Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A New Reservoir? What You Are Not Being Told . . . and Observations

State Canal. Corp. plans new reservoir :

Canal Corp. official said Wednesday the agency has applied for $50 million in federal stimulus money to build an additional 6-billion-gallon reservoir in northern Herkimer County.

The new body of water would sit very close to where the old Gray Dam once stood, a dam whose razing in 2002 has become a flashpoint in the debate over water resource management in the Mohawk Valley. . . .

Point 1) A 6-billion gallon reservoir -- 1/4 the size of Hinckley -- is precisely the size of reservoir that the Mohawk Valley Water Authority is required to maintain under its now-breached 1917 Agreement with the State when it is drawing the maximum 48.5 million gallons per day allowed under that agreement.

Point 2) Use of this new reservoir cannot be free. The State will wind up charging the MVWA -- who will in turn charge its customers -- for use of this reservoir, because MVWA was obliged to have such a reservoir of its own. . . . meaning MVWA really blew it when it took down Gray Dam.

The Mohawk Valley Water Authority could expand its services to additional municipalities seeking public water in western Herkimer County and central and western Oneida County.

Point 3) The statement above may or may not turn out to be true.

DEC is the arbiter of such decisions. DEC decides which communities should get water from which supplies. Right now only Greater Utica communities and Herkimer County municipalities in the West Canada Creek drainage basin have been designated to receive water from Hinckley Reservoir. For DEC to allow Hinckley water to be used in Verona and Vernon, Environmental Conservation Law §15-1503(2) requires that the DEC determine

  . . . whether the proposed project is justified by the public necessity,
whether it take proper consideration of other sources of supply that
are or may become available . . . whether the supply will be adequate,
. . . whether the project is just and equitable to all affected
municipalities and their inhabitants and in particular with regard
to their present and future needs for sources of water supply
. . .

What Oneida County refuses to acknowledge are the results of its own commissioned water supply study done in 1968 that recommended (1) that Hinckley be reserved for Greater Utica and the mentioned Herkimer County communities, (2) that central Oneida County be served by Rome's water source and (3) that western Oneida County be served from Lake Ontario and other locally available sources. If the population in the Greater Utica area were to significantly grow (such as the "full build-out" scenarios predicted for the Town of New Hartford), Greater Utica would need every drop of that 48.5 MGD that MVWA could potentially draw from Hinckley, and might have to take additional water from Oriskany Creek. No other sources for the Utica area were identified as being practicable. This study strongly suggests that DEC would not be able to properly make the statutorily required findings . . . but then, again, DEC is subject to political pressures. Is that what Greater Utica wants? To run the risk of our grandchildren possibly being short of water?


“If you spend money on another reservoir, you're flushing it down the drain,” Water Authority Board of Directors Vice Chairman Bruce Brodsky said. . . .

Spending money to protect the water rights of riparan owners is flushing money down the drain? Either Mr. Brodsky does not understand the law, or he has no use for it.

Picente said it's “just unacceptable” that the state Canal Corp. and Erie Boulevard Hydropower are willing to wait on the weather and risk the water level dropping closer to 1,185 feet above sea level. The Canal Corp. needs to “just get a backbone” and make the changes, Picente said.

Either Mr. Picente does not understand the law, or he has no use for it.

Oneida County Executive Director Anthony Picente said he found out about the Canal Corp.'s stimulus money application “by accident” after it had been made. . . .

He expressed concern that a “devious” Canal Corp. is talking about regional cooperation even while it quietly applied for a new reservoir.
As "devious" as convening a "stakeholders' group" that leaves out the key stakeholders, Mr. Picente?

Regarding lost revenues to the power company:

In a released statement, Water Authority Board of Directors Chairman Elis DeLia said the water level should not be allowed to drop. The power company could recoup lost revenues by over-releasing water when the reservoir is full, as has been done in the past, DeLia said.

Perhaps Mr. DeLia is right, and the power company should do MVWA a favor by delaying power production. . . but why would it? MVWA has acted with total disregard for the rights of other riparian owners. Would Mr. DeLia do the power company a favor if the shoe were on the other foot?

The Oneida County legislature just passed the resolution that I blogged about yesterday. I won't even begin to comment on some of the statements made by legislators . . . but it is more of the same.

The words and actions of our elected and appointed leaders are the best evidence of their knowledge and character.

Are they really protecting our interests?

1 comment:

onjeesun said...

I love the reaction from the Canal Corp with regards to the resolution they passed! From the OD article -

Canal Corp. Director of Canals Carmella Mantello said she commends the counties for reviewing the issue, but the state should be involved in decisions.

“I think the state would look at it as a suggestion,” she said of the resolution.

So much for posturing and power.