DEP was close to achieving the 90% storage objective last week before recent rains delayed achieving the objective. At 90.1% before recent rainfall, the Ashokan Reservoir was at 92.1% today. Once the storage objective is achieved, the DEP will adjust the release flow rate to sustain that objective, which will depend on inflow into the reservoir, snowpack snow water equivalent and the diversion to the Catskill Aqueduct. DEP is still releasing 600 MGD into the lower Esopus Creek, diverting 300 MGD into the Catskill Aquaduct, and treating the Catskill water with Alum at the Kensico Reservoir. The latest water quality report measured the turbidity level from the release channel at 120 NTUs. Turbidity was 130 to 140 NTUs throughout the reservoir’s West Basin and 33 NTUs in the East Basin. At Saugerties Beach, turbidity was 110 NTUs. Upstream of the reservoir, the Esopus Creek was 15 NTUs.
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, 950 hits)
DEC/DEP Interim Ashokan Release Protocol
Water Quality Monitoring for Releases (68.7 KiB, 861 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.
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, 1,172 hits)
Notice of Hearing and Complaint issued by DEC against the NYC DEP
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.