(Host) Springfield is one of the very few towns along the Black River that didn’t suffer severe water damage from Irene’s heavy rains over the weekend. One local official says that’s because the North Springfield Lake and flood control dam did the job it was designed to do. It caught and contained the deluge.
The dam is located just north of town and it’s operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Tom Snow is the project manager, responsible for on-site operations.
He says that at one point on Sunday, water was flowing into the lake at a volume about 5 times greater than the channel below the lake could have accommodated. Without the regulating effect of the dam, this would likely have caused significant damage downstream.
(Tom Snow) "Every bit of this water, which is from 154 square miles – every bit of that water that comes through the dam would be going down through Springfield, through the middle of town, right over the Plaza, right down through River Street, everything between the dam here and the Connecticut River within quite a wide swath would be affected."
(Host) Because of the dam, that didn’t happen. And Snow credits the dam system with helping to manage the flow of water beyond Springfield as well.
(Snow) "It’s also helped on the Connecticut River because all the dams in the upper Connecticut River basin help to limit the damage to the Connecticut River itself. So it helps even Connecticut and Massachusetts a little bit also."
(Host) Snow says the lake is near its record level, but he hopes it will start dropping soon.