Saratoga County

Drainage problems blamed for chronic flooding along Saratoga Lake

It could cost as much as $2 million to fix long-standing drainage problems in low-lying residential

It could cost as much as $2 million to fix long-standing drainage problems in low-lying residential areas on the western shores of Saratoga Lake, according to Malta town engineers.

The money would be needed to install a stormwater collection system large enough to alleviate chronic minor flooding in the Riley Cove and Silver Beach areas, according to a report by The Chazen Cos.

Many of the drainage pipes and ditches in the area are undersized or in poor condition, Chazen found.

“The systems are not adequately sized for conveying stormwater runoff,” Chazen Vice President for Engineering Services Joseph Lanaro told the Town Board on Monday.

Road and property flooding after storms are frequent complaints from residents in those areas, where seasonal camps were laid out as long as a century ago. Many of those camps have in recent decades been replaced by or converted into year-round homes, but the small building lots, narrow private roads and rudimentary drainage systems remain the same as in the early 20th century.

Chazen was hired by the town in April to study the situation, after Riley Cove residents petitioned the Town Board to evaluate the feasibility of forming a drainage district. The study found flooding is being caused by inadequate drainage infrastructure, including old pipes.

“They’re very, very old,” Lanaro said, “very antiquated, Some have been better maintained by homeowners than others.”

Lanaro said area drainage systems generally should be sized to handle a 10-year to 25-year record storm event, and the current drainage infrastructure isn’t.

A drainage district would be a mechanism for roughly 100 affected property owners to borrow the money needed to pay for drainage improvements. How the debt would be apportioned among property owners remains undetermined. Under one method suggested by Chazen, most residential lot owners would pay $300 to $500 per year, but owners of large parcels might pay considerably more.

A drainage district would be operated and managed by the town. Lanaro said such districts are rare upstate.

The Town Board will begin a more detailed exploration of the idea at a July 15 workshop. There are tentative plans for a public workshop July 31.

While the age and small size of drainage pipes and ditches is part of the problem causing localized flooding, Lanaro also noted there are beaver dams on nearby Drummond Creek. Those dams cause blockages during storms that also send water into the neighborhoods, he said.

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