Looks like last fall's Hinckley water crisis has developed a new wrinkle: another potential lawsuit. Erie Boulevard Hydropower has filed a notice of claim against the State of New York for breach of an old 1921 Agreement. It seems that the Canal Corp., when it reduced releases from Hinckley to keep the lake level from dropping below the Mohawk Valley Water Authority's drinking water supply intake, reduced them below the levels required by the Agreement. The reduced 'water over the dam' meant lost power and lost money to the power company.
But wait! Isn't drinking water more important than power? Shouldn't the power company give up some of its power to protect MVWA's customers?
The power company isn't the only one suffering a loss. A public fishery along West Canada Creek was also shut down for the first time in memory. While a few fishermen not being able to fish their favorite stream might seem inconsequential to some, there are others who make their living off this sport, and their incomes were also dramatically impacted by the Canal Corporation's actions.
But wait! Isn't drinking water more important than fishing and people making their living from fishing activities? Shouldn't the fishermen give up their past time and the guides, and bait-and-tackle shops take a back seat to the well being of the people in Utica and New Hartford?
Where is it written that the Canal Corp. must retain water to protect the MVWA's water supply? Isn't that the obligation of the MVWA?
Of course, we already know that the MVWA breached its own agreement with the People of the State of New York by demolishing its back up reservoir at Gray -- and if you read some of the appendices to the Hinckley Working Group's Report, you would know that MVWA was obliged to add water to Hinckley from its own reserves throughout last summer in an amount equal to what it was using.
Did MVWA's breach contribute to the Canal Corp's breach? Will the Canal Corp. bring a third-party suit against MVWA to (make its customers) pay for the power company's loss?
Did MVWA's breach contribute to the threat to its own intakes? In theory, undoubtedly because there would have been more water in Hinckley, but as a practical matter, the answer is unknown, because the Working Group avoided making those calculations like it was the plague. We can't have state-created agencies pointing out other state-created agencies' screw-ups can we? . . . especially when they are all busy suing each other . . . and why bother? . . . It's not like its costing them any money because all the costs are passed on. The taxpayers, MVWA customers, and Thruway users have bottomless pockets to finance these suits and charades.
And where was the DEC in all this when it gave a permit to MVWA to destroy the Gray Dam? Shouldn't it have known that maintenance of that dam was a requirement for MVWA to take water from Hinckley? Shouldn't it have determined in advance the consequences of MVWA removing the dam and the additional water storage to the well-being of MVWA's customers?
Some days it seems that none of the government entities want to follow their own rules . . . They all want to march to their own drummer, focusing only on their own missions . . . Nevertheless, they all are willing to cover up for each other to protect the status quo. . . Meanwhile public safety is put at risk, the public and private businesses are inconvenienced, and we all pay and pay.
What a terrible tangled web New York State government has weaved.