Water level at record high for date

The Great Sacandaga Lake is about a month ahead of schedule and is nearly full, but Chief Engineer R

The Great Sacandaga Lake is about a month ahead of schedule and is nearly full, but Chief Engineer Rob Foltan of the Hudson River Black River Regulating District said Wednesday that he’s “not at all” concerned about a shortage of storage capacity that could lead to flooding.

The district, which operates the lake as a flood-control reservoir and to augment the low flow of the Hudson River in the dry summer months, hasn’t updated its lake-level recording since April 3, when it was about 761.

But charts on the district’s Web site showed that the lake was about 766.5 feet above mean sea level Wednesday, rising about a foot a day since then. The reservoir is considered full at 768 while the Conklingville Dam spillway in Hadley is 771 feet above sea level.

The lake’s offer of settlement, which spells out when and how much water can be released, calls for an elevation of about 753 feet for this date. The historic high elevation for this date is about 756.

Foltan said regulators maximized releases from January through April 3. He said storage capacity is not an issue and the lake can store water up to a lake level of 778 feet above mean sea level if necessary.

He said reservoir releases, which have been suspended since last week because of high flows in the Upper Hudson River, should be able to resume in a week or so.

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch Wednesday morning that runs through Saturday afternoon, and there’s rain in the forecast late this week and into the weekend.

The rain, meteorologists said, combined with a very wet snowpack, may produce flooding along rivers and streams from Hope on the Sacandaga River in Hamilton County north of the lake to Hadley and most every other downstream community in the Upper Hudson River Valley.

A couple of lake-area interest groups are concerned about the way the lake is being regulated.

Wally Hart, president of the Fulton County Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the chamber is pulling together small groups such as the Day Property Owners Association and large ones such as the Great Sacandaga Lake Association to study whether the regulating district is “interpreting the settlement guidelines accurately”

“[Foltan] feels that he’s doing it correctly. I’m not qualified to answer that, but there are people who are questioning it,” he said.

Hart said the group has to set an agenda and will meet later this month or early next month.

“We worked for years on a settlement agreement we all thought we could live with,” Hart said. “Why is this happening this way? … Do we hire an engineer? What are the steps we have to take?”

Peter Byron, president of the GSLA, said his organization formed its own committee last year to review lake levels and the regulating district’s management of them. Members of the group worked over the winter and will soon formally request a sit-down with lake regulators concerning the water-level issues.

“We’re very concerned about the level of the lake and management of the lake and look forward to discussing it with the HRBR,” Byron said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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