Spring thaw brings about the usual problems, officials say

PLATTSBURGH - The spring thaw has brought flooding across the region and it's something local highway department and public works crews are used to seeing on an annual basis.

In the town of Plattsburgh, homes in a housing development on Cumberland Head fell victim to flooding last week after Lake Champlain rose at such a high rate debris washed into the end of a drainage pipe to the development.

"We just got that all cleaned up nice. It took about two hours," said James Woods, the town's deputy highway superintendent.

The town's drainage systems are working well, said Woods, even though the amounts of snow this year were high and melted quickly. Woods said Plattsburgh didn't have any unusual flooding at all.

"Because of the snow and it hanging on, we are about a month behind on cleaning up the sand on roads," said Woods, adding last year, road cleanup started March 16.

While flooding has not yet become an overtime issue, the snow removal this year due to the large amounts of snow, has doubled overtime and the crew has used 600 more loads of sand than last year.

Mike Farrell, highway superintendent in the town of Peru, said water runoff continues to be a problem  every year, but is nothing out of the ordinary this year.

Though town crews are behind in spring clean-up as well, Farrell said the town is also starting to sweep its roads this month instead of March.

"That takes a couple of weeks," he said.

Soil erosion is a bigger problem this year, more than other years, according to Joe Wetzstein, soil and water conservationist for Clinton and Essex counties.

"The spring runoff this year has effected erosion, it has been larger than usual," said Wetzstein.

The more water there is, the more soil erosion can be seen, explained Wetzstein.

"Rivers and streams swell, sometimes they break over their banks. Any unprotected area, bare dirt unprotected by vegetation that encounters enough water flow will erode," he said.

Nancy LeeDestiny is a student correspondent for DentonPublications.She may be reached at intern@denpubs.com.

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