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Officials to meet with Brookfield to discuss flooding concerns

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BRASHER FALLS — Representatives from local townships, including Brasher, will meet with Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners on Tuesday in Potsdam to share their concerns about the potential for flooding caused by the spring thaw.

“It has to do with planning for when the ice breaks up in the river and comes down. We’ve had problems here in Brasher. It could affect residents here. I think last year the ice was right up under the bridge. That was one of the reasons for the meeting on the 25th,” Brasher Deputy Supervisor William D. Demo said.

St. Lawrence County Legislators Jason A. Clark, D-Norfolk, and Anthony J. Arquiett, D-Brasher Falls, also will attend, along with representatives from the towns of Brasher, Potsdam and Norfolk.

“Our superintendent of highways (Larry P. Hewlett) and (Councilman) Mark Peets will be going,” Mr. Demo said.

Mr. Peets has been working on hazard mitigation plans for three areas of concern in Brasher. Among them is ice jamming and flooding on the St. Regis River.

He recently told the council that ice jams caused a backup of water in three out of 10 years. That water backup has flooded the Riverside Campground and several homes on the Congress Street Extension, Mr. Peets said.

Conditions three years ago along the Raquette River caused flooding in Colton and Potsdam and threatened bridges in Norfolk and Brasher Falls. On Jan. 14, the Wanakena footbridge was mangled by slabs of drifting ice and eventually was destroyed. Chunks of ice damaged the bridge’s foundation and twisted it, causing the 1902 structure’s demise.

Tuesday’s meeting was set up by Mr. Clark, who wrote a letter to Brookfield Renewable in February. The letter, which was signed by him, Mr. Arquiett, Legislator James A. Bunstone, D-Potsdam, Norfolk Town Supervisor Charles A. Pernice, Brasher Town Supervisor M. James Dawson and Potsdam Town Supervisor Marie C. Regan, shared their concerns about damming conditions along the Raquette and St. Regis rivers.

Mr. Clark said in the letter that the large snow and ice accumulation this winter had created damming along the Raquette that could pose threats to private property and public infrastructure.

“I approached them at the same time I sent the letter,” Mr. Clark said. “We just want to sit down with them and discuss our concerns, understand their process and understand how they may adjust their process this year because there is such a measurable volume of water compared to previous years. They’ve been very good to work with so far.”

He said Brookfield representatives are putting together a presentation that will explain their process, and then there will be time for questions and answers.

Although winter is still in full force in the area, Mr. Clark said, the company wants to be ready when the spring thaw arrives.

“Hopefully we start the thaw here before too much longer. The concern is, once it does start to thaw, there is going to be a lot of volume very quickly,” he said.

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