Several local rivers that are prone to ice jam-related flooding will be part of a state study to look at ways to lessen flood problems when massive ice chunks move in the winter and spring.
The Hudson, Mettawee, Boquet, Ausable and Indian (Granville) rivers were among 48 around the state that will be part of the $3 million study being undertaken by contractors hired by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and state Office of General Services. The stretch of the Hudson near the Route 418 bridge, which flooded in January and caused significant damage in Thurman, was listed.
The office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the effort Monday, saying that studies of the rivers will use “advanced modeling techniques and field assessments” to identify projects that can be undertaken to reduce the chances of flooding from ice jams.
Ice that forms on the rivers each winter moves downstream during thaws and rain, resulting in ice buildup at narrow areas, bridges and other “choke points” in riverbeds. Ice then blocks water, causing it to back up and flood.
“High-priority” watersheds were selected based on several factors, such as frequency and severity of flooding and ice jams, extent of previous flood damage and susceptibility to future flooding and ice jam formations, according to the governor’s office.
Calling the program “Resilient NY,” the flood studies will identify the causes of flooding within each watershed and develop, evaluate and recommend effective and ecologically sustainable flood and ice-jam hazard mitigation projects. The work will be performed in conjunction with local municipalities.
Proposed flood mitigation projects will be identified and evaluated using hydrologic and hydraulic modeling to determine flood mitigation measures that will work best. In addition, the flood mitigation studies will incorporate the latest climate change forecasts and assess ice jam hazards where jams have been identified as a threat to public health and safety, according to the governor’s office.
Glen Gosnell, Washington County’s director of public safety, said the Mettawee and Indian rivers are good candidates for improvements. Both have caused significant damage in Granville during spring and winter thaws. Both rivers originate in uphill areas of western Vermont and pick up speed as they flow west into New York.
While the Indian River is small, it does have a history of flooding in the town and village of Granville, Gosnell said.
Warren County Emergency Services Coordinator Brian LaFlure said it was unclear what kind of impact the funding would have for the Hudson, as it wasn’t specified how much of it would go toward looking at the Hudson River section that has been a problem on and off for years.
Flooding last January closed the Route 418 bridge for nearly two weeks, severely damaging numerous roads and flooding homes and a campground in Thurman.