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Below The Surface

Thursday, April 28, 2011

ECHO is getting closer to the Lake

If you work or live on the shores of Lake Champlain you are getting closer to the lake -- uncomfortably close for many. Today Lake Champlain surpassed all records official--April 27, 1993 of 101.86 feet above sea level in Burlington and unofficial, 102.1 feet set back in May 4, 1869 recorded at Rouses Point, N.Y. At 2:45p.m. today the USGS Lake Champlain gauge at ECHO recorded 102.18 feet.

ECHO sits on the shore of the largest bathtub or basin in the region—with a total area of 8,234 square miles—from the tops of the Green Mountains to the east, to the western reaches of the Adirondack Mountains. When rain, snow, sleets or hail falls in the basin, much of the water travels down to Lake Champlain—this year causing record breaking flooding.

I’ve worked on the waterfront since 1995 and I’ve experienced my share of floods—I’ve even filled a sand bag or two— ­but nothing like this. The Lake is claiming waterfront parking lots, cars, homes, businesses, playgrounds, bike paths, and anything that was built below record high water. If it isn’t the heavy rain, record breaking snow melt, or ground saturation, it’s the driving wind that adds to the damaging affects of the rising water.

ECHO is surrounded by a steel retaining wall that usually holds back most of the water, but today the wind is driving the waves up and over this first line of defense. ECHO has a backup plan to defend against the rising water, elevation. Thanks to the great foresight of a team of architects, engineers and community members, ECHO was designed with this type of flooding in mind. ECHO’s foundation was built in 2003 at 105 feet above sea level. Let’s hope that this will be high enough to weather the next couple of days or…

Photos: (right) ECHO roof top Lake view, Julie Silverman/ECHO (c); (left) Lake Champlain Transportation and Champ, Julie Silverman/ECHO(c)

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