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Funding requested for Lewis County flood and stream gauge monitoring system

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LOWVILLE — Senior planner Frank J. Pace asked the Ways and Means/Building and Grounds Committee of the Lewis County Board of Legislators to support the funding of a flooding and stream-gauge monitoring system to help alert Lewis County about potential flooding situations.

Mr. Pace requested funding to replace sensors and to have a maintenance training program for the system. The cost to update the existing system is $16,647.50. Lewis County Soil and Water Conservation District will provide $4,389 of that amount, leaving $12,258.50 as the county’s responsibility. The equipment itself is $8,947.50 and the training is $7,700.

Mr. Pace said the project will train five people on maintenance and programming. The maintenance cost will be reduced to nearly nothing other than equipment replacement.

The system would aid public safety and emergency management response and will allow advance flood warnings and reduce the economic, agricultural and environmental impact of floods, Mr. Pace said.

“If you have a flood event, no one has to be at risk out trying to monitor a location through manual or visual observations. No human life would be at risk,” Mr. Pace said.

Mr. Pace said the $60,000 system now in place is not working. It has been off line since 2011, primarily for lack of maintenance funding of roughly $6,500 to $7,900 a year.

The data collected by the system will be put into an equation to give time, distance and travel. The data will supply information in advance of where the flood stages are going to be and how the public could be affected.

“I don’t want to be negative, but it went down in 11 and all of the sudden we are trying bring it up now,” said Legislator Jerry H. King, R-West Leyden. “It couldn’t have been important back then.”

County Manager Elizabeth Swearingin asked if the data collected by the system would also be displayed in the office of emergency management. Legislator Philip C. Hathway, R-Harrisville, wanted an answer to that question as well.

Mr. Pace said the data is not received by emergency management and the system, when it was operational, was not being used to its full potential.

“If in fact you have an event, Soil and Water would be part of that team and part of supplying the information that is available,” Mr. Pace said. “This software that is already in there and programing it correctly gives Soil and Water the ability to be notified if in fact there are significant changes and events.”

Mr. Pace said that the sensors will notify if there is a rise in the water level and there are alarms that will go off when water levels rise too high.

Mr. Hathway asked Mr. Pace how this system would have aided Port Leyden with its flooding. The area lost $27,000 in milk, $69,400 in feed storage, $5,000 in animals and $600 in animal bedding. These estimates were provided by Lowville Producers Dairy Cooperative and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Lewis County.

Mr. Pace said Port Leyden would not have benefited from the current system. Soil and Water has been talking with emergency managers and a wish list has been complied between the two agencies for additional locations to expand the system. Mr. Pace said funds are not available to expand the system, but if funding becomes available then they could apply for the funding.

The wish list includes five additional locations that include Port Leyden, Lyons Falls and Castorland.

Mr. Hathway asked what the entire wish list would cost. Mr. Pace said it would cost roughly $41,000, or roughly $8,000 per location.

The committee agreed to support the funding to update the current system and to wait on the expansion. It will go to the Lewis County Legislature as a resolution at the regular meeting next month.

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