Watch­ing the wa­ter, but not wor­ried yet

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Wil­liam J. Kem­ble news@free­manon­line.com

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.

JEREMY SCHIFFRES — DAILY FREEMAN

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.

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