In case you missed the MVWA's full page color advertisement in Friday's and Sunday's Observer Dispatch (which YOU paid for!) it is reproduced at left. It is almost verbatim the March 2013 newsletter you already received with your water bill. Both trumpet the agreement reached between the MVWA and NYS Canal Corporation that settled their lawsuit. Why do we hear about this again, now?
The bold text 2/3 down gives a clue:
"While this agreement does ensure prudent management of reservoir levels, it is important to note that neither the MVWA nor the Canal Corporation controls the flow of water into the West Canada Creek below that reservoir. The operations of a privately-owned hydroelectric plant determine how much water will be released and when."
Blame for flows of the West Canada below the reservoir is being deflected to a "privately-owned" company -- but not mentioned is the fact that MVWA and Canal Corp (your government) are the only ones who divert water away from the Creek (the power company does not).
With West Canada Creek's natural flows ranging from about 150 cubic feet per second up to over 30,000 cfs, there is plenty of water available for all sorts of uses -- provided that "excess" water is captured when flows are high and released when flows are low. Although MVWA has often claimed a "right" to take 48.5 million (75 cfs) gallons of water per day, that right was contingent upon it maintaining a storage reservoir upstream of Hinckley Reservoir of a size per the table reproduced at the right. Doing the math with these figures reveals that MVWA should be holding about 120 days' worth of water use in storage. At the full 48.5 MGD, 6 billion gallons should be in storage. That's almost 1/4 the size of Hinckley reservoir itself! MVWA should be using this 120 day storage to replace what it takes out of Hinckley when creek flows are low.
MVWA's ad is drumming up public support for the MVWA-Canal Corp agreement now perhaps to avoid it being scrutinized as part of MVWA's pending application before the Department of Environmental Conservation to expand its service area. The new agreement does not hold water. It was made without benefit of an environmental impact statement. The two "consumers" of West Canada Creek water went into a closed room and divided the creek's water among themselves. The agreement relieves MVWA of the storage and flow augmentation requirements which means that water will be removed by MVWA and not replaced. Ultimately that means less water available for the creek below Hinckley Dam.
Slick public relations campaigns may distract, but they cannot paper over the math.
MVWA and Canal Corp hope no one notices that their agreement comes at the expense of everyone who uses the creek below the Hinckley dam.