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Wed., Sep. 2
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

Town officials still seeking answers on Salmon River flooding


FORT COVINGTON – The Fort Covington Town Board has decided they will not provide assistance to resident Ray Henstock, who sent a letter complaining his property had been damaged when the Salmon River flooded.

Board members instead decided they will refer Mr. Henstock to other agencies who may be able to help him, such as the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) or the Franklin County Soil and Water Department.

The board did not make an official motion or pass an official resolution on the matter.

At the Monday meeting, Supervisor Pat Manchester announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) approved a request the town had made for assistance in January 2010. It was made following a 1,200 foot ice jam between the Fort Covingtohn American Legion and the Center Street bridge that resulted in the flooding and evacuation of about 16 homes along the Salmon River. The town was initially turned down because of a lack of federal funding.

USACE will be in Fort Covington on a yet-to-be-determined date to perform a feasibility study to see if it will be worth investing government resources in conducting a study to find means for stopping the ice jams and flooding.

“It’s a study of a study,” Ms. Manchester said.

She reported to the town board on Monday that seven or eight USACE members will be coming to town to perform the probe.

She said the study will not take anything from the town coffers. A letter she sent to the USACE in 2010 states that pursuant to the Flood Control Act of 1948, the federal government will pay the first $100,000. Anything over the amount will be split between the federal government and a non-federal source, in this case NYSDEC.

A 2010 email between and provided by USACE officials suggests that possible solutions to the jamming and flooding could include “river restoration measures to improve conveyance of water sediment and ice through the village. Another mitigation alternative would be ice retention upstream of the former dam.”

Ms. Manchester said she believes the ice jams and floods are a direct result of the removal of an old hydro dam from the Salmon River in 2009.

“There was never was any definitive answer. There was a lot of speculation there was a huge amount of sand and silt that moved down river after the dam was taken out,” Ms. Manchester said.

The sediment would have raised the water level, allowing ice to be trapped easily as it flows downstream to the St. Lawrence River.

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