within these locks is to get the water out. This is done by blocking water from entering the locks with coffer dams that provide a strong seal, while pumps keep the chamber dry so maintenance crews can repair and refurbish lock components typically underwater, like the gates and valves.
The work starts in November and generally finishes just before the canal system opens later in the spring. It takes all winter to complete, and it’s always a race to finish before the opening in May.
Mahar stated that each pump-out project costs the Canal Corp. around $1 million a year, which is part of the $140 million spent annually on canal maintenance.
New York’s canal system includes the Erie, Cayuga-Seneca, Champlain, and Oswego canals, spanning 524 miles and linking the Hudson River with the Great Lakes, Finger Lakes, and Lake Champlain. The season for the canal system runs from May to October.
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