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By John Tucker

Tuesday Power Outage Was a Quick Fix, Residential Flooding Needs a Long-Term Solution


Village of Wellsville residents voiced concern about the most recent power outage so we asked the head of the public works department, Bill Whitfield, what happened.

” While testing, a faulty relay tripped the main breaker. We were able to fix the problem very quickly and power was restored.”

Residents should be aware that a planned outage for upgrade installations will occur in the early hours on Sunday, June 13th.

This spring has seen more village flooding than usual, especially at the base of Rauber Hill, on Williams Avenue, but also reaching properties on Cameron Street and Franklin Street. The problem is created by the volume and velocity at which water rushes down the hillside, most acutely during heavy rains. Williams Avenue Resident Roy LaFleur has approached the village and demanded a resolution.

That resolution is not an easy request. Today, in response to residents on Williams Avenue like LaFleur, the village did some short-term work to increase the flow of water. Village crews cleared out gravel, debris, and dredged out areas west of Williams Avenue in order to help water move past problem areas.

Whitfield, being the head of public works, understands the issue and can provide a range of potential solutions. In the end he explains, “the issue is a matter of money and man power, and both are limited resources.”

Currently as water moves downhill toward streets and culverts, the infrastructure in place for many years becomes overwhelmed and that water flows unmitigated. A cumulative effect takes place as the water moves toward the Genesee river, leaving many backyards and basements wet, and sometimes nearly reaching South Main Street. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but the issue has slowly digressed over time.

Erosion is the likely culprit, years of fast moving water over the existing infrastructure have taken a toll. The solution to the problem could be years away and even the short term solutions are very challenging. Whitfield explains that the village could potentially implement a fix that would, “alleviate the issue, but certainly not solve it”. That fix is an expanded water holding area above the Williams Avenue area to replace the antiquated system in place. Just to attempt that project, which could soon be ineffective if erosion continues at the current rate, would be a budget buster for the village.

The actual solution is a major undertaking and will require action both uphill and downhill. When asked what Whitfield would do with a million dollar budget that creates a long term solution, a major project comes into view: On the uphill side of the equation the answer is pretty basic engineering: Build a a series of diversion ditches that will collect and release at a manageable rate. On the downhill side of the matter, the solution seems to be a large water retention area that can hold and properly discharge of spring thaw and heavy rain waters.

Hopefully this paints a picture of the challenge this force of nature presents to both residents and government. Nothing would make Bill Whitfield and Roy LaFleur and other residents of the neighborhood happier than to have that million dollar fix in the works. Absent a miracle, Wellsville will be left to work within the ‘money and manpower’ we have available. The Department of Public Works will continue to interface with property owners and continue planning for a practical solution.

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