Tag Archives: esopus creek

DEP balks on December public forum

Yesterday, DEP stated through a spokesperson that it cannot make a public forum before year’s end, reported Adam Bosch of the Times Herald-Record. On Thursday, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein emerged from a meeting with the DEP and announced the prospect of a public forum in December to address ongoing issues with DEP operations in Ulster County. DEP said it did not agree to the abrupt timeline for the forum but is nevertheless willing to participate in a public forum. Read more…

DEC/DEP published Interim Release Protocol

In October, the DEC and DEP agreed upon an Interim Ashokan Reservoir Release Protocol (Protocol), which is available here for download.

  Interim Release Protocol (135.8 KiB, 1,617 hits)
DEC/DEP Interim Ashokan Release Protocol

  Water Quality Monitoring for Releases (68.7 KiB, 1,465 hits)
Water Quality Monitoring Plan for Release Channel Operations

The Lower Esopus Watershed Partnership, as part of the Ashokan Release Working Group, is compiling comments on the protocol from participating municipalities to provide DEC and DEP with feedback.

The protocol includes provisions for community beneficial releases, flood mitigation releases, and turbidity control releases. The interim protocol is driving recent reservoir releases as the DEP aims for a 90% Conditional Seasonal Storage Objective outlined in the protocol to create a void in the reservoir for flood mitigation and turbidity control. Since storms Irene and Lee filled the reservoir with turbid runoff, recent releases in the lower Esopus Creek have been noticeably turbid with fine colloidal clay sediment.

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:

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.

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, 1,663 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.

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.