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Saranac Lake seeks bids for first FEMA flood repair project

April 19, 2012
By CHRIS KNIGHT - Senior Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

SARANAC LAKE - The village is seeking bids to repair a sewer line damaged in the spring 2011 floods, the first of what will be several Federal Emergency Management Agency-funded projects in the village.

At its Monday meeting, the village Board of Trustees gave village Manager John Sweeney approval to seek bids for repairs to a sewer line that runs from the Church Street area to Woodruff Street, in the vicinity of the Grand Union supermarket.

Sweeney told the Enterprise that there was a "surcharge" on the old clay-tile line during the flooding of the Saranac River and sections of it became misaligned.

Article Photos

Saranac Lake village Managing John Sweeney
(Enterprise file photo)

"What they're going to do is correct the misalignment," Sweeney said. "And it is yet to be determined, based on how the bid comes back, if they're going to dig that up and replace that section or if they're simply going to slip line the entire section."

The project has a price tag of $114,000, and FEMA will cover 75 percent of that cost with the state and the village splitting the remaining 25 percent. The village has secured the necessary easements to do the work, Sweeney said.

This is the first of what will be several flood-related projects in the village funded by FEMA, but it's not the first flood repair project.

"Others have been completed, but they were done in house," Sweeney said. "We've repaired sewer lines in the Crossfield (Ave.) area, we've done repairs to embankments. Basically it was the little stuff, the stuff we could just get over and done with."

The village has a list of more costly and complex flood-related projects that will be handled by outside contractors and are in various stages of design and engineering. They include repairs to the headwall in Riverside Park and the foundation of the village office building, work on the penstock in the village Water Department building, stabilizing Hydro Point Park at the base of the Lake Flower dam and repairs to a retaining wall on Pelkey Lane. A section of the River Walk behind the Harrietstown Town Hall was also damaged in the floods, and Sweeney said he'll be working with the River Corridor Commission to come up with a plan to replace it.

The most costly repair project is at the village Wastewater Treatment Plant. The facility's final clarifiers were overwhelmed with water from the Saranac River during the flooding. AES Northeast, one of the two engineering firms the village hired to deal with the flood-related projects, said in a recent report to the village that there was a structural failure of clarifier number two during the floods. It will require complete replacement to function properly, which could cost $2.4 million, the engineering firm said. How much of that cost FEMA will pick up hasn't been determined yet, as the agency and the village's insurance company are still in negotiations.

Sweeney said the process of working with FEMA hasn't been easy.

"It is complicated," he said. "Their terminology is foreign to me, so I have to keep going back to the book. But the New York state representatives have been wonderful to work with."

It was right around this time last year that the water level in the Saranac chain of lakes and the Saranac River started to rise, fueled by a springtime surge of snowmelt and heavy rain. The flooding reached its high point in late April when the water was 38 inches over the Lake Flower dam's spillway.

"Can you believe the difference in 365 days?" Sweeney said. "Right now we might be even begging for water because the woods are so dry. And last year we had 3 feet of water going over the top of the dam."


Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or



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