Water is high in Saranac Lake

SARANAC LAKE – The seemingly nonstop rainfall that started last week and ended Sunday evening has triggered concerns about flooding on Lake Flower.

Early Sunday morning, Doug Brownell of Gauthier’s Saranac Lake Motor Inn, which is located on the shore of Lake Flower, sent an email to village officials telling them water levels had been rising over the past week and that the lake had reached “potential flood stage.” The Enterprise was copied on the message.

“Unless you let water out at the village of Saranac Lake dam, there will be damage done to Lake Flower property owners/village of Saranac Lake infrastructure,” Brownell wrote.

Brownell said he had just been upstream at the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Lower Locks, on the Saranac River, where he said an “alarming” amount of water was being let out through the spillway. He said the village should have started adjusting the height of Lake Flower a week ago, in anticipation of the rising waters.

Village Trustee Paul Van Cott responded in a pair of subsequent emails that village staff were monitoring the situation and had already opened the gates at the Lake Flower Dam to let more water out.

Mayor Clyde Rabideau, in a statement sent to Brownell and the Enterprise, said regulating water levels on the lake is a difficult task.

“We are required by authorities to have a minimum flow over or through the dam so the lakes and riversides downriver have adequate water levels too,” he wrote. “When the water gets too low, because of this requirement, camp owners ‘up the lake’ complain because they can’t get to their camps. When extensive rains come as they have this week, the task is even more daunting.”

Rabideau said an immediate release of too much water could undermine the dam or cause damage to downstream properties. He said the process of regulating the lake level must start days before and does so under the direction of village water Superintendent Kevin Pratt.

“Invariably though, owners of buildings built too close to the average water level complain about rising levels and flooding when huge rains come as they have in the last few days,” the mayor wrote. “It’s not an exact science, but Kevin has made the art form as positive as possible, and he and the village do the best job humanly possible.”

Village officials couldn’t be reached Sunday night for any additional information on the status of the water level in the lake.

Contact Chris Knight at 518-891-2600 ext. 24 or cknight@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.