By JIMMY LAWTON
OGDENSBURG – An Ogdensburg man is calling on the city to stop dumping snow and road waste in the river.
“This is what you are putting in the river,” Robert Flavin, a member of the St. Lawrence Walleye Association, said when he presented a murky jar of melted snow taken from a roadside bank to the city council Thursday.
Flavin said the sample reeked of fuel and was clearly bad for the river.
City councilor Dan Skamperle said he has fielded a lot of calls from angry residents and members of local sportsmen’s clubs, who complain that the dumping is harmful to the fish population.
“Personally I’m against it,” Skamperle said.
Skamperle said his main concern was putting additional chemicals in the river.
Interim DPW director Gregg Harland said city workers are minimizing the amount of snow being dumped into the Oswegatchie, but space for snow storage is limited.
“We opened up Diamond National and that’s filling up quick. I don’t ever remember snowing this much snow on dry land,” Harland said.
Harland said the policy of dumping excess snow in the river is not new and that only about five loads of road waste have been dumped by the city in the past few weeks. But city workers are not the only people removing snow, or dumping in the river.
Deputy Mayor Mike Morley said private contractors are also dumping snow in the river, adding that monitoring that activity would be difficult.
Councilor Jennifer Stevenson asked if there were other places snow could be stored.
Harland said there are a few small spaces that could be filled, but they wouldn’t hold much snow.
Mayor William Nelson said the problem is worse than usual this year because the snow isn’t melting.
“It’s been an extraordinary winter,” he said. “I think these guys are doing a great job.”
Although no formal action was taken Harland said the dumping in the river would continue to be used as a last resort.