The Office of the Ulster County Executive issued the following press release regarding NYC DEP’s plan to initiate three weeks of releases into Esopus Creek:
ULSTER COUNTY EXECUTIVE MIKE HEIN IMPLORES NYS DEC TO
HOLD NYC DEP ACCOUNTABLE FOR ITS ONGOING ENVIRONMENTALLY-DAMAGING BEHAVIOR
Kingston, NY – According to Mark Klotz, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (NYS DEC) Director of the Division of Water, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP) plans to install a new siphon at the Gilboa Dam that will replace those used during the reconstruction work on the dam that were damaged during Hurricane Irene, and dismantled. To lower the Schoharie Reservoir, NYC DEP intends to transfer water from the Schoharie Reservoir, through the Shandaken Tunnel to the Upper Esopus Creek and eventually into the Ashokan Reservoir. It is anticipated that the work will take three weeks.
Because of the expected turbidity of the water that will be transferred from the Schoharie Reservoir into the Upper Esopus Creek, NYC DEP requested that NYS DEC issue it a waiver from the water quality standards it must maintain in at the portal or entrance to the Upper Esopus Creek. It is anticipated by the NYS DEC that NYC DEP will release the maximum amount possible, which is approximately 550-600MGD, through the portal and into the Upper Esopus.
The Ashokan Reservoir is approximately 83% full, with the west basin at capacity and spilling into the east basin. Since this proposed work to the Gilboa Dam will result in a large volume of water entering the Ashokan Reservoir, the NYC DEP is also planning on releasing water from the west basin of the Ashokan Reservoir into the Lower Esopus Creek. Such an operational release is also expected to be at the maximum level of 600 mgd.
County Executive Hein stated, “This is yet another example of NYC DEP’s mismanagement outside of Ulster County negatively impacting the people of Ulster County. Over the course of the last year, Ulster County rebuilt 100% of our infrastructure damaged during Hurricane Irene. We accomplished this ahead of schedule and under budget. Yet NYC DEP, only now with the Schoharie Reservoir spilling, seeks to install a siphon capable of lowering the reservoir. Had the NYC DEP planned ahead and done this during the summer months, this would not be necessary now.
NYC DEP’s plan of action is purely operational, meaning that it is going to be accomplished for DEP’s benefit only, not the health or safety of the Lower Esopus or the people Ulster County. Better planning, which considered the needs of Ulster County’s residents and businesses along the Esopus Creek would have reduced the need for these releases. I implore the NYS DEC to hold the NYC DEP accountable for its ongoing disgraceful, environmentally-damaging behavior.”