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Ogdensburg DPW defends snow dumping practices

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Ogdensburg’s practice of occasionally dumping snow removed from city streets directly into the Oswegatchie River came under fire at Thursday’s City Council meeting with officials describing it as a poor but necessary solution.

Snow mixed with sand and salt and anything else collected by city plows is dumped on the riverbank behind the Algonquin power dam, near where the Oswegatchie meets the St. Lawrence, when the city has exhausted other locations, Department of Public Works Supervisor Gregg E. Harland said.

But Robert G. Flavin, a resident of the city, said he remains “concerned that it is going into the river,” referring to the mixture of snow and salt.

Mr. Flavin brought a jar of gray water to Thursday’s meeting and showed it to City Council describing it as the melted aftermath of an ounce of snow picked up from the side of the road.

“This should be stopped,” he said, asking for the city to dump the snow somewhere else besides the river to prevent the sludge from reaching the water.

City Councilor Daniel E. Skamperle said he has also been hearing complaints about the dumping, especially from ice fishers who are bringing up augers loaded with sand.

“I’d like [the city] to quit doing it,” he said. “Personally I’m against it.”

City Manager John M. Pinkerton said the city is working to find better places to put the snow but it’s a challenge.

Mr. Harland said they only use the river as a last resort. “We’re trying to use the parking lots as much as we can.”

Last month Michael R. Twiss, biologist and director of the Great Rivers Center, said the practice could negatively impact walleye spawning grounds but Stephen W. Litwhiler, spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said the practice doesn’t violate DEC regulations.

No action was taken on the issue and Mr. Harland said they are working to avoid using the location whenever possible.

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