Rainy month leaves Sacandaga near its capacity
GREAT SACANDAGA LAKE Rain has pushed the Great Sacandaga Lake up three feet in the last week, but the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District doesn’t expect it to overflow during the busy holiday weekend.
The 29-mile-long reservoir in Saratoga and Fulton counties was at 770.28 feet above sea level Wednesday afternoon — less than a foot below the point at which it is considered full and water goes over the spillway of the Conklingville Dam in Hadley.
“We expect it to peak at 770.9 feet, about a half-inch below the spillway, based on our management,” said HRBRRD Executive Director Michael Clark.
That peak should happen sometime in the next couple of days, depending on the weather, he said.
The high water level is unusual for this time of year, though not unheard of when the reservoir is being used to manage spring runoff.
This is the time of year when seasonal recreational use is highest. Some people using campsites close to the water at Northampton Beach State Campground in Mayfield were being relocated Wednesday due to the high water.
The regulating district could release water to lower the lake level, but is currently impounding runoff coming from the Sacandaga River watershed in the Adirondacks, in keeping with its core mission to prevent downstream flooding on the Hudson.
“We’re storing the vast majority of what comes in due to the immensely high volume of water in the Hudson River,” Clark said Wednesday.
The lake’s watershed, which covers 1,044 square miles in Fulton, Hamilton and Warren counties, saw 9 1/2 inches of rain in June, more than twice what it normally receives for the month, Clark said.
Edinburg town Supervisor Jean Raymond, whose town is split by the lake, praised the regulating district’s management of the lake, given the amount of rain received.
“They’ve been very, very good about managing the water levels until the last four or five days, and it’s up now because the No. 1 rule is you do not release water into a flood, and it’s my understanding the Hudson is almost at flood,” Raymond said.
The last time water exceeded the spillway height and caused flooding around the lake was in the spring of 2011, when it hit a record level of 774.4 feet.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation, meanwhile, is cautioning visitors to the Adirondacks this weekend to expect high water in streams and muddy trails.
“Recent and continuing rains have brought water to very high levels,” according to DEC’s weekly Region 5 condition report, issued Wednesday. “Areas that normally are dry or have little water at this time of year may have a considerable amount of water. Currents in rivers and streams are fast and powerful. Be aware of these conditions and use caution.”