Mr. DeLia from MVWA opines that public policy should never jeopardize the water supply. Certainly that is something that we can all agree upon. However, when he says . . .
On behalf of the Mohawk Valley Water Authority, let me make it clear that we will do everything necessary to protect our region’s water rights.and
The Mohawk Valley Water Authority will continue to pursue every available avenue to secure the region’s rights to its public water supply. Those rights have been affirmed in the courts.. . . his words are belied by both MVWA's actions and its "affirmation" in court.
If MVWA was serious about securing the region's rights to its water supply, it would have never demolished Gray Dam . . . at least not without first revising its agreements with the State and all other riparian landowners from which it secured conditional rights. MVWA would also not be willing to give "the region's rights" away to other regions, namely Vernon and Verona, which have other sources of water available to them.
In so far MVWA's rights being "affirmed" in the courts, Mr. DeLia misuses the word. The only thing the court did was attempt to preserve the status quo . . . by allowing MVWA to continue with its current water withdrawals, but capping them at a rate not to exceed 35 cfs . Since the old agreement, if observed, would have entitled MVWA to withdraw up to 75 cfs, rational people would conclude that the MVWA LOST a valuable right.
Ms. Mantello from the Canal Corp. insists that the Water authority must implement low-level water pumping now. She claims that . . .
... the current concern is not about canal reservoir management, but the Mohawk Valley Water Authority’s (MVWA) infrastructure limitations, which they need to address immediately. MVWA is responsible for the cost of its own water supply. . . .Wait a minute! The current concern has NOTHING to do with MVWA's "infrastructure limitations" for pumping. MVWA has never been required to maintain equipment for "low level water pumping," and should not be expected to do so now. In fact, under the 1917 Agreement the State is obliged to "provide for the operation of [MVWA's] intake gates and pipes in such manner as to secure to [MVWA] the water to which it is entitled, free from dirt and sediment so far as practicable ..."
Ms. Mantello wades deeper into treacherous waters when she states that
. . . the Canal Corp. is not responsible to maintain a specific reservoir level.
Not true. Although the Canal Corp. is certainly not obliged to operate Hinckley to make up for for MVWA's lack of upstream storage, it is obliged to ensure that water levels don't drop below MVWA's intakes to make them unusable, or drop so low that MVWA starts taking in dirty water. Canal Corps. obligation to lower riparian owners is to preserve the natural flow in the creek, not to supplement it with more water. The suspicion is that Canal Corp. released too much water, jeopardizing MVWA's intakes, to make some kind of point.
An interesting note, it was mentioned a few articles back in the OD that the inflow into Hinckley had dropped to 350 cubic feet per second just before the most recent alarm was sounded. At that level of inflow, assuming that MVWA was withdrawing its historical usage of 35 cfs as allowed by Judge Hester, MVWA would have been obliged under the old agreement to contribute 20 cfs from its own reservoir into Hinckley.
The consequences of that lack of 20 cfs for only a few days should be the extent of MVWA's financial exposure.
Both sides are posturing and both are far overstating their cases. Caught in the middle are the Water Authority's customers, land owners along West Canada Creek, and people who use the creek and Hinckley reservoir for recreation.
MVWA cannot insist that it pay nothing to make up for its failure to make compensating flows. It also must halt all further expansions of its system within its approved service territory until a long term solution is determined. For other reasons not gone into now, it must also forget proposals to expand outside of its service territory, period.
Canal Corp. needs to stop playing with the water levels and pretending that they are all MVWA's fault. They are not. Canal Corp. has many sources of supply for its canal, and can adjust same to ensure that the water level in Hinckley does not drop to such a low elevation that it prohibits the State's compliance with Judge Hester's order.
The water fight is getting old.