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Lake Flower, Saranac River water level rises

May 18, 2011
By CHRIS KNIGHT - Senior Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

SARANAC LAKE - The water level in Lake Flower and the Saranac River is back up.

Village Manager John Sweeney said Tuesday night that the lake was 21 inches over the spillway at the Lake Flower dam, up from 13 inches about a week ago but still below the high point of 38 inches on April 29.

"I'm concerned," Sweeney said. "I think it's come up 3 inches since (Monday) with the 2-and-a-half inches of rain we've seen in the last 48 hours. A week ago, when we were at about 13 inches, that was normal operations for us. But it's slowly creeping in the wrong direction."

The water was about 3 inches below the Main Street bridge on Lake Flower as of Tuesday, Sweeney added.

The Saranac Lake area received about 2.5 inches of rain from Saturday to Monday, according to the National Weather Service in Burlington, and the forecast for the rest of the week doesn't look any drier. Showers are in the forecast for today, Thursday and Friday.

In addition to the threat of more rain, Sweeney said the state Department of Environmental Conservation wants to let more water through its two locks on the Saranac River, upstream from the village.

"DEC asked us to open up (Monday) because they're holding back water, and I said, 'No, we just can't take it right now,'" he said. "But they're going to work with us. When we can get the lake down and get the water back in the river off of people's yards, then they'll open up and send more down."

The flooding that began April 27 and continued for more than a week caused an estimated $6.1 million in damage to public infrastructure in the village. That includes damage to the village wastewater treatment plant and several sewer lines along the river, erosion of several retaining walls and the Hydro Point peninsula behind the village Water Department building, plus damage to bridges and the River Walk.

"Some things we're just starting to see," Sweeney said. "At the River Walk, the piers for one of the docks were tipped over. The wall behind the River Walk at the town hall is in worse shape than I thought it was in. Hydro Point (the peninsula beside the dam) seems like it's not getting any better."

On a brighter note, Sweeney said a representative of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission inspected the dam recently and found "nothing major, which is a good sign."

U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, will be in Saranac Lake Thursday to tour the flood-damaged areas with local leaders. Village officials hope the federal government will declare New York a federal disaster area, which would open up opportunities for the village to get federal disaster aid to help cover repair costs.



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