River Road residents seek flood prevention

TUPPER LAKE – River Road residents Dan McClelland and Larry Reandeau are worried about flooding this spring.

The two asked the town board at its Monday meeting to take more control in operating the Setting Pole Dam. Orion Power New York monitors the dam and submits a report to the town daily that lists the water levels and the number of inches each of the dam’s three gates are open.

“I know you abdicate your responsibility to the power company, but the power company is only interested in generating power,” said McClelland, who is also editor and publisher of the Tupper Lake Free Press. “You should and must be interested in protecting every property owner in Tupper Lake.”

The two men also approached the board on the topic last year, after their homes flooded in spring 2011 when snowpack melt and heavy rains rushed through the Raquette River.

“Two years ago and a few more months, I almost lost my house,” McClelland said. “The water came right to the floorboards. … Some folks on my road … did lose their houses.”

Reandeau questioned whether the power company is actually monitoring the dam. He said he goes there regularly, and he disagrees with the water elevations that are listed in Orion’s reports to the town.

“Water doesn’t lie,” Reandeau said. “I have water in my yard.”

That means it’s higher than usual, he said, and he believes the levels were high going into the fall as well. He said the town needs to be proactive rather than waiting for flooding to happen and then doing something about it.

Reandeau cited legal cases from 1911 and 1966 that set out the dam’s levels in the summer. He noted that those rules do not apply in the winter, so he asking the town board to take an active role in lower the water level.

“There’s nothing restricting that,” Reandeau said. “There hasn’t been any law saying you can’t do that.”

McClelland said it takes time for the water levels to lower, “so you’ve got to start now.”

Town Supervisor Roger Amell disagreed with the men. He said he monitors the levels, too, and he believes Orion’s monitors come from Potsdam daily at around 8 or 9 a.m. to check the dam.

Amell said he watches the levels at the Municipal Park, and he can tell if the water is low there, the dam is too low, and vice versa. Reandeau argued that the place to be monitoring is at the dam, not at the park.

“My point is, are we going to drain this pond now so you’ve got no water up there at all?” Amell said.

Amell noted that the flooding two years ago was a rare event that covered much of the region.

“It only happened – when did it happen? – when Long Lake lost their road and everything – once in a hundred years,” Amell said.

Reandeau said he has been looking at the water levels for the 39 years he’s lived on River Road, and he believes they are different since Orion took over control of the dams.

Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or