Category Archives: News

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:

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:

DEP & USGS announce installation of stream gauge at Lomontville

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:

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 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 Contact the paddle leader, Steve Hart ( 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: 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:

EPA adds lower Esopus to list of impaired waters

Since the NYSDEC failed to include the lower Esopus Creek on the list of impaired waters, the EPA took action to have the creek added to the list for excessive turbidity. The EPA announced its action in a letter to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation regarding Lower Esopus Creek, stating:

After considering all submissions and in accordance with the Clean Water Act
and EPA regulations and guidance, the EPA has concluded that current and available information
indicate that New York State’s narrative water quality standard for turbidity is exceeded in the Lower Esopus Creek and that 303(d) listing for this portion of the creek is therefore necessary.

The listing means that the EPA recognizes that prolonged releases of turbid water from the Ashokan Reservoir has impaired the stream and that the state must come up with remedies to address the situation. The rationale for the EPA’s listing is detailed in supporting materials which accompanied the letter, provided in PDF format here:

EPA Esopus Listing Letter
Esopus Listing Fact Sheet
Esopus Listing Response Summary

Watershed mapping workshop postposed to Jan 22nd

The exploration of and training on the Lower Esopus digital watershed sub-basin mapping tool has been pushed back 1 week.

Originally scheduled for Jan 15th, the workshop and training will now be on January 22nd, from 9am til noon.

The event is taking place at Cornell Cooperative Extension offices in the Kingston Plaza.
You are welcome to attend!

Workshop: TUESDAY, JANUARY 22nd, 9 am-12 noon

The digital sub-basin maps were created by the CCEDC GIS Lab in coordination with Hudsonia Ltd. for the Lower Esopus Watershed Partnership. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation provided funding for this project from the Environmental Protection Fund through the Hudson River Estuary Program in partnership with the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission.

Releases reduced to minimum

Now that contractors have finished installing one siphon at Gilboa Dam, DEP has decreased the diversions through the Shandaken Tunnel and is stopping the operational releases from Ashokan Reservoir that allowed for installation of the siphon. Ashokan releases are returning to the minimum community release level in accordance with the Ashokan Release Interim Protocol. The Ashokan Release Channel was gradually decreased today from 220 to approximately 10 MGD, with the last decrease at 3:00PM. The current release channel turbidity is 6.5 ntu.

The new siphon was turned on today and is capable of releasing up to 250 MGD from Schoharie Reservoir. The siphon startup was coordinated with Schoharie County and Town of Gilboa officials, NYPA, NYSDEC and the NWS. DEP will use the siphon to help prevent the reservoir from spilling, thereby allowing workers to continue the dam reconstruction in the area below a temporary notch in the spillway, including the construction of a second siphon.

Ulster County Exec comments on planned DEP releases

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:


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.”