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Croghan dam wins grant

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State environment officials won't remove stop logs from the village of Croghan's historic dam - at least for now. As David Sommerstein reports, the delay comes as Croghan won a $100,000 grant to begin rebuilding the dam.

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Reported by

David Sommerstein
Reporter/ Producer

The Department of Environmental Conservation put off plans to remove the stop logs from the crumbling dam on the Beaver River last Thursday when State Senator Joe Griffo and Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush intervened. They were responding to local officials’ concerns that lowering the reservoir could hamper firefighting efforts in the winter.

“If the channel is too narrow and murky and muddy to be able to pump water out of for fire protection, we’re in real trouble,” said Glen Gagnier, former mayor of Croghan and a member of the Lewis County Development Corporation. 

Gagnier has led an effort to rehabilitate the dam, which could help save the pond behind it and the historic sawmill that uses its head to power its waterwheel.

Gagnier said he heard this week that his group’s $100,000 grant request was accepted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture: “This is absolutely what we needed.”

Gagnier said a rebuilt dam could help Croghan’s economy by providing hydropower that could be sold onto the grid through net metering legislation that’s been proposed by the Cuomo administration. 

Gagnier said the grant money will allow the community to move forward on a study to design a new dam. The study will “bore into the bedrock, find out how solid the bedrock is. Bore into the dam itself, hydraulic analysis of the dam. It’ll provide us exactly what the New York State DEC is looking for a design study for the dam,” Gagnier said.

The DEC supports Croghan’s effort to rebuild the dam and Spokesman Steve Litwiler said removing the stop logs would not hurt the rehabilitation efforts.

“Removing those boards is a reversible interim safety measure,” Litwiler said. “Nothing has really changed from DEC’s perspective. It’s still a high risk dam.”

Litwiler said the DEC has agreed to meet with local officials on-site to determine whether there would be enough water to fight fires if the stop logs were removed.

David Sommerstein, North Country Public Radio.

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