Watching the water, but not worried yet
New York City does not currently plan to issue any level of drought alert despite low levels in its upstate reservoirs.
New York City has no current plan to issue any level of drought alert despite the aggregate water levels in its upstate reservoirs being down to about 63 percent of capacity.
“Our first stage of drought advisory is known as ‘drought watch,’ and we are quite far off from that stage,” Adam Bosch, a spokesman for the city Department of Environmental Protection said in an email.
“Our scientists have been closely monitoring short-term and long-term weather forecasts, runoff forecasts, real-time data from the watershed, and other streams of information that come into DEP,” Bosch said. “We’re seeing some little batches of precipitation coming into the area in the short-term. Some of the longer-term forecasts are showing a return to more normal precipitation patterns for autumn and winter, and that is driving a prediction of higher runoff.”
The city’s six update reservoirs were at a combined 62.9 percent of their capacity in the most recent reading, compared to a typical 75.5 percent at this time of year.
The most recent readings had the Ashokan Reservoir, in Ulster County, at 62.4 of capacity, down from the typical 73.3 percent at this point on the calendar.
The Schoharie Reservoir is down to 9 percent (compared to a typical October reading of 74.1 percent), but Bosch said there’s no cause for alarm.
“Schoharie is our smallest reservoir, so it empties out the quickest during dry times,” he said. “However, it also has one of the largest watersheds, so it fills up much quicker than the others.”
The city’s Cannonsville Reservoir is at 31.9 percent (compared to the average 64.1 percent in October); the Pepacton Reservoir is at 63.2 percent (compared to a typical 71.5 percent); the Neversink Reservoir is at 67.8 percent (compare to a typical 67.4 percent); and the Rondout Reservoir is at 92.6 compared (higher than its October average of 91.1 percent).
“Rondout is always kept about full by diverting water from Cannonsville, Pepacton and Neversink into the basin,” Bosch explained. “Looking at Rondout storage is not a good indicator of hydrology or systemwide storage.”
Bosch said any droughtrelated advisories would begin with encouraging voluntary conservation.
The city of Kingston two weeks ago issued a “drought alert,” calling for voluntary water conservation, because the level in the city’s Cooper lake reservoir in Woodstock had fallen to 75 percent of capacity.
The water level in Ashokan Reservoir is visibly low in this photo taken Sunday near the intersection of Routes 28A and 213 in the town of Olive.