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Comment period and public meeting for Ashokan turbidity study

The Draft Scope for the modification of the CATALUM SPDES permit environmental impact statement is available for review at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/79771.html

The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will evaluate the potential for significant adverse environmental impacts to occur from implementation of the turbidity control measures proposed to be incorporated into the Catalum SPDES Permit (Turbidity Control Measures).

Written comments on the draft scope will be accepted until the close of business on July 8, 2014. Public scoping session will be held in Ulster County at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on May 12, 2014 at the Ulster County Community College Student Lounge, 491 Cottekill Road, Stone Ridge, New York.

Comments can be delivered by hand, or sent by regular mail, commercial delivery service, fax transmittal or email, to the following contact person: Stephen Tomasik, NYSDEC – Division of Environmental Permits, 625 Broadway, 4th Floor, Albany, NY 12233-1750, Phone: (518) 486-9955. Email comments can be accepted at: Ashokan@gw.dec.state.ny.us

DEP & USGS announce installation of stream gauge at Lomontville

DEP PRESS RELEASE:
Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Geological Survey Announce Installation of New Stream Gauge in Lower Esopus at Lomontville

Gauge in Lower Esopus Creek Will Provide Important Data for Future Stream Projects

Data on Flow and Turbidity is Viewable on USGS Website

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) today announced that a new stream gauge was installed this month along the lower Esopus Creek at Lomontville, roughly 6 miles below Ashokan Reservoir. The gauge will provide flow and turbidity data, which will be posted in near-real time to the USGS and DEP websites. As part of the installation project, the ability to measure turbidity was also added to an existing gauge further downstream in Mount Marion, and that data will also be posted on the USGS and DEP websites.

The Lomontville gauge was among the terms of a consent order signed in late September by DEP and the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The order required the gauge at Lomontville to be installed within a year. The City and USGS installed it within roughly six weeks. The new stream gauge is part of a national network – including roughly 40 gauges throughout the Catskills – that constantly gathers scientific data to better understand the hydrology of local streams. The gauges also help forecast stream flows, which enhanced an important flood-warning network that protects life and property across the region.

“Scientific data collected by the new gauge will help stakeholders along the lower Esopus better understand how the creek reacts to normal flows and extreme storms, including the resulting fluctuations in turbidity at different points along the creek,” DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland said. “The gauge will also provide valuable information when water is released from Ashokan Reservoir to help ecology and support recreation, enhance flood protection ahead of large storms, and protect the water supply. That information will be easily accessible to the public, underscoring DEP’s commitment to be transparent about all its operations in the Catskills and Hudson Valley.”

“Data from the Lomontville stream gauge will provide critical information to better understand the water resources and suspended sediment transport in the Lower Esopus Watershed,” said Ward Freeman, Director of the New York Water Science Center for USGS. “This will be part of a network of almost 8,000 USGS stream gauges across the nation used by water-resource professionals to better manage and protect the resource. This stream gauge will also provide supplemental data useful in National Weather Service River forecast operations at the Mt. Marion forecast point downstream.”

The long-term data provided by the stream gauge will help in the development of a stream management plan for the creek and will enhance the environmental review that is about to begin. DEP has committed to fund the development of the plan, as well as provide $2 million for stream projects to improve the flow and the banks of the lower Esopus. Understanding the flow of the creek will help with the design of those stream projects. The gauge will also complement DEP’s weekly water-quality monitoring of two other sites along the lower Esopus – just above the Sawkill Creek and at the Saugerties Beach – that provide important data about creek conditions downstream of the reservoir.

Online data from the Lomontville gauge can be accessed by clicking here. Data from the gauge in Mount Marion can be found by clicking here.

DOH extends comment period to November 15th

The New York State Department of Health extended the public comment period until November 15th for draft mid-term revisions of the 2007 Filtration Avoidance Determination for New York City. The document covers the Catskill Turbidity Control program, which includes use of the Ashokan release channel to discharge water into the lower Esopus Creek. The draft revised FAD is available for review on the DOH website: http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/water/drinking/nycfad/docs/mid_term_revisions_nyc_2007fad_review.pdf

Ulster County’s Creek Week events planned for Esopus Creek

Kayak Tour of the Tidal Lower Esopus
9/14 11AM; Saugerties
Riverkeeper and the Lower Esopus Watershed Partnership are hosting a kayak tour of the tidal Lower Esopus in Saugerties to share information about the natural history and environmental issues facing the creek. Tour guides include Riverkeeper’s Kate Hudson, and Lower Esopus Watershed Partnership’s Mary McNamara. The tour will include the tidal Lower Esopus creek, and lunch on the grounds of the Saugerties Lighthouse (note: the lighthouse will not be open to the public that day). The tour is suitable for those who have experience in a kayak. Participants may bring their own kayak or canoe, or rent one from I Paddle New York. Space is limited. RSVP required to Dan Shapley at dshapley@riverkeeper.org. Pack a lunch, water and sun protection. Meet at Tina Chorvas Park in Saugerties, NY.

Kayak Tour, Esopus Bend Nature Preserve
9/21 9AM; Saugerties
Esopus Creek Conservancy is sponsoring a guided kayak and canoe tour of Esopus Bend Nature Preserve in conjunction with the annual Ulster County Creek Week. Participants will paddle the tranquil waters of the Esopus Creek above the dam in Saugerties, visiting the coves and wetlands of Esopus Bend Nature Preserve, and the shoreline to the south. Meet 9AM. at the Saugerties Village Beach parking lot on Rte. 9W, just north of the Esopus Creek bridge, at the foot of Partition Street in the Village of Saugerties. Participants will put-in at the beach. Bring your own kayak or canoe. All participants MUST wear a personal floatation device (life vest). Rain or thunderstorms will cancel the paddle. Children are welcome and encouraged if accompanied by a responsible adult, but please do not bring pets. Pre-registration is required. This ECC Environmental Education paddle is free and open to the public, but limited to a maximum of ten watercraft. For additional information about upcoming ECC Nature Walks and Paddles, please visit www.esopuscreekconservancy.org. Contact the paddle leader, Steve Hart (kayak642000@yahoo.com) to register, or for additional information.

Kids Fishing Day at the Ashokan Reservoir
9/22 9AM – 2PM; Ashokan Reservoir in West Hurley
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection and state Department of Environmental Conservation will host a fishing event for children and their parents. Poles and bait will be supplied, but feel free to bring your own. As part of the state’s “I Fish NY Program,” the New York State fishing license requirement is waived for adults who want to fish during this event. Come and relax, bond with your children, and enjoy the beautiful scenery and fantastic fishing the Ashokan Reservoir has to offer! DEP and DEC staff will be available to teach participants how to fish and assist as needed. If adults don’t have a free DEP Access Permit, applications will be available at the event or they can be obtained online anytime at:http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/recreation/access.shtml. The free event will be held at the Woodstock Dike on the Ashokan Reservoir. A parking lot is located on a gravel road off Route 28, just east of the West Hurley Post Office. For more information on the event, you may contact DEP at 845-340-7873.

See full listing of Ulster County’s Annual Creek Week: http://ucenvironment.org/ulster-county-creek-week/

Weekend reservoir release related to recreational whitewater event

NYC DEP increased the Ashokan Release Channel flow rate from 15MGD to 150 MGD to mitigate the impact of a NYS DEC requested whitewater release from Shandaken Tunnel Portal this weekend for an event on the upper Esopus Creek sponsored by the Kayak and Canoe Club of New York. Releasing water from the reservoir in advance and during the whitewater release from the tunnel will mitigate any potential spills from the reservoir since reservoir level is close to 100% capacity.