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Local Officials Confirm Homeland Security Warning About Westchester Dam

The Bowman Avenue Dam in Rye.
The Bowman Avenue Dam in Rye. Photo Credit: Google Maps

RYE, N.Y. -- Rye's city manager released additional details Monday about a threat two years ago on the city's computer system involving the Iranian government.

Rye City Manager Marcus Serrano said that in September 2013, the City of Rye was approached by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security about an investigation into the unauthorized access to the City’s computer system, specifically relating to the Bowman Avenue Dam. The dam is located near Rye's border with the town of Harrison, Interstate 287, Port Chester Middle School, the Rye Ridge Shopping Center and Blind Brook High School.

The city cooperated with that investigation, and about January 2014, the DHS provided a detailed report to the city, Serrano said.

The report remains classified. News about the apparent security breach was reported Sunday on Daily Voice.

The incident occurred during a wave of hacking linked to Iran’s government against websites of U.S. banks.

The breach remains a major concern to U.S. officials concerned about possible digital intrusions into America's power grid, bridges, dams and pipelines.

The Bowman Avenue Dam is a structure dating to the 1940’s which controls water on the Blind Brook, a water course which runs roughly southward thru the City and empties into the Long Island Sound. The dam is located upstream from the City in the Village of Rye Brook, but is owned by the City of Rye.

About June 2013, according to Serrano, a sluice gate was added to the Dam, in order to help control the flow of water and assist with flood mitigation during storm events. The gate was designed to be opened and closed via computer; however, despite a ribbon cutting ceremony, the gate was never fully operational, and remained non-functioning through the DHS investigation.

"In any event, based on information provided to us, at no time was the sluice gate ever manipulated by unauthorized users outside of the City,'' Serrano said in Monday's press statement.

Subsequent to and after taking certain security measures consistent with the DHS report, the City used the sluice gate for the first time during a storm event from April 30 to May 1, 2014, Serrano said.

After that storm, the City has been analyzing data to determine how best to utilize the sluice gate during future storms.. The City will use funding through the New York Rising program to retain an engineering firm to assist in that effort, Serrano said.

To read Daily Voice's original report on the 2013 incident, published Sunday evening, click here.

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