Lake level stops rising

There’s video posted on YouTube of water cascading over the Conklingville Dam spillway for those who

There’s video posted on YouTube of water cascading over the Conklingville Dam spillway for those who can’t get to Hadley to see the rare event in person. (See it here.)

The Great Sacandaga Lake did stop rising Tuesday, although it hovered at a near record level of about 773.5 feet above sea level.

Hudson River Black River Regulating District Chief Engineer Rob Foltan said that impressive site of water coursing over the dam will last for another week or more.

The lake is 21⁄2 feet over the spillway elevation of 771; the regulators consider it full at 768.

Regulators have a balancing act on their hands with respect to how much water they can release from the dam. Running hydroelectric turbines at the dam, along with the uncontrolled release over the spillway, there was 8,900 cubic feet per second entering the upper Hudson River Tuesday.

That equates to 66,750 gallons per second emanating from the 78-year-old flood-control reservoir.

Farther downriver, folks in Washington County and Saratoga County were dealing with minor flooding issues that were not causing serious problems, officials said.

Saratoga County Emergency Services Director Paul Lent said there is some flooding in Schuylerville and in the Wright’s Loop area in the town of Stillwater.

“It’s historic. It’s nothing new for it to flood there. It’s probably the lowest point on the Hudson River,” he said.

Lent said look at the bright side: The Saratoga Sod Farm is getting free water.

Claire Pospisil, a spokeswoman for the state Health Department, said residents who live in rural flood-prone areas should check their septic systems when the water recedes.

“Usually, flooding would not affect the septic system if it’s been maintained and is in good operating order. One thing we would recommend, after floods have gone down people should check to make sure soil has remained intact over the tanks,” she said, and any eroded material should be replaced.

Foltan said as of Tuesday the inflow to the reservoir was matching the amount being released as evidenced by the lake level stabilizing. As flows in the Hudson River recede the district can release more water.

Taking into account the current mostly dry long-range weather forecast, Foltan said the lake would probably recede to the spillway elevation by April 30 or May 1.

The district’s guidelines for lake management are referred to as the offer of settlement and were devised when the lake’s hydroelectric permit was reissued by the federal government six years ago.

According to the district’s Web site, water flowed over the dam for short periods of time in 1983, 1990, 1993, and 2000. Since the offer of settlement was invoked in 2002 it’s happened in 2003, 2004 and again this spring.

Longtime residents and those with property on the lake contend that aggressively storing water for power generation is the reason.

“The bottom line is that the reservoir is primarily for flood abatement, not to generate electricity,” said Midge Consler of Schenectady, who has had a place on the lake in Broadalbin for 60 years.

“Not letting out enough water in January has been a big problem of theirs and we are seeing the results,” she added. “We don’t need rocket scientists, just people with common sense and a knowledge of the history.”

Others such as Peter VanAvery of the Batchellerville Bridge Action Committee have advocated that the agreement be revisited and amended.

“There are some folks out there that think that should be reopened,” Foltan acknowledged, but he said to the best of his knowledge it has never been considered by the regulating district board.

Categories: Schenectady County

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