Delaware River flow

12/9/2010 issue of The River Reporter.

UDC sees progress on water and gas

Flow letter approved; DRBC reg schedule discussed

By SANDY LONG

NARROWSBURG, NY — Following another lengthy discussion at its monthly meeting on December 2, the Upper Delaware Council (UDC) approved a revised version of its draft comment letter to the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) regarding the Flexible Flow Management Program (FFMP) set to expire in May 2011.

The letter came under consideration at the UDC’s November meeting and was sent back to the Water Use/Resource Management committee for revision. In its final form, it recommends, among other things, making more water available to increase minimum conservation release levels and provide flood mitigation; establishing a targeted river gage at Callicoon or higher on the main stem of the Delaware to ensure habitat protection; basing availability on NYC-estimated actual water consumption, rather than on a worst-case maximum-legal-NYC diversion; and repairing leaks in the NYC aqueduct system.

The UDC also supports the “White Paper” produced by the New York State Department of Conservation (DEC) and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, particularly for its increased water-release recommendations ( fish.state.pa.us/water/rivers/delaware/dela_flex_flow.pdf ). In addition, the council advocates for a “habitat bank” of water to be used for unforeseen circumstances and a simple set of minimum flow targets on the upper rivers.

Kenneth Najjar, DRBC branch manager, provided copies of that organization’s new calendar celebrating its 50th anniversary. Najjar announced that the DRBC’s highly anticipated new regulations for natural gas extraction in the river basin are slated for release this week. They became available on Thursday morning, and can be found online at www.state.nj.us/drbc/naturalgas.htm.

“DRBC has the ability to affect water use and land changes that affect water use,” said Najjar. “We’re also looking at the siting of well pads and how that affects downstream rivers, tributaries and the main stem. We are getting involved with siting criteria such that the locations of the pads respect the landscape on the basis of water quality. We’re trying to balance the management of the resource with the ability of people to use their properties. We’re not against gas drilling, but we are mandated to protect the resource.”

Public comments will be received electronically, by mail and during three public hearings in Sullivan County, NY, Lehigh ValleyPA and West TrentonNJ, with the comment period ending on March 16, 2011. The hearings will be held in February, with the dates and places yet to be announced.

“A large part of the regulations have to do with coordinating with the state programs already in place,” said Najjar. “We’re trying to reduce duplication and overlap. We’ve partnered with the National Park Service (NPS) to process the comments using an electronic system they use in the park system. Comments will be taken electronically and organized for review, which should substantially reduce the time needed.”

Upper Delaware Scenic and Recerational River NPS superintendent Sean McGuinness reported that the NPS has been working very closely with DRBC and Brigadier General Peter DeLuca, the federal representative to the DRBC, to formulate a federal agency work group to address issues related to natural gas development.

McGuinness and Sullivan County planning commissioner Luiz Aragon are planning to meet with supervisors from towns in the river corridor to discuss future planning efforts, possibly conducting a workshop in the beginning of 2011 to determine how the towns, county and NPS can work together most effectively.

McGuinness also met with representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers and the DEC to discuss permits being considered for projects within the river channel (bank to bank) and how they might affect the Outstandingly Remarkable Values (ORVs) under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

He added that the Zane Grey House and property in LackawaxenPA has been nominated as a National Historic Landmark on the National Register. Final approval hinges on completion of a lengthy review process.

In other matters, the nominating committee for the UDC’s 2011 slate of officers announced that it has nominated representatives Dolores Keesler (Damascus Township, PA) for chairperson, Nadia Rajsz (Town of Lumberland, NY) for vice chairman and Jack Niflot (Town of Fremont, NY) for secretary-treasurer. The final vote will be conducted at the monthly meeting on January 6.

Visit upperdelawarecouncil.org for more information or call 845/252-3022. The UDC meets on the first Thursday of the month at 7:30 p.m. at its office on Bridge Street in NarrowsburgNY. Meetings are open to the public.

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12/9/2010 Wyne Pike News.
Upper Delaware Has Flow Management Suggestions

The Upper Delaware Council has made several suggestions for improving the Flexible Flow Management Program designed to balance the needs of the prized Upper Delaware trout fisheries, salt water migration and the drinking water needs of New York City. The current agreement expires in May, and the UDC wants the Delaware River Basin Commission to make more water available for conservation and flood mitigation. One key way to do that would be to determine availability based on New York City’s consumption rather than its maximum allowable withdrawals. UDC also calls for a new flow and temperature gauge above Montague, NJ and asks that releases from Lake Wallenpaupack not be considered in the Montague flow target.

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12/13/2010 Daily Freeman.
Daily Freeman (dailyfreeman.com), Serving the Hudson Valley since 1871
News

Ashokan Reservoir water releases get state attention

Monday, December 13, 2010

By WILLIAM J. KEMBLE
Correspondent

TOWN OF ULSTER — State Department of Environmental Conservation officials will meet Tuesday with representatives of six municipalities to discuss concerns over New York City’s release of silt from the Ashokan Reservoir into the Esopus Creek.

The session was noted in a letter from state Department of Environmental Conservation Regional Director William Janeway to Lower Esopus Watershed Partnership members in the town and village of Saugerties, town of Ulster, Marbletown, Olive, and city of Kingston.

Janeway wrote that the concerns will be reviewed in advance of a Friday meeting with New York City Department of Environmental Protection officials in Kingston. He said the session is intended to address Lower Esopus Watershed Partnership concerns over the impact that releasing up to 450 million gallons of silted water has since the announcement was made by city officials, who say it is necessary to keep the turbidity from affecting the aqueduct serving 9 million customers.

“In general, the (state) department shares your concerns regarding the potential long term impact of high turbidity releases to the lower Esopus Creek of an unknown duration and acknowledges that a release strategy developed and implemented that will not create downstream problems or compromise water supply needs is desirable,” Janeway wrote. “The department also recognizes that improvements to aquatic habitat and the lower Esopus Creek’s usability could occur through a carefully planned annual flow regime including regular water releases from the Ashokan Reservoir.”

Concern among municipal leaders has been mounting since city officials announced in early October the release of silted water into the Esopus Creek.

Among the affects has that pale red mud becomes caked on docks, trees and rocks all the way to the Saugerties Lighthouse, where a plume can be seen flowing halfway into the Hudson River, with currents going both north and south. Among people upset over the release is Ulster town Councilman John Morrow, who earlier this month noted that private property owners would have faced heavy fines for offenses that pale in comparison.

“Every contractor and their brother anywhere near the creek has to put up a slit fence,” Morrow said. “They have to do this, that and the other thing and if there is even a little silt going into the creek the state (Department of Environmental Conservation) is all over us.”

Morrow said that “with New York City they just let it go. New York City can do whatever they feel like and DEC just says ‘oh well.’ There should be oversight at the state level of what New York City is doing in our county. This is nonsense.”

Janeway acknowledged the city Department of Environmental Protection has “an obligation to advance source control measures that try to prevent sediment from entering the reservoir, but better data is needed to measure the effectiveness of these efforts.”

Saugerties village Trustee Kelly Myers in October said among problems have been that the creek is filling in where it flows into the Hudson River to a point where large boats are unable to dock, farmers’ irrigation systems are clogging, and  the creek that has visually become unappealing for recreational use.

“It looks like Willy Wonka’s chocolate river out there,” she said. “It’s so thick that it’s really causing a mess.

New York City officials were not immediately available Monday for comment.

 12/2/2010 Binghamton News Channel 34.
Schumer Introduces New Legislation for 5 Year Flood Insurance Moratorium for New York Homeowners
 
Updated: 2:36 pm
From Max Young:
Yesterday, United States Senators Charles E. Schumer and Richard Durbin (D-IL), introduced a five-year moratorium on the requirement that New York homeowners purchase expensive new flood insurance policies if they live in a community designated as a flood zone since September 30th, 2007. Schumer has been highly critical of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood mapping techniques and has been pushing the agency to go back to the drawing board to devise a flood map plan that reflects the on-the-ground realities of communities now being impacted by new flood elevation requirements. Under existing law, homeowners who live in an area designated as a flood zone are federally mandated to purchase flood insurance. These policies can cost up to $2,000 per year across the state. The bill would waive the federal requirement to purchase flood insurance for a five-year period, and make Preferred Risk Policies (PRPs) – a low-cost alternative – available for homeowners who wish to purchase the insurance or are required by their lender to do so. Schumer’s bill would also phase in the amount of flood insurance required over an additional five years following the end of the five-year moratorium. 

“This legislation would provide relief to New York homeowners who are staring in the face of thousands of dollars in additional costs they simply can’t afford,” said Schumer. “A five-year moratorium and access to cheaper rates, will give homeowners the time to challenge these maps more effectively and allow us to more fully examine the methods FEMA used to draft these new maps.”

Testifying at a Senate Banking Committee hearing in September, Schumer laid out a series of concerns with the maps including the use of old GIS data mapping techniques that can be inexact in measuring elevation levels of homes and failure to include historical data on flooding in impacted communities.

“Serious and credible concerns have been raised by residents and local communities about access to and accuracy of the data that was used to impose these maps,” said Schumer. “This bill will provide a significant reprieve to residents as we continue to sort out and scrutinize the modeling that was used to create these maps.”
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12/7/2010 Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin.

Broome County flood plain plan threatens business hopes, officials say 6,500 properties targeted by FEMA map

By Nancy Dooling •ndooling@gannett.com • December 7, 2010, 8:00 pm

BINGHAMTON -- A federal agency wants to swell the ranks of local properties located within a flood plain.

But the consequences of that dubious distinction are expected to create financial hardships for businesses and property owners, local officials said.

The new designation will also likely stymie some redevelopment efforts currently under way in Broome County, they added.

Future developers looking to buy property will always ask if it's located in a flood plain, said Frank Evangelisti, Broome County's acting planning director.

"If it is, they will look elsewhere," Evangelisti told business owners and public officials Wednesday at a special program on flood remapping sponsored by the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is proposing the remapping of Broome's flood plain, adding 6,500 structures to the ranks of flood-plain properties.

Included in the proposed flood maps are businesses and properties proposed for redevelopment.

One is the Brandywine Corridor on the city's North Side, which has been targeted for cleanup of old industrial properties to develop a mixture of businesses and residences, transforming the neighborhood and making it viable for new development.

Now, FEMA wants to put the Brandywine Corridor in the flood plain.

That would be bad news for development efforts in the corridor, selected by the state as eligible for grants to clean up and improve properties located along the Brandywine Highway, including the former Stowe Manufacturing building, Evangelisti said.

Such a designation in the flood plain would likely cripple redevelopment efforts in the neighborhood, said Henry Cook, president of Cook Brothers Cos., a trucking business that supplies truck parts to the Northeast and offers a range of service and repairs. The company includes two Mack Truck dealerships.

Cook Brothers has operated along the Brandywine since 1957, Cook said.

"With that (flood plain) designation, I don't see development happening," Cook said.

The longtime business has been involved in the redevelopment of the Brandywine Corridor and owns several structures in the neighborhood, including its corporate headquarters, Cook said. Besides Binghamton, Cook Brothers has facilities in eight other locations in upstate New York and Pennsylvania.

The area around Cook Brothers has never flooded since business began operating along the Brandywine, the company president said.

That includes 2006, when historic flooding hit Binghamton, breaching floodwalls in several places and putting some neighborhoods in jeopardy, but not the Brandywine Corridor area.

According to FEMA's proposed new flood maps, flood water could escape the city's East Side and move to the Brandywine Corridor via Robinson Street, which runs beneath a railroad overpass on the city's North Side.

Evangelisti said his office is proposing a flood-mitigation project at the railroad overpass in an attempt to save the Brandywine Corridor from flood-plain status from FEMA.

There's no word on whether the mitigation project would be approved.

Help is also coming from a few federal officials.

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat, and a senator from Illinois have proposed legislation calling for a five-year moratorium on requiring New York property owners to purchase flood insurance if they find themselves in a newly designated flood plain.

Flood insurance is expected to cost up to $2,000 a year for homeowners and will be a requirement for property owners who have federally guaranteed mortgages.

Cook said large businesses like Cook Brothers will have an easier time finding the money to pay for flood insurance. His concern is for small businesses and homeowners who may find it difficult, if not impossible, to come up with the extra money.

Property owners -- both residential and business -- who would be hit the hardest are in the City of Binghamton, which will go from 298 properties in the flood plain to a whopping 2,420 parcels. The biggest impact in the city is that much of the First Ward and East Side would be added to the flood plain.

The Town of Union, including the villages of Johnson City and Endicott, would see its flood plain properties climb by more than 2,000 from 1,437 to 3,519.

Vestal properties in the flood plain would nearly double from 926 to 1,747.

And in the Village of Whitney Point, flood plain properties would increase from 53 to 177 --putting at least 30 percent of the village in the flood plain, village Mayor Gerald Whitehead said.

"It's a real heavy burden to have to pay," Whitehead said.

And even if you own your home -- and don't have to pay for flood insurance -- you could have a hard time selling a residential property located in a flood plain, Whitehead said.

Homebuyers looking to buy a home in a flood plain could face more scrutiny of the property from lenders, officials said.

"We are really between a rock and a hard place on this issue," Whitehead said.

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12/7/2010 Binghamton 12 Action News.
 

(WBNG Binghamton) After the Twin Tiers Flood of 2006, FEMA took a second look at the floodplain, it greatly expanded the area.

 
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Sharron Dallas,
ACU Communications
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NYC water-tunnel project may leave some areas high and dry; Newburgh, Marlborough affected

Top Photo
An underground crew works on construction at the Rondout-West Branch water tunnel in 1942.Photo courtesy NYC DEP Archives
Adam Bosch

New York City's $1.2 billion plan to fix its leaking aqueduct tunnel has created a drinking-water shortfall for two local towns, and the project has sparked negotiations between communities along the Hudson River that might share water resources to quench their thirst.

News of the project has sent the Town of Newburgh hunting for additional sources of water.

Newburgh pulls up to 3.8 million gallons of daily drinking water from the city's Delaware Aqueduct to supply its homes and businesses. The aqueduct has often been Newburgh's lone source of water since it tapped the city's supply in the 1980s.

Repairs Schedule and Costs

This is the tentative schedule for the tunnel repairs that New York City presented during a meeting in Ulster County last month.

August 2009-May 2014: Designing the bypass tunnel and other repairs ($40 million).

June 2010-August 2010: Acquiring property in Newburgh and Wappinger to built shafts for the bypass tunnel ($2 million)

July 2010-April 2012: Environmental review (included in design)

March 2013-June 2016: Construction of shafts in Newburgh and Wappinger ($511 million)

February 2015-January 2018: Construction of the bypass tunnel ($552 million)

October 2018-October 2019: Connection of bypass tunnel to sound sections of the existing tunnel (Included above)

October 2018-February 2019: Fixing the leaks in Wawarsing with power grouting (Included above)

October 2018-October 2019: Expected duration for the shutdown of the Rondout-West Branch tunnel.

PROJECTED COST: More than $1.1 billion

But aqueduct water won't be available come 2018. That's when New York City will shut down the Rondout-West Branch tunnel for roughly one year to repair leaks in Roseton and Wawarsing that are spewing 35 million gallons a day.

The huge public works project will bypass the leak in Roseton, a hamlet in Newburgh, by building a 3.5-mile diversion tunnel under the Hudson River. It will plug leaks in Wawarsing by injecting cement into them at high pressure, a process known as power grouting. Construction will create up to 1,500 jobs.

It will also create a dilemma for Newburgh, which does not have enough water without the aqueduct to supply its users.

"We're still looking for more backup water supplies," Newburgh Supervisor Wayne Booth said. "This gives us an incentive to get them in line."


Newburgh's started to prepare

In October, the town finished a $3.2 million filtration plant next to Chadwick Lake — its only dedicated source of water. Booth said the plant will eliminate manganese, a naturally occurring metal that stopped the town from using Chadwick as a year-round supply.

Still, the lake can only give up to 3.2 million gallons a day. That number can drop into the 2.5 million range during dry spells, Booth said. That means Newburgh must find roughly 1 million new gallons of drinking water before New York City shuts off the faucet.

Booth has identified two clear options. Newburgh can drill wells, or it can talk with the City of Newburgh about buying excess water from its two reservoirs. Either route would require new infrastructure, and Booth said it's too early to estimate costs.

The aqueduct shutdown will also affect the Town of Marlborough, which pulls roughly 3 million daily gallons through Newburgh's water pipes.

Marlborough Supervisor Christopher Cerone said his town will likely piggyback on whatever secondary sources Newburgh builds. Marlborough is also working to find its own water, but it was unclear if the town would build a supply before the 2018 shutdown.

"Marlborough's problem is that we don't have a backup supply," Cerone said. "It's tough to rely on everybody else."

New York City warned Newburgh about the tunnel shutdown roughly two months ago, but the city has not committed to help pay for the town's new infrastructure.

"We'll have to do an analysis of what the costs are, but we're certainly going to help them look and see what their options are," said Farrell Sklerov, spokesman for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.

New York City's reservoirs supply roughly 100 million gallons of daily water to 55 upstate communities.


Negotiations over water

Newburgh's dilemma has also sparked negotiations with two of its neighbors about sharing water, filtration and other resources to solve bigger drinking-water headaches in northeastern Orange County. The Orange County Water Authority has fostered chats between the City of Newburgh and towns of Newburgh and New Windsor about creating a regional water supply.

"The anticipation of an extended (aqueduct) tunnel shutdown got people to really focus on this question," said David Church, executive director of the water authority. "We've looked at everything from local sources to further reliance on the aqueduct."

The county released last week a preliminary study of those options. In it, the governments considered hooking into an aqueduct interconnect tunnel New York City is building in Gardiner, and constructing desalinization plants along the Hudson River.

All three governments were expected to pass resolutions this month to apply for a $450,000 state grant to continue their water study.

Thus far, officials said the cheapest and most promising option is sharing local sources of water owned by each municipality. The City of Newburgh's two reservoirs — Washington Lake and Brown's Pond — are the two most plentiful and largely untapped sources. They hold 4 million unused gallons a day.

Using those reservoirs could be a winning formula, officials said. The towns could get a much-needed source of local water to support their continued growth, and the City of Newburgh, by selling its excess, could realize a new source of revenue to curb the budget woes that forced a 71 percent tax hike next year.


Turning water into money

"With all the City of Newburgh's problems, the one thing it has in its favor is an excellent water supply," City of Newburgh Manager Richard Herbek said. "That needs to be viewed as a potential revenue source for the city."

Setting a price that's fair for the towns but profitable for the city could become an impasse, officials said.

"I've been around politics a long time, and it's going to take a degree of cooperation that I've never seen," said New Windsor Supervisor George Green. New Windsor pulls water from New York City's Catskill Aqueduct, but the town has been under a water moratorium since 2003 because it's treatment plants are near capacity.

Still, the towns of Newburgh and New Windsor realize that New York City water has been a mixed blessing. It has fueled the explosive growth of their bustling commercial corridors and supported 7,000 new residents over the past decade. But watering that growth comes at an increasingly huge price.

The rate New York City charges towns to use aqueduct water jumped by nearly 24 percent this year, to $1,149 per million gallons. That's exactly triple what it cost in the year 2000, when the city charged $383.

What's more, New York City charges the towns higher excess-consumption rates based on a formula that considers local population and the city's per capita water usage. Using water above the town's allowance can cost local users tens of thousands of dollars each month, supervisors said.

Booth and Green agree that weaning themselves off New York City water would be the best practical and fiscal policy for the future.

That's why water-sharing negotiations here along the Hudson River might be guided by one principle:

"New York City water isn't cheap," Booth said.

abosch@th-record.com


TUNNEL LEAK EXPLORATION FROM 1998 - 2009

The following is a rundown of how much New York City has spent investigating the leaks in its Rondout-West Branch tunnel since 1998:

1998: $35 million to begin investigation and design contracts

2002: $3 million on first photos taken by an automated underwater vehicle inside the tunnel

2003: $6 million on U.S. Geological Survey investigation

2004: $35 million to start investigation of alternative water supplies during the tunnel shutdown

2007: $280 million contract to install pumps and repair shafts that will eventually be used to "dewater" the tunnel so it can be fixed

2009: $2 million on a second set of photos taken by the automated underwater vehicle

2009: $30.5 million to start the design of the bypass tunnel in Newburgh

TOTAL SPENT: $391.5 million

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