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DEP organizing a technical committee for future releases

As a part of its obligation to assess impacts from recent turbid releases and its promise to conduct clear water releases in the future, NYC DEP announced that it is organizing a technical committee within the existing Ashokan Releasee Working Group to focus on these issues. This committee will be given the tasks of developing release protocols and impact assessments for operation of the Ashokan Waste Channel. John Vickers of the DEP made the announcement at the recent LEWP Informational Seminar in Saugerties. Bill Kimble of the Daily Freeman reported on the meeting and the announcement. The technical committee will include DEP personnel and representatives from downstream municipalities, LEWP, Ulster County, Riverkeeper, Hudsonia, NYPIRG, Ashokan Foundation, Federated Sportsman of Ulster County, NYS DEC, US EPA, and NYS DOH.

LEWP hosted public information forums on turbidity

On Thursday evening, February 10th, the local press and area residents attended an informational seminar hosted by the Lower Esopus Watershed Partnership and the Town & Village of Saugerties. Formal powerpoint presentations were made by representatives of LEWP, Ulster County, and DEP. A representative of the DEC was also present to answer questions as part of a panel. In the audience were elected officials including Mayor Bill Murphy of Saugerties, Town Supervisor Greg Helmoortel and a staff member from the office of Assemblyman Pete Lopez. Residents who owned property or businesses along the creek ask questions and expressed their concerns about the prolonged turbid releases from the Ashokan Reservoir. The Daily Freeman reported on the meeting. This was the second informational seminar this week focusing on creek turbidity issues. The first was held on Tuesday, February 8th at Town Hall in the Town of Ulster.

DEP posted results of follow-up water testing

After concluding three days of clear water flushing of the Lower Esopus Creek, DEP collected water samples at three sites long the creek: the waste channel, Marbletown Recreation Park, and Saugerties Village Beach. The samples were tested for turbidity, suspended solids, pH and conductivity to compare with samples collected during turbid water releases. Review water sampling results and read a statement from Commissioner Cas Halloway in DEP Press Release.

Ice may move when lower flows begin

Ice on the creek that has formed over a high volume flow might be going through some adjustments when lower flows begin.

Beginning at 1pm on Friday January 28, 2011, the high-volume flows from the Ashokan Release Channel switched from the turbid West Basin to begin releasing cleaner water from the East Basin. This will continue for three days to help flush out turbidity from the Lower Esopus Creek, after which lower flows are expected. As water levels drop, the creek ice is expected to readjust, which may cause cracking and ice instability.

The clear water flush of the creek is a short term solution, but it is a first step to having clean water releases for stream health. This will need to be followed up with monitoring to understanding the harm done to the Lower Esopus Creek and downstream communities by the prolonged, high-concentration turbid water releases from the West Basin of the Ashokan Reservoir.

See NYC DEP press release: Statement from NYC Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway On End of Turbid Water Releases from the Ashokan Reservoir.

Ulster County Exec shares views on DEP pollution

Ulster County Executive Michael Hein’s office released an Issue Brief which outlines the County Executive’s position on NYC DEP’s pollution of the Lower Esopus. The Brief provides a helpful summary of the turbidity issue and a course of action to correct the issue. In the Brief, the County Exec insists that the NYC DEP must:

  • Stop releases immediately.
  • Develop clear water flood mitigation strategies.
  • Rescind all decisions that led to the strategy of sending polluted water down the Esopus.
  • Conduct studies involving all parties and consider all alternatives.
  • Institute low-flow releases in accordance with New York State law.
  • Download entire Issue Brief here:

      UC Esopus Brief.pdf (650.8 KiB, 863 hits)
    Issue Brief from Ulster County Executive Hein on the NYC DEP Pollution of the Lower Esopus