Rain­fall helped, but reser­voir still low

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Paul Kirby pkirby@free­manon­line.com paulat­free­man on Twit­ter

Tues­day’s per­sis­tent rain­fall re­versed, at least for a day, the re­cent drop in the city reser­voir’s wa­ter level, but the prob­lem is far from solved, ac­cord­ing to Kingston’s wa­ter su­per­in­ten­dent.

Ju­dith Hansen said 1.68 inches of rain fell Tues­day and that the wa­ter level in the reser­voir, Cooper Lake in Wood­stock, rose about 2.5 inches.

The rain “cer­tainly helped,” Hansen said in an email. “... And we will con­tinue to ben­e­fit from the runoff and the flow in the Mink Hol­low stream for the next sev­eral days.”

She said the wa­ter level in Cooper Lake has been drop­ping about 0.2 feet per day, but “yes­ter­day (Tues­day), not only did we not drop, we gained 0.2 feet,”.

But lo­cal rain­fall re­mains well be­low the November av­er­age of 4.3 inches, and the wa­ter level in Cooper Lake is much lower than it should be.

Cooper Lake was just 65 percent full on Mon­day, prompt­ing the Kingston Wa­ter Depart­ment to up­grade a mon­thold “drought alert” to a “drought warn­ing.” Like the alert, the warn­ing calls for vol­un­tary wa­ter con­ser­va­tion, but it asks for a 15 percent cut­back by com­mer­cial users.

Cooper Lake typ­i­cally is 85 percent full at this time of year. Its ca­pac­ity is 1.2 bil­lion gal­lons.

Kingston will de­clare a “drought emer­gency” if the wa­ter level in Cooper Lake falls to 50 percent, and con­ser­va­tion would be­come manda­tory for all users. Kingston has de­clared only two drought emer­gen­cies in the last 36 years — one in 1980, the other in 2012.

There ac­tu­ally are three stages of “drought emer­gency,” with Stage 3 be­ing the most se­ri­ous. That stage has never been reached.

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