So our recent water crisis appears to have been someone's screw up.
We, the public, were led to believe that the Governor's Hinckley Reservoir Working Group would tell us what went wrong. . . . Don't bet on it.
Abundantly clear from its "Interim Report to the Governor," the screw up is being given a whitewash.
The interim report, while interesting for its collection of various facts and figures, tell us nothing that we did not already know.
In the summer and fall of 2007, Hinckley Reservoir water levels were well below normal for that time of the year. In September 2007, the Mohawk Valley Water Authority (MVWA), Oneida County and the NYSDOH raised concerns about the continued operation of the drinking water supply. By mid-September reservoir water levels were at a historic low for September and declining due to lack of precipitation and continued reservoir releases. The Hinckley Reservoir, which is the sole source of water for approximately 130,000 people, was reported to be at 17% of capacity. [p. 3/27]Following the above quote we then are given a history of the responses. But No Where are we told HOW the reservoir was permitted to get as low as it did.
The outline for the Final Report (due in March), Appendix 6, is not clear that we will ever be told exactly what went wrong. Of course, this is what is expected when the foxes are put in charge of the hen house. The Working Group is an "insiders group" composed exclusively of government agencies who have direct control of what goes on at Hinckley, and who can, and have, used an exemption under the Freedom of Information Law to keep its written communications from the public. Affected private interests were deliberately kept out of the group. Certain legislators have called for a truly independent study of what went on, but these legislators appear to have been marginalized.
At best, this group will produce a communication scheme that the agencies will use to prevent a crisis from happening again. At worst, the group will make a lot of recommendations regarding water supply use and economic development issues and promote agendas that have nothing to do with preventing what happened last fall.
It would be a breath of fresh air if we are told what really went wrong.