Setting Pole dam outside Tupper to be inspected

Water rushes through the Setting Pole Dam in the fall of 2018. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

TUPPER LAKE — The Tupper Lake town board decided to hire a diver to inspect the Setting Pole Dam gate, which has been “sticky” lately at its Thursday meeting.

The board was also complimented by Tupper Lake Free Press Publisher Dan McClelland during the meeting’s public comment section.

“I’d like to thank (Town Supervisor Pattie Littlefield) and the board, in general, for getting ahead of the flood season,” McClelland said.

He said he was down at the dam on the east side of town in early March and the water was below the spillway.

Town Councilman John Quinn said he was at the dam Wednesday and that gates were “wide open,” letting water, which raises the level of Raquette Pond, Simond Pond and Tupper Lake because of snow melt in the High Peaks. It allows it to flow freely east, out of town. Quinn said there was 6 to 8 inches coming over spillway. Councilman Mike Dechene said he heard from a lake resident, Bill Lewis, that the water had risen a foot in the past week.

The spillway is 1,544 feet in elevation. There are two state supreme court rulings setting the lowest allowable lake elevation at 1,543 feet and the maximum elevation at 1,545 feet, creating a 2-foot window between the two.

Littlefield said the town is not supposed to keep the water less than a foot below 1,543 feet until April 1, then it can drop lower. She said when the water rises, the gates rise as well.

The water level is a fine line for the town to control, not wanting the level to rise to flooding levels, but also not wanting it to drop too low for boats.

“I worry about the ice constantly,” Littlefield said. “Brookfield is really good to work with.”

Brookfield Renewable power company recently also suggested the town get a quote from Hunt Underwater Specialty to do a sub-service inspection of the Setting Pole Dam gate, which has been sticky lately. The quote came to $2,920.

Littlefield said the issue is minor and there’s nothing for residents to worry about.

“People were getting carried away with that when I said that,” Littlefield said. “I’ve heard people go ‘Oh, your gates aren’t working.’ The gates are working fine; the first gate is a bit sticky is all.”

Littlefield said the company would actually have done the inspection in January — diving under the ice — but Brookfield suggested doing it when all the water is back to normal levels. She said the inspection should occur at the end of May.

“It’s one of those things where you’re almost afraid to ask the question because who knows what they might find,” Quinn said after he made a motion to approve the quote.

“I said that today, too,” Littlefield said. “He said, ‘It still doesn’t release you from the liability of what you don’t know.'”

She also said retired Department of Environmental Conservation specialist engineer Dominic Fontana will look at the dam foundation and give an opinion on its condition to the board. Dominic is Councilwoman Mary Fontana’s father.

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