Tonight the O-D published "Water Crisis: What Went Wrong?" To date it is probably the best description so far of what happened last summer to cause the crisis which put the entire Greater Utica area and West Canada Valley at risk.
A couple passages, however, rang some bells:
As the reservoir dropped, authority leaders said the changes appeared so dramatic because of the shape of Hinckley’s basin. “It's essentially doing exactly what it's designed to do,” authority Executive Director Patrick Becher said of the reservoir in early August.Is it really? Has anyone estimated the amount of reservoir capacity that is now occupied by silt? After 90 years, there is the potential for some significant accumulation. If the reservoir contains a lot of silt, there is that much less space left to hold water. Additionally, how much silt was released when Gray Dam was destroyed? To what degree has silt accumulation changed Hinckley's capacity to hold water?
What many officials did not know is that the numbers they reviewed were flawed. Government agencies were overestimating the inflow into Hinckley Reservoir and did not fully understand the physical structure of the outflow area, some state officials said.Why was the inflow into Hinckley overestimated? The "rule curve" used to control releases from Hinckley was written about 3 years after the 1917 Agreement was written (which required compensating flows from Gray Reservoir into Hinckley). Both were developed by the State Engineer. The "rule curve" had to have taken into account the agreed-upon releases from Gray. Could the agencies have been relying on inflow information that also contemplated releases to Hinckley from the now destroyed Gray Reservoir?
Hopefully the Working Group's Final Report will answer these questions, and tell us exactly what went wrong.