Morning Read: Snowless winter brings empty Adirondack reservoir

The Conklingville Dam on Great Sacandaga Reservoir. Source: HRBRRD

The Albany Times-Union is reporting that the largely snowless winter and the earlier-than-usual spring melt have left reservoirs in northern New York high and dry.

At Great Sacandaga Lake, the state’s largest reservoir captures water made by melting snow from five Adirondack counties as far away as the High Peaks. Known as a “freshet,” this spring’s surge of incoming water was about half the historical average, said Robert Foltan, chief engineer at the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District.

“Usually, at this time of the year, about 80 percent of the snow is still in the mountains, frozen and waiting. Now, the snow is all gone,” he said. The freshet entering the 42-square-mile lake usually reaches its peak during mid-April.

With this year’s smaller, earlier freshet, the lake holds billions fewer gallons of water — about 129 billion gallons fewer that it held at its high point last April. Then, the reservoir hit a high of 774 feet above sea level; now,it is 756 feet, said Foltan.

The article points out that Catskill reservoirs are also down sharply.

Tags: , ,

13 Comments on “Morning Read: Snowless winter brings empty Adirondack reservoir”

  1. Pete Klein says:

    I think the wording should be “low and dry,” not “high and dry.”
    The one thing that is always certain, human beings will always complain it is either too hot or too cold, too dry or too wet. You just can’t satisfy them.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  2. Paul says:

    This is good news right? Finally we get a break from flooding and will have a chance to fix some things before the next hundred year flood comes later this year or next!

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  3. Patricia Lennox says:

    I don’t think I would consider low reservoirs good news. Maybe the need to make repairs from the damage of last years flooding is the opposite side of a living struggle with water.

    The weather has always been of great interest to human beings as a matter of survival. Today perhaps we feel immunity from the variables of climate but I’m not so sure I can take much comfort in trying to describe this reality of less water or last years flooding as mere grumbling. Water is one of our most precious natural resources as well as one of natures most powerful forces.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  4. laurie says:

    Is this good news? Sure, as long as the dry winter isn’t followed by a dry spring and summer and August doesn’t bring the opposite of last year’s floods, where we all find ourselves fretting over drought and forest fire instead…

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  5. Mervel says:

    Its not good news.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  6. tootightmike says:

    What climate change brings, more than anything, is unpredictability. Everything we do in the natural world relies on being able to rely on a certain kind of weather at a certain time.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  7. Paul says:

    Currently many Adirondack lakes seem unusually high given the lack of snow we had??? I am very surprised. Other places the water levels are very low. Did they open the flood gates too much after last years floods in some areas and not enough in others?

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  8. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    There is some apples and oranges comparison happening here. The Catskill Reservoirs are mostly for NYC water. The Sacandaga is primarily a flood control reservoir. They drain it down in the winter in anticipation of high water in the spring. The fact of it being low is simply a comparison to last year when there were some worries that it might burst. Apparently unfounded worries.

    Some people get upset that the Sacandaga water level fluctuates so much because they built a camp on it’s shores, but it wasn’t created for their entertainment.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  9. Grt.SacandagaLake Rockets says:

    My intent is to share knowledge rather than contradict. The Great Sacandaga is primarily for flood control, however it’s secondary is recreation as well as power generation. All three were always its design purpose. Residents of the lake with waterfront “rights” pay a permit fee for those rights. In addition, Fulton county residents have an additional accessment on their property values, roughly 1500$ per square foot, for these rights. The second expense, was added quite recently all in one year. Some tax increases were stunning, forcing the sale of multigenerational owned properties. The lake frontage however is still owned by HRBRRD. The regulating district lost its rights to tax for power generation, resulting in a default of the school taxes it is levied. The very same default in the private sector, would result in foreclosure. This is why Lake Residents complain about lake levels. In this day and age even the weathermen can’t accurately predict the weather, so the expectations of HRBRRD doing so is a stretch.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  10. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I stand corrected. But the point is that the lake level in the spring is held low in order to prevent flooding downstream.

    The change in tax assessments is a completely different issue that resulted from lawsuits if I remember correctly.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Walker says:

    “an additional accessment on their property values, roughly 1500$ per square foot, for these rights.”

    Wow, that’s quite an assessment! So a quarter-acre property was assessed an extra $16,335,000?

    Do you maybe mean $1500 per linear foot of frontage?

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Imagine how the poor people felt who lost their homes and farms when the reservoir was created. They lost their beautiful valley for the greater good – so that people downstream wouldn’t be flooded and lose their homes.

    I can’t imagine they would have much sympathy for the camp owners who knew when they bought their place what the deal was. Imagine if they knew how their ancestors would become isolated in “the Holler” and become a subject of ridicule known internationally as the Allens on Allentown.

    Recreation and power generation were ancillary issues to try to derive as much good as possible from the taking of certain peoples rights for good of those many miles away.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  13. Paul says:

    Knuck, your info maybe helps explain what I was talking about above. Yes, this is apparently the most highly taxed waterfront in maybe the entire world! I think there is a decimal point problem here.

    We had about twice the normal amount of precipitation last year. We are just under normal for this year. Yet we appear to be worried about running out of water. How did we get in this position.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

Comments are closed.