Floodgates don’t reduce flood risk

To the editor:

Earlier this month the Enterprise reported on efforts to revise the village flood plain map created for by the Federal Emergency Management Agency 30 years ago. Plans for a 90-room resort hotel on the shore of Lake Flower cannot advance without the consent of FEMA to decrease the size of the village’s flood zone.

To support the case for decreasing the designated flood zone, engineers for the hotel’s developer argue that new flood gates installed in the Lake Flower dam in the late 1980s allow for greater discharge of lake water during flood events. Anyone who remembers 2011, when floodwaters inundated homes and businesses both above and below the dam concurrently, understands the folly of that argument: Any water that was sent through the flood gates only increased the flooding downstream. Work now underway rebuilding the flood-damaged retaining wall behind the town hall should be proof enough.

With the projected increase of major weather events like those we endured three years ago, it is hard to imagine FEMA or village officials accepting the claim that risk of flooding on Lake Flower and the Saranac River is decreasing. The argument simply does not hold water.

Mark Wilson

Saranac Lake