Public input sought for impact assessment

Impact Assessment Questionnaire Now Available For Public Input.

Kingston, NY- The Ashokan Release Working Group announced today the availability of an Impact Assessment Questionnaire for residents and businesses along the Lower Esopus. The Questionnaire was developed to gather information about impacts or changes that individuals observed or experienced along the stream that they believed may be related to releases of turbid water from the Ashokan Reservoir that occurred from October 7, 2010 through February 1, 2011. The questionnaire may be filled out on-line by visiting the Working Group’s website at http://ashokanrwg.org. Paper copies will be mailed to property owners along the creek and are available at the town and village halls along the lower Esopus and at the Ulster County Department of the Environment, 17 Pearl Street PO Box 1800, Kingston, NY 12402. Questions regarding the content of the questionnaire can be referred to the Ulster County Department of the Environment at 845-338-7287.

The Ashokan Release Working Group, formed in January over concerns about water releases from the Ashokan Reservoir, will use the information gathered from these questionnaires as part of the assessment of the impacts of this past release and to help inform decisions regarding potential future releases. The Working Group urges land owners and others who have observed or experienced impacts to complete the questionnaire. Paper copies should be returned to the Ashokan Release Working Group care of Ulster County Department of the Environment, 17 Pearl Street PO Box 1800, Kingston, NY 12402 by May 31, 2011.

The Ashokan Release Working Group consists of representatives from the Ashokan Foundation, City of Kingston, County of Ulster, Esopus Creek Conservancy, Lower Esopus Watershed Partnership, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, New York Public Interest Research Group, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Department of Health, RCAP Solutions, Riverkeeper, Towns of Hurley, Marbletown, Olive, Saugerties and Ulster, United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Village of Saugerties. One of the goals of the Working Group is to assist with the development, implementation and review of an assessment of ecological, physical and economic impacts of the releases.

Ashokan Release Working Group Mission:
The Ashokan Release Working Group (ARWG) will, through a collaborative consensus building process:
·Assist with the development, implementation and review of an assessment of ecological, physical and economic impacts of the releases that occurred from October 7, 2010 through February 1, 2011.
·Develop a protocol for, and ongoing monitoring and evaluation of, releases from the Ashokan Reservoir to advance the protection and improvement of water quantity and quality and provide flood hazard reduction benefits of the lower Esopus Creek.
·Ensure the release protocol is protective of the ecological, physical and economic interests of the lower Esopus and its adjoining communities while remaining protective of the NYC water supply

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:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
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 www.nyc.gov/dep or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nycwater.

Flood-mitigation release announced for Ashokan

Statement from NYS Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens and NYC Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway On Today’s Activation of the Ashokan Waste Channel

“Earlier today, after close consultation with and agreement from Ulster County, the State Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York State Department of Health, and the Environmental Protection Agency, DEP activated the Ashokan Reservoir Waste Channel for up to one week,” said Commissioner Holloway. “Activating the waste channel will increase the reservoir’s ability to capture runoff from intense storms by creating a void in the west basin of the reservoir ahead of tonight’s forecasted storm, providing enhanced flood protection for communities south of the Ashokan Reservoir along the lower Esopus Creek. This action, which reduces the amount of spillage from the more turbid west basin into the higher quality east basin, will also help protect the drinking water of approximately 160,000 residents of towns that rely on the Catskill Aqueduct such as New Paltz and High Falls in Ulster County; New Windsor and Cornwall in Orange County; several towns in Westchester County, including Yorktown and Ossining; as well as the residents of New York City.”

“We concur that activation of the Ashokan diversion channel is appropriate at this time to limit adverse flooding in communities along the Lower Esopus Creek and reduce turbidity in water flowing toward the New York City drinking water system,” said Joe Martens, DEC Commissioner. “Flood ‘action levels’ in the Lower Esopus will be actively monitored and adjustments to the diversion channel output will be made as needed.”

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. This is the first activation of the Ashokan Reservoir release since February 1, 2011.

DEP reopens Ashokan waste channel

For the first time since closing the Ashokan waste channel in February, the NYC DEP is reopening the waste channel to make a void in the West Basin to capture anticipated stormwater runoff. See statement from NYS DEC and NYC DEP below.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 11-17
March 9, 2011
Contact:
Farrell Sklerov / Michael Saucier (718) 595-6600 Michael Bopp (518) 402-8000

Statement from NYS Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens and NYC Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway On Today’s Activation of the Ashokan Waste Channel

“Earlier today, after close consultation with and agreement from Ulster County, the State Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York State Department of Health, and the Environmental Protection Agency, DEP activated the Ashokan Reservoir Waste Channel for up to one week,” said Commissioner Holloway. “Activating the waste channel will increase the reservoir’s ability to capture runoff from intense storms by creating a void in the west basin of the reservoir ahead of tonight’s forecasted storm, providing enhanced flood protection for communities south of the Ashokan Reservoir along the lower Esopus Creek. This action, which reduces the amount of spillage from the more turbid west basin into the higher quality east basin, will also help protect the drinking water of approximately 160,000 residents of towns that rely on the Catskill Aqueduct such as New Paltz and High Falls in Ulster County; New Windsor and Cornwall in Orange County; several towns in Westchester County, including Yorktown and Ossining; as well as the residents of New York City.”

“We concur that activation of the Ashokan diversion channel is appropriate at this time to limit adverse flooding in communities along the Lower Esopus Creek and reduce turbidity in water flowing toward the New York City drinking water system,” said Joe Martens, DEC Commissioner. “Flood ‘action levels’ in the Lower Esopus will be actively monitored and adjustments to the diversion channel output will be made as needed.”

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. This is the first activation of the Ashokan Reservoir release since February 1, 2011.

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 www.nyc.gov/dep or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nycwater.

DEC action against DEP

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation filed a Notice of Hearing and Complaint against the New York City Department of Environmental Protection citing unauthorized use of the Ashokan Waste Channel and failure to comply with its Catalum SPDES Permit. The DEC seeks $2.6 million in civil penalties from the DEP and an independent study of the impacts from turbid releases to the Lower Esopus. The DEC is also requiring an operating plan and parameters for use of the Waste Channel for the “beneficial interest” such as flood control for downstream communities. The entire complaint is available for download as PDF:

  Ashokan Complaint (3.8 MiB, 1,603 hits)
Notice of Hearing and Complaint issued by DEC against the NYC DEP

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.