News > News > Safeguard Drinking Water > Lower Esopus Stakeholders Propose Approach to Ashokan Reservoir Releases that Benefit Both Creek Health and Flood Mitigation

Lower Esopus Stakeholders Propose Approach to Ashokan Reservoir Releases that Benefit Both Creek Health and Flood Mitigation


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Contact: Tina Posterli, 914-478-4501 x 239, [email protected]

Riverkeeper, community partners submit alternatives to DEP’s false choice of “mud or flood”

KINGSTON and OSSINING , NY – December 21, 2011 – Riverkeeper, the Lower Esopus Watershed Partnership, more than five municipalities, the Ulster County planner, and other partner stakeholders have submitted comments and recommendations to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) responding to DEC’s and New York City Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP’s) proposed Interim Ashokan Release Protocol to guide releases from the Ashokan Reservoir to the lower Esopus Creek. The proposed Protocol was developed by DEC and DEP without stakeholder input to provide a framework for allowing DEP’s ongoing turbid releases, despite DEC’s & DEP’s pledge in January 2011 to work with a broad group of stakeholders to facilitate “a frank dialogue, and exchange of ideas and information to inform operational decisions” and to take steps to prevent turbid releases in the future.

Last week, Riverkeeper and Ulster County Executive Mike Hein filed a joint petition to require DEP to obtain a permit that would limit the release of turbid water into the lower Esopus Creek from the Ashokan Reservoir. DEP responded by stating that any action to restrict the use of the channel to decrease turbidity could be dangerous and cause flooding in downstream communities. The stakeholders’ comments on the Interim Protocol, presented in their December 2011 letter to DEC, make it clear that there aren’t just two options, mud or flood, if careful thought is given to ways to preserve water quality, while making seasonally appropriate releases to benefit both stream health and flood mitigation. Specifically, the stakeholders recommended:

  • Clear caps on the quality, quantity and duration of flood mitigation releases.
  • Consideration of recent weather and precipitation data in modeling appropriate release volumes throughout the year.
  • Use of community/conservation releases to assist with both flood mitigation and improving creek health, particularly in late summer and early fall and during above normal hydrologic conditions.
  • Requiring use of the best West Basin water available to improve the water quality of both flood mitigation and community releases, using East Basin settled water, if necessary.

Kate Hudson, Riverkeeper (NYC) Watershed Program Director, stated, “Ongoing, informed stakeholder input is vitally important, as well as developing a science-based, effective and equitable release strategy for the lower Esopus. The stakeholders call on DEC to ensure that the stakeholders will have a regularized and guaranteed role in that process and on DEP to honor their commitment to provide us access to a technical consultant to advise us in that effort.”

Read the Lower Esopus Stakeholders recommendations and comments to DEC.

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