Thursday, September 07, 2006

Go with thee Flo...

The above photo taken yesterday shows one of the target areas on Hendrick Island for the upcoming September 16 river cleanup.

... All the models have Florence heading east by the weekend, whacking the Canadian Maritimes and sparing us. Forecasters are hopeful, all say remain vigilant, because the projected path of Flo is based on... air?

AccuWeather is even giving the odds on Flo, foretelling a 90%/10% chance that she will go east. This morning it was 75/25. Still, that 10% is reason to be concerned.

If the forecast for the next several days turns out to be true, river will be going back down to 4' and conditions will be ideal for a river cleanup or two (cleaunp information and trash photos will appear over the next several posts in this Journal).

Dave Soete of the Upper Delaware Council forwarded this bit of promising news. Read this article, particularly if you are in the floodplain of the Delaware River.

Alliance has plan to manage dam releases Columbia students balance water supply and fisheries By TOM KANE UPPER DELAWARE RIVER - There’s a solution to the problem of water releases from the three regional reservoirs that supply water to New York City, and it’s relatively easy to carry out. So says Peter Kolesar, a river valley resident and a Columbia University professor. “We have a plan that will save businesses and homes along the river from flooding, and will satisfy fishermen without limiting the city’s water supply,” Kolesar said. The plan is an end-product of an alliance, formed last January, of Trout Unlimited, the Nature Conservancy and the Delaware River Foundation, Columbia University professors and students from the business and engineering schools. Kolesar and his students have produced several computer models on the releases issue and come up with, they think, a solution. The problem centers on the practices of the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which controls the management of the dams and reservoirs that feed water into the city. “The city is very concerned that the drought of the century may start at any time and, if they aren’t careful about how much water they release, there will not be enough water to satisfy the principal reasons for the dams and reservoirs≤to supply water for the people and businesses of the city,” Kolesar said. Kolesar and his alliance assert that the northern section of the Upper Delaware gets short changed in the way releases are carried out. “There are two parties that benefit from the current release policy: the city and the down-basin states,” he said. Kolesar defined the down-basin states as those areas along the lower river in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. The release method his group is championing would smooth out the releases by releasing more water during a wet summer. “When you have more water, release more water,” he said. “When you have less water, release less water. Make more effective use of the Delaware’s water by spilling less. This also helps mitigate flooding. Don’t operate the river like a faucet. Maintain smooth transitions between water levels. Keep it simple.” This method, which he calls the Seasonal Adaptive Release Policy, can bring major improvement for the Upper Delaware fishery and ecology at little or no increase in risk to the city or down-basin users of Delaware River water. If it were followed, it could greatly benefit the fishing economy of Delaware County, NY, because it could extend the fishing season, he said. “This policy protects the fishery in wet summers by releasing more water than the current policy, but in wet summers adequate water is available to do this,” he said. “In wet summers, the adaptive release policy creates modest additional reservoir voids in the late summer and early fall that can offer some flood mitigation.” The policy allows the release of more water for the ecology because it spills less, he said. Kolesar admits that the details of the policy have to be worked out by all concerned groups. “The city and New York State are actively considering this plan, which has merit,” said Robert Tudor, Assistant Director of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC). “It is intriguing that this plan focuses on three main concerns: the city water supply, the fisheries and the downstream communities. We’ve had three 100-year floods in two years, so we need to examine releases and spills. The technical work has yet to be done so all the parties to the 1954 Supreme Court decision will be involved in this decision.” “The main obligation of the DEP is to ensure the ample supply of water to the city,” said Charles Sturcken, director of public affairs. “Since we have had so many unusual floods recently, it is important that we re-examine the releases policy. In the next few months, we will join with the Delaware River Basin Commission and the River Master to consider these suggestions.” Sturcken said that in May of 2007, there would be a review of the releases policy, which is routinely done every few years.

I have read that there would potentially be a 2.5 feet lowering of the floodwaters if the reservoirs were voided enough to create more capacity and still not jeopordize water supplies. Responsible reservoir management would be a major benefit for most flood-prone property owners along the river for the 30' flood, but that would not prevent a major flood from occuring. Even with a 2.5 drop that could result from lower reservoir levels, a flood like the April '05 or certainly the 1955 event would still innundate the usual places (New Hope, Yardley, Byram, Harmony Station etc).

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