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.
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.
On Tuesday, February 1st, water releases through the Ashokan Waste Channel were decreased from 140 MGD to approximately 0 MGD. The decreases were made in approximately 20 MGD increments starting at 9:00AM and completed at 4:15PM.
See the Mount Marion Stream Gage for changes to stream flow and height downstream of the Ashokan Reservoir.
Ulster County Executive Mike Hein is calling on NYC DEP to use another firm to study the turbidity impacts on Esopus Creek instead of the engineering company it has contracted in the past. More in the Daily Freeman.
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.
After dumping high-volumes of turbid water into the Lower Esopus Creek for over one hundred days, NYC DEP finally announced that it stopped dumping and started releasing clean water. Read more in the Daily Freeman
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:
Download entire Issue Brief here:
UC Esopus Brief.pdf (650.8 KiB, 472 hits)
Issue Brief from Ulster County Executive Hein on the NYC DEP Pollution of the Lower Esopus
At the working group meeting on January 14, the NYC DEP announced that it will shut of the discharges of turbid water from the Ashokan Reservoir in 30 days. If they meet the deadline they’ve set for themselves, the Esopus Creek should start to return to its normal color and clarity in mid-February. More news on this announcement in the Daily Freeman.
The NYC DEP continues to discharge turbid water from the Ashokan Reservoir without a study or review of the downstream environmental impacts. Fish and macroinvertebrates could be harmed by prolonged turbid conditions in the creek. Spider Barbour, Town of Saugerties representative to the Lower Esopus Watershed Partnership, addressed the urgency of the situation: “We need a solution as absolutely soon as possible, because I’m worried about what’s going to happen in the spring with all these fish and other animals, microorganisms and aquatic insects such as dragon flies and damsel flies, because those are important food sources for the amphibians and birds and all of these other parts of the food chain along the creeks,” he said. Read more in the Daily Freeman.
As the outcome of a meeting with LEWP on December 17, the NYC DEP announced plans to make clear water releases from the Ashokan Reservoir for downstream benefits. Mary McNamara, outreach coordinator for LEWP, commented on the historic nature of this announcement: “In the history of the Ashokan Reservoir…there have never been clear water releases for the health of the receiving water bodies.” LEWP will be part of a working group that will advise the DEP about managing reservoir releases. DEP’s announcement was encouraging news, but concerns remain over the ongoing turbid releases in the lower Esopus Creek. Read entire article in the Daily Freeman.