Potsdam continues to figure out flooding

Underground canal system in Potsdam
Underground canal system in Potsdam(Gregory Thompson)
Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 4:11 PM EDT
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POTSDAM, New York (WWNY) - One idea to help Potsdam’s flooding issues has come from local college students at Clarkson University who are studying the problem.

“The folks brought this to our attention approximately a month to a month and a half ago. We’ve been monitoring the situation up until this point,” said Gregory Thompson, village administrator.

The village is looking into recurring flooding along property on Beal, Pleasant and Waverly streets. Potsdam continues to work with professionals in the field and hasn’t ruled out the land’s elevation and grade as reasons to why the problems persist.

The flooding could also be happening because of problems underground with a canal system that runs from the High School to the Raquette River.

A short-term fix, Thompson says, could be to clear the underground canal of any buildup if sinkholes clogged parts of it with sediment. The village would use a vacuum pump, if they find this to be a problem.

“We are investigating right now possibly using what they call a hydro-vac truck, where we will open the canal in strategic places where we feel that the issues are the greatest and vacuum any sediment or debris out of the canal itself,” he said.

It’s part of an idea coming from students at Clarkson University.

“So the first thing that we recommended was to clear the debris as we talked about and then the second most important thing would be Canal Street as I was talking about the sinkholes and things that have been happening on Canal Street,” said Frank Uschold, Clarkson student.

That’s a possible short-term solution. The longer-term answer is much more expansive and expensive.

“We’ve had estimates of approximately $15 million to fix the canal. Obviously, we just can’t write a check for that. We’re going to have to try and get funding for it. But, in the meantime I think there are a lot of affordable steps that we can take including the vac-truck, including the opening of the mouth of the canal with an excavator to allow for the water to freely leave the village and into the Raquette River,” said Thompson.