DEP opens Ashokan waste channel today

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection announced that it will release water from the West Basin of the Ashokan Reservoir starting today for up to one week. The release is for intended for flood-control and drinking water quality. See statement from NYC DEP Deputy Commissioner Paul Rush:

March 31, 2011
No. 24

Statement from NYC Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner for
Water Supply Paul Rush On Tomorrow’s Activation of the Ashokan Waste Channel

“Following a request from the Town of Hurley, and with the agreement of the State Department of Environmental Conservation and Ulster County, DEP will activate the Ashokan Reservoir Waste Channel starting tomorrow morning for up to one week,” said Deputy Commissioner Rush. “Activating the waste channel is being undertaken in response to a snow storm expected to start tonight that will enhance the potential for higher flows due to snowmelt in the coming days. These releases will increase the reservoir’s ability to capture runoff by creating a void in the west basin of the reservoir, providing enhanced flood protection for communities south of the Ashokan Reservoir along the lower Esopus Creek. This will also provide an additional benefit of protecting water quality by reducing the amount and likelihood of spillage from the more turbid west basin into the higher quality east basin, thereby protecting the drinking water of approximately 8 million New York City residents and the roughly 160,000 residents of towns that rely on the Catskill Aqueduct such as New Paltz and High Falls in Ulster County, and New Windsor and Cornwall in Orange County.”

The latest information from the National Weather Service on the coming storm indicates that the reservoir could spill, increasing the potential for flooding in the lower Esopus. The action agreed to today will release up to 600 million gallons per day from the Ashokan Reservoir for the next week, depending on existing flows in the lower Esopus Creek. These releases will be discontinued if the stream gage on the lower Esopus Creek located at Mt. Marion is within one foot of flood action stage (18 feet) and the National Weather Service forecasts potential flooding.

The waste channel is a concrete canal used to convey water released in a controlled manner from the reservoir through the upper and lower gate chambers to the Little Beaverkill stream and the lower Esopus Creek. Located in Ulster County, the Ashokan Reservoir is approximately 13 miles west of Kingston and 73 miles north of New York City. It was formed by the damming of the Esopus Creek, which eventually flows northeast and drains into the Hudson River. The reservoir holds 127.9 billion gallons at full capacity and was opened in 1915.

DEP manages the city’s water supply, providing more than 1 billion gallons of water each day to more than 9 million residents, including 8 million in New York City, and residents of Ulster, Orange, Putnam and Westchester counties. New York City’s water is delivered from the Catskill, Delaware, and Croton watersheds that extend more than 125 miles from the City, and comprises 19 reservoirs, and three controlled lakes. For more information, visit or follow us on Facebook at

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