GSLA REPORTS

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EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS SECTION CONTAINS (1) GSLA SPECIAL PROJECT INFORMATION; (2) GSLA GREAT SACANDAGA LAKE COLIFORM MONTORING REPORTS WITH DATA PRESENTED FOR MULTIPLE YEARS TO ALLOW EASIER MULTI-YEAR COMPARISONS; (3) HUDSON RIVER-BLACK RIVER AND RELATED REPORTS; (4) GSLA WATER LEVEL COMMITTEE REPORTS

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(1) GSLA SPECIAL PROJECT INFORMATION

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The Offer of Settlement: There has been great interest in the lake community concerning the conditions of the Offer of Settlement which controls the water level on the Great Sacandaga.  The following article was prepared by David Smail who is Vice-President of the Great Sacandaga Lake Association (GSLA) and the Chair of the GSLA Lake Level Committee.  Dave has authored many reports over the years on the lake level and works closely with the staff of the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District to answer lake community questions concerning the implementation of the Offer of Settlement.

                                                                          LIFE ON THE GREAT SACANDAGA 

 The Great Sacandaga Lake Question:  Every year the Great Sacandaga Lake Association and other lake groups receive questions about the water level on the Great Sacandaga. This year is no exception but it has become more of an issue because of lower than normal lake levels.   

In order to begin to answer this important question it is necessary to explain why a system was needed,  how the water is regulated and identify the various parties or ‘beneficiaries’ who helped develop the Offer of Settlement which sets the parameters for operating the reservoir. 

What is an Offer of Settlement?  Prior to building a dam on a navigable waterway in the United States, the owner must obtain a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) because of the impact on individuals and habitat upstream and downstream of the dam.  Prior to issuing the license, FERC negotiates with the impacted parties to agree with the requirements of the license.   When accepted, the Offer of Settlement becomes the license for the construction and the operation of the dam/hydro project.

The Lake Prior to the Offer of Settlement:  For decades, spring runoffs resulted in the flooding of communities between Glens Falls and Albany.  In 1922, New York State formed a Water Control Commission to control river flow, promote hydroelectric power generation and prevent flooding on the Hudson River downstream.  By the mid 1920’s several hydro projects and the cities of the cities of Albany, Rensselaer, Troy, Watervliet, and Green Island on the Hudson River agreed to pay for the construction and the operation of the dam/reservoir to be built on the Sacandaga River.  The Conklingville Dam was completed in 1930 and the 42 square mile 29 mile long reservoir changed the Sacandaga Valley forever.  To meet its mission the Regulating District varied the lake level 20+ feet over the year.  

In the early 1980’s, several lake area groups, including the Great Sacandaga Lake Association, the Fish Federation and marina operators sought to retain higher water levels in the late summer and early fall to enhance recreation and hopefully to increase economic development. Lake residents introduced legislation that would have mandated a minimum reservoir level elevation of 762 feet between May 1st and September 30th.  The District commissioned an Albany engineering firm to identify the probable effects of the proposed mandate.  The 1984 Malcolm Pirnie Inc. report identified 38 municipal wastewater treatment plants, 65 private industries/institutions, nine public water treatment plants, 16 hydroelectric plants, 21 recreational facilities and 45 “sensitive habitat areas” that depend on the water from the Great Sacandaga Lake. 

The report predicted that the probable effects of the proposed minimum water level would force waste treatment plants to reduce their discharge of pollutants, water quality would suffer, affecting community water supplies and aquatic life.  The economic cost to the downstream water users was estimated to be a total of between $4,528,000 and $7,308,000 depending upon seasonal precipitation. 

In 1985, the Regulating District agreed to an experimental measure, to keep the flow rate of water passing through the Spire Falls hydro project to 3,000 cubic feet per second during periods of low precipitation.  

During the next 15 years the regulating district was able to increase the September 1st daily average lake level by approximately 1.5 feet.  The negative impact of higher levels included increased erosion of the shoreline and damage to docks and stairs.  Prior to 1983, the lake level never exceeded the top of the spillway.  During the 15 years prior to the implantation of the Offer of Settlement the lake exceeded the top of the spillway four times.

Why is there an Offer of Settlement Agreement on the Great Sacandaga Lake? In the late 1980’s, FERC decided to relicense many of the hydro projects in the Northeast. Several organizations fought to have the Sacandaga Lake come under FERC control, which would give them more say on the operation of the dam.  The Hudson River black River Regulating District (HRBRRD) and the New York State Department of Conservation did not want to turn over the control of releases from the lake to the Hydro Project owner.  They argued that the state needed to control the releases to ensure Regulating District’s mission of flood control and river augmentation is protected.  A judge ruled that FERC has jurisdiction over the Conklingville Dam.  As a result, the operation of the Great Sacandaga Lake became part of the Upper Hudson/Sacandaga River Offer of Settlement.  Under the agreement the HRBRRD maintains the control of scheduling the releases from the lake.

What groups were involved in the negotiation Offer of Settlement Agreement? The negotiations for the Offer of Settlement took ten years and it was signed on March 8, 2000 by 29 organizations including the following lake community organizations: The Great Sacandaga Lake Association, Great Sacandaga Lake Fisheries Federation, Great Sacandaga Lake Marinas, Fulton and Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, the Town of Hadley. 

Other signatories included:  The Adirondack Council, The Adirondack Park Agency, American Whitewater, Erie Boulevard Hydropower, Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation,  The HRBRRD, Hudson River Rafting Co. Inc, National Park Service, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to name a few.  A complete list of signatories can be found in the Appendix
 
What were some of the issues that had to be resolved? Many of the issues required compromise and took years to resolve.  Some of the issues included:  

1.      Lake Level – The lake community wanted higher lake levels during the late summer and early fall.

2.      Sufficient Hudson River Flow – The downstream communities wanted sufficient daily average flow on the Hudson River below the confluence of the Sacandaga River to ensure the quality of the river water and habitat is maintained.

3.      Aggressive Water Storage – The owners of the hydro projects wanted to limit the releases of the water from the lake to levels that would not exceed the hydraulic capacity of the project.  (The downstream hydro projects are classified as “run of river” and cannot store water in the upstream pools.  When river flow exceeds the hydraulic capacity of the project the water bypasses the turbines and the energy is loss.)

4.      Limit the maximum winter drawdown – The fishing community wanted to limit winter drawdown. If the lake level is lowered too low during the winter in preparation for storage of the spring runoff, fish are trapped in small pools and are killed when the lake freezes.  In addition the fish loose spawning areas.  If the lake level is not lowered far enough, sufficient storage volume will not be maintained to prevent flooding during the spring runoff. 

5.      Hydro Project Fish Kill – The E. J. West Hydro Project has trash racks/intake grates that prevent debris from entering the turbines. The trash racks have 4 ½ inch square openings which permit adult fish to be drawn into the turbines and killed.  From early 1993 and early November 1994 nets were placed downstream of the hydro project to capture the killed fish.  It was estimated that during this period, 58,799 fish were killed.  The lake community wanted new trash racks with smaller openings installed on each of the Hydro Projects.

6.      Canoe Portage Around Dams - The lake and river communities wanted canoe portages and access points around the hydro projects.

7.      Base Flows on the Sacandaga River, Below the Stewarts Bridge Dam – The minimum base flow was 25 cubic feet per second and groups wanted the flow to be increased to improve the aquatic habitat on the river.

8.      Whitewater Releases – The whitewater companies wanted a schedule for the times in which the sufficient flow to support whitewater activity during the summer months.

9.      Improved Access to the Stewarts Bridge Reservoir and Sacandaga River – The community and the whitewater companies wanted improved access to the Stewarts Bridge Reservoir and Sacandaga River.

10.  Financial Support for Lake and River Projects – The lake community and groups along the rivers requested the hydro project owners financially support improvement initiatives.

Results of Negotiations (Operational Curves and Tables):   During the negotiations a computer model of the river systems was developed and used to predict Great Sacandaga Lake levels based upon historical river flows and precipitation for various release schemes.  The following operational curves were developed and are used to establish minimum and maximum daily releases from the lake.

Operational Curves - There are three sets of Operational Curves.  To reflect the changes in the maximum winter drawdown of the Great Sacandaga Lake occurs typically in late March or April that changes during the agreement.  For the first ten years the drawdowns were limited to 748 feet. From 2010 to 2020, the limit is 749 feet and after 2020 the limit is 750 feet. The three figures are in the Appendix.  The difference the three figures is Curve 3, the Target Elevation which differs during the months of January through April.


Curve 1 Minimum Lake Level - The curve establishes the minimum level the lake can be drawn down. From October 15th to April 1st the limit is 740 feet.  From May 1st to September 5th the limit is 756 feet. During the period of time between the winter and summer limits the limit curve changes linearly.

Curve 2 Top of the Storage Buffer – The curve establishes a storage volume between Curve 1 and Curve 2 that is reserved for augmenting the flow on the Hudson River to assure water quality. The volume cans also be used to support whitewater activity.

Curve 3 Target Elevation – The curve establishes the top of the Conservation Storage volume that in which additional releases can be made to increase hydro production above what is produced while maintaining flow augmentation and whitewater activities.

Curve 4 top of Flood Pool – Curve 4 is at an elevation of 773 feet which is two feet above the top of the spillway.  The lake is considered full at a level of 768 feet and curve 3 reaches it on June 1st.  Above the elevation of 771 feet, water is being released over the top of the spillway, which is acting as a weir to limit flow downstream.  It should be noted that engineering calculations predicted that on an annual basis the lake would exceed the top of the spillway 1.4 percent of the time.  In actuality the top of the spillway has been exceeded five times in the first 18 years after implementation of the technical requirements of the Offer of Settlement.

Tables – There are is set of five tables that are used to establish the minimum and maximum average daily flows on the Sacandaga and Hudson Rivers.  The tables are in the Appendix. These tables limits are established based upon the current lake level in comparison to the where it lies on the operating curves and the estimated daily flow of the Hudson River above the confluence of the Hudson River and Sacandaga Rivers.  

(1)   To maintain the lake level near the Target Elevation, the Hudson River Black River Regulating District maximizes the release if the lake level is above the target and minimizes the release if the lake level is below the target

(2)   To maintain the quality of the downstream water the Hudson River flow below the confluence of the Sacandaga River should be above 1760 CFS. 

(3)   To prevent the lake level from falling below the minimum Lake level (Curve 1) during periods of draughts, when the lake level drops below 1.2 (20% between Curve 1 and Curve 2) the minimum flow is reduced to 1500 CFS.  
 
(4)   To provide more flow for power generation, when lake levels is above 2.5 the minimum flow is increased linearly to 2000 CFS when level reaches the Target Elevation of 3.0.  
 
The tables are also used to determine the maximum daily average flow below the confluence and the maximum daily flow on the Sacandaga River below the Stewarts Bridge Dam.  To meet the requirements for Aggressive Water Storage the maximum daily flow on the Hudson River below the confluence is less than 8000 CFS up to the top of the spillway.  This helps prevent the flow from exceeding the hydraulic capacity of the downstream hydro projects.  It should be noted that at times of high flow on the Hudson River above the confluence the flow may exceed the capacity of the hydro projects despite the fact that water is not being released from the lake.

Results of Negotiations (Historical Comparisons of the Lake Level): The computer model predicts that the lake level will be above 759 feet during September 83% of the time and 80% of the time in October. A comparison of the pre-settlement average daily lake level (1950 - 1999) and the post settlement levels indicate on average, the lake has been one foot above the historical average at the beginning of the boating season (end of May).  By the beginning of July, the level was 1.5 feet above historical average and two feet above historical average at the beginning of August.  The September 1st average level has been 2.75 feet above the historical average level.   On October 12th the post settlement daily average lake level is 759.15 feet, over three feet above the historical average.  

During the summer of 2018 the Sacandaga River and Upper Hudson River watersheds experienced a sever draught and a result, the Great Sacandaga Lake daily average level was near the pre-settlement daily average.  As can be seen in the graph below, above average precipitation in September and October, returned the lake level to the Target Elevation on October 12th.


What is the timeframe for the conditions of the Offer of Settlement Agreement? The fifty-year Offer of Settlement was signed on March 27, 2000.  Some of the requirements were phased in.  

(1) For example, during the winter, the maximum drawdown of the Great Sacandaga Lake occurs typically in late March or April but changes during the agreement.  For the first ten years the drawdowns were limited to 748 feet. From 2010 to 2020, the limit is 749 feet and after 2020 the limit is 750 feet. 

(2) Another example is the amount of base flow on the Sacandaga River below the Stewarts Bridge Dam.  Prior to 2013 the base flow was 25 CFS.  After January 1, 2013 for lake levels above 752 feet the base flow is 350 CFS.  Below 752 feet, the base flow is reduced to 300 CFS or the inflow to the lake whichever is lower.

(3) The project owners were also given a time frame when certain improvements such as installing trash racks with smaller openings, construction of canoe portage and public access had to be completed.

What does it Cost to Operate the Lake and Who Provides the Financial Support?  The Hudson River Black River Regulating District operates on a three year budget. This year’s budget for the Sacandaga Area of the Regulating District is approximately $5.2M.  The district receives the following funding:         

            E. J. West Hydro Project                                                             $1.3M

            Section 10F revenue from Downstream Hydro Projects        $0.5M

            Flood Protection from 5 Downstream Counties                     $3.0M

            Permit System                                                                               $0.4M

How do the Whitewater Companies Benefit?  The Offer of Settlement establishes a schedule for releases of 4000 CFS during whitewater season with the core hours from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm, which enables the companies to schedule trips.  From June 23rd to Sept. 8th daily releases of eight hours are made when the lake level is above 2.35 on the Operational Curves.  The number of hours of release are reduced for lower lake levels.  Weekend releases are made June 1st – June 22nd and Sept. 9th – Sept. 23rd.

The River Management Program, which supports the commercial whitewater activities received financial support to improve a South Side Put-in a North Side Take-out and parking facilities.  The North Side Put-in area was improved for non-commercial use.  The hydro project owner also provided a one-time disbursement of $25,000 in funds that were used to enhance the whitewater activity on the river. 

How do the Lake/River Communities Continue to Benefit from the Offer of Settlement? Other than the obvious benefit of improved Great Sacandaga Lake level control and augmentation of the Hudson River flow, the lake community continues to benefit by the establishment of:

Great Sacandaga Lake Enhancement Fund - $30,000/year is provided improve the ecosystem restoration or protection, fish stocking, natural resource stewardship and new recreation resources upstream of the Conklingville Dam.
 
Sacandaga/Hudson River Enhancement Fund - $10,000/year is provided for improvement project downstream of the Conklingville Dam to the Feeder Dam.

Fisheries Enhancement Fund - $5,000/year is provided for stream habitat and handicapped fishing access that can be used throughout New York State.

Conclusion: The Offer of Settlement establishes technical requirements for the operation of the hydro projects on the Hudson and Sacandaga Rivers that maintains the flows on the rivers that to ensure the quality of the river water and aquatic habitat is maintained while scheduling daily releases from the Great Sacandaga Lake that establish sufficient storage in the spring to prevent downstream flooding.  The technical requirements have increased the lake levels in the late summer and fall to improve the recreational activities on the lake; however, during periods of draught, lake levels may drop several feet below expected levels. 

The hydro project owners also were required to improve access to the rivers and reservoirs, establish schedule for whitewater activity, install trash racks with smaller openings to protect the fish, and provide funding for future improvements.

The final agreement was the result of many years of negotiation between lake community representatives and other interested parties.  It included a detailed analysis of lake water level data accumulated over the life of the reservoir. It implemented an action plan which focused on the management of a 42 square mile 29 mile long reservoir which relies on the waters which nature provides in the Adirondack Mountains.  It is charged with maintaining a water level for lake community residents’ recreational needs while supplying water discharges that maintains the quality of the downstream water and habitat, at the same time satisfy the needs of the hydro power producers and maintains sufficient volume in the lake to restrain flood waters from downriver communities.  

The agreement provides a measured approach to water management but also walks the line of satisfying some of the needs of each of the 29 Offer of Settlement signatories! If one focuses only on the fact that no party to the agreement received everything they wanted, the Offer of Settlement was successful!  

                                                                                                        Appendix

What groups were involved in the negotiation Offer of Settlement Agreement? The negotiations for the Offer of Settlement took ten years and it was signed on March 8, 2000 by 29 organizations including the following lake community organizations:

Great Sacandaga Lake Association

Great Sacandaga Lake Fisheries Federation, Inc.

Great Sacandaga Lake Marinas

Fulton and Saratoga County Board of Supervisors

Town of Hadley. 
 
Other signatory organizations include:
 
Adirondack Boardsailing Club Inc.

Adirondack Council

Adirondack Mountain Club

Adirondack Park Agency

Adirondack River Outfitters, Inc.

America Rivers

American Whitewater

Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks

Erie Boulevard Hydropower

Feeder Canal Alliance

Glens Falls Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club

HRBRRD

Hudson River Rafting Co. Inc.

International Paper

National Park Service

New York Rivers United

New York State Conservation Council

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation

Sacandaga Outdoor Center

Trout Unlimited

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

W.I.L.D.W.A.T.E.R.S
 
The significance of the above list of signatures is that if any party seeks an amendment or a new license that is materially inconsistent with the provisions of the Offer of Settlement, they must notify all parties and give them 60 days written notice.  This could result in attempts to renegotiate other parts of the agreement.    




 
                                                                      Tables

Table B:         Operation of Great Sacandaga Lake to Target Flow Augmentation Needs on the Hudson River Just Below the Confluence with the Sacandaga River (from License Issuance to June 1, 2013)
 
Great Sacandaga Level                  Minimum Average Daily Flow Target confluence with the Sacandaga River (CFS)

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1.00 – 1.19 (Note: 2)                                                                      1,5004
1.20 – 2.50 (Notes: 3.4)                                                                 1,760
2.50 – 3.00 (Note: 3)                                                                      2,250
      3.50      (Note: 3)                                                                      3,000 
      4.00      (Note: 3)                                                                      4,000

Table C:         Operation of Great Sacandaga Lake to Target Flow Augmentation Needs on the Hudson River Just Below the                Confluence with the Sacandaga River (from June 2, 2013 to License Expiration)

 
Great Sacandaga Level                   Minimum Average Daily Flow Target confluence with the Sacandaga River (CFS)_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

1.00 – 1.19 (Note: 1)                                                                           1,500 (Note: 4)
1.20 – 2.50  (Note: 3)                                                                          1,760
       3.00       (Note: 3)                                                                         2,000
       3.50       (Note: 3)                                                                         3,000
       4.00       (Note: 3)                                                                         4,000

Table D:         Targeted Maximum Hudson River Flow Just Below the Confluence with the Sacandaga River


Great Sacandaga Lake                       Elevation (feet) Targeted Maximum confluence with the Sacandaga River (CFS)_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

735.00 – 755.00                                                                                   6,000
755.01 – 769.00                                                                                   8,000
        769.99                                                                                          10,000
        770.00                                                                                          20,000 
        773.00                                                                                          26,000
    776.0 and above                                                                             32,000

Note:               For those GSL elevations not shown above, the targeted maximum allowable flow should be linearly interpolated.

Table E:         Targeted Maximum Hudson River Flow Just Below the Confluence with the Sacandaga River

Great Sacandaga Lake                       Level Targeted Maximum confluence with the Sacandaga River (CFS)________________________________________________________________________________________________________

1.00 – 1.19                                                                                             4,000
      1.20                                                                                                  6,200
      1.50                                                                                                  6,500
2.50 – 3.00                                                                                             7,500 
      3.50                                                                                                  8,500
      4.00                                                                                                  28,500

Note:               For those GSL elevations not shown above, the targeted maximum allowable flow should be linearly interpolated.

Table F:          Targeted Maximum Flows Below E. J. West 1

Great Sacandaga Lake             Maximum Average Daily Flow Target below EJ Tables B through E take precedence over Table  (cfs)
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

735.00 – 745.00                                                                                      2,000
745.01 – 765.00                                                                                      4,000
        768.00                                                                                             5,400
        771.00                                                                                             8,000
        772.00                                                                                             10,000
        774.00                                                                                             14,000
        777.00                                                                                             25,800

Note:               For those GSL elevations not shown above, the targeted maximum allowable flow should be linearly interpolated.
1.      Table B through Table E take precedence over table F.
2.      NYSDEC and the Regulating district will confer in accordance with Section 3.4.2 to determine the appropriate flow that will be provided below Level Curve 1.00.
3.      For Levels above 1.50, the corresponding minimum average daily flow targets on the Hudson River exceed the 1,760 cfs required for water quality.  The flow targets shown are designed to increase hydro operation efficiency at the Hudson River hydro projects (i.e., generation).
4.      See exception at subsection 3.4.2 (sufficient daily releases must be sufficient to meet the 1,500 cfs instantaneous Hudson River base flow requirement below the Feeder Dam.)

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(2) GSLA GREAT SACANDAGA LAKE COLIFORM MONITORING REPORTS

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GSLA Editor Note:  Each of the two 2014  interim reports and the two 2015 interim reports contained an identical project description, action level statement and suggestions for interpretation.  For this reason, the project description and other introductory notes are presented once.  The results of  both samplings are contained in the combined 2014-2015 Great Sacandaga Lake Coliform Monitoring Report table at the end of the report.  All reports are available upon request to the GSLA.

Summary of Findings (Comments - 17-Aug-15) "The day was clear and calm with water temperatures in the range of 77 - 81 degrees F (25 - 27 degrees C).  I noticed some blue green algae growth near the Mayfield Spillway and at Woods Hollow Marina where the Kenyetto drains into the Great Sacandaga Lake.  All bacterial samples, however, fell within contact recreation standards even at sites actively being used by bathers and boaters."  (Lawrence W. Eichler, Research Scientist)

Summary of Findings (Comments - 07-20-15) "All samples fell within contact recreation standards even sites actively being used by bathers and boaters." (Lawrence W. Eichler, Research Scientist)

Summary of Findings (Comments - 07-Jul-14): "All samples fell within contact recreation standards, but the Conklingville Dam access point did produce 630 fecal coliform colonies per 100 ml of sample.  There were a number of ducks at this location at the time of sampling.  I plan on collecting a second sample there on Monday, July 14th to verify the sample result.  I have attached the updated first interim report for 2014.  The resample at the Conklingville Dam access point declined from 630 fecal coliform colonies per 100 ml of sample on July 7th to 47 colonies on July 14th.  There were a number of ducks at this location at the time of the first sampling, a potential source for coliform bacteria."  (Lawrence W. Eichler, Research Scientist)

Summary of Findings (Comments - 04-Aug-14): " I have attached the second interim report for 2014, with samples collected on August 4, 2014.  The day was clear and calm with water temperatures in the range of 77 – 81o F (25 – 27o C).  All samples fell within contact recreation standards, including a sample from the Conklingville Dam access point which had generated an elevated fecal coliform result back in early July.  A resample the next week produced fewer than 50 fecal coliform colonies per 100 ml of sample.  There were a number of ducks at this location at the time of sampling in July which may account for the one elevated fecal coliform result." (Lawrence W. Eichler, Research Scientist) 


GREAT SACANDAGA LAKE
COLIFORM MONITORING PROGRAM – 2014-2015
REPORTS

prepared for
The Great Sacandaga Lake Association
By
Lawrence W. Eichler, Research Scientist
&
Charles W. Boylen, Associate Director Darrin Fresh Water Institute
5060 Lakeshore Drive Bolton Landing, NY 12814
2014/2015
Great Sacandaga Lake Coliform Monitoring Program

The Great Sacandaga Lake Coliform Monitoring Program (GSLCMP) for 2014-2015 is designed to quantify the
bacterial water quality at selected locations in Great Sacandaga Lake for contact recreation
purposes.  Public bathing facilities, recreational areas and runoff locations will be a primary
focus.  Approximately 12 shoreline locations will be sampled during July and an additional 12
locations sampled in August.  The time interval coincides with the period of maximum population
density and intensity of recreational use. Two primary measurements will be made for each sample:
Total Coliform (TC) and Fecal Coliform (FC) Bacteria.  These bacteria serve as indicators of the
presence of animal or human waste. The presence of elevated levels of these bacteria indicate
potentially disease-causing protozoa, bacteria and other microorganisms may be present in the
water.  Follow-up sampling will be conducted within 48 hours for any public beach samples exceeding
contact recreation standards (Table 1) at the discretion of the lake association. Sampling sites
will be chosen in consultation with the Great Sacandaga Lake Association (GSLA). DFWI personnel
will attempt to assist the local regulatory authorities with location of bacterial sources, working
closely with the county and local authorities to locate and correct sources of contamination. 
Follow-up investigations by the NYS Department of Health, NYS Department of Environmental
Conservation and county and local government personnel are encouraged at sites with elevated fecal
coliform levels.

Action Levels of the Great Sacandaga Lake Coliform Monitoring Program

In order to respond effectively to contamination problems detected during the Great Sacandaga Lake
Coliform Monitoring Program, the following actions will occur for bathing beach samples:

1.   If 200 or more fecal coliform bacteria per 100 milliliters are reported, the site will be
resampled during the next sampling cycle.

2.   If 400 or more fecal coliform bacteria per 100 milliliters are reported, the site will be
resampled within 24 to 48 hours. The data for both samples will be reported to the GSLAC.  They
will accept responsibility for contacting the appropriate regulatory agencies.

Follow-up samples to locate specific shoreline problems are not within the guidelines of this
program and will be the responsibility of the appropriate regulatory agencies. The Darrin Fresh
Water Institute will provide technical assistance upon request, however the cost of additional
sampling and analysis must be covered by the local, county or state agency responsible for water
quality complaints.

SUGGESTIONS FOR INTERPRETATION OF COLIFORM DATA

New York State Department of Health has determined maximum allowable bacterial levels for contact
recreation (swimming, wading, etc.).  A table of these bacterial concentrations is included.  When
these maximum bacterial levels are exceeded, the New York State Department of Health is empowered
to close the location to bathing until the problem or problems are corrected.  These levels are
used by the Darrin Fresh Water Institute to determine appropriate responses to various bacterial
concentrations found during sampling. A table of these responses is included.
Interpretation of data to determine and locate sources of contamination (human or other
warm-blooded animal) requires more than just current bacterial levels. A knowledge of past history
of the site, weather, geology of the area, drainage patterns, and some information on human
activities in the area are also useful. To differentiate between human waste and that produced by
other warm-blooded animals, it is sometimes helpful to refer to the ratio of fecal coliform to
Enterococcus bacteria (FC/EC).  An FC/EC ratio of 4 or greater is generally considered indicative
of contamination of human origin.  Enterococcus (EC) Bacteria abundance will be determined for any
resample locations.
 
Table 1.  New York State coliform bacteria standards for bathing beaches.

Maximum Allowable Levels of Coliform Bacteria in Waters Used for Contact Recreation (NYS Dept. of
Health)

Bacterial Test                   Max. 5 Sample Mean               Max. Single Result                                                                                                        Total   Coliform                     2400 per 100 mls
Fecal Coliform                       200 per 100 mls                     1000 per 100 mls
Enterococcus                         33 per 100 mls                        61 per 100 mls

Definitions
TC – Total Coliform Bacteria FC – Fecal Coliform Bacteria EC – Enterococcus Bacteria
FC/EC – Ratio of Fecal Coliform to Enterococcus Bacteria TNTC – Too Numerous to Count
CONF – Confluent growth of target bacteria MAT – Confluent growth of non-target bacteria
? – High background, referring to non-target growth of bacteria interfering with counts of target
bacteria
lt – Less than
LA – Laboratory accident preventing enumeration of bacteria


2014 GREAT SACANDAGA LAKE COLIFORM MONITORING PROGRAM

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              SITE                                               
        DATE       TC/100ml               FC/100ml                 FS/100ml          FC/FS                  NOTES          
Town of Broadalbin
Broadalbin Fishing Access7-Jul-143821No bathers, clear
17-Aug-15260Bathers, slightly turbid, 77 degrees F
NYS DEC Boat Launch Broadalbin04-Aug-14124?12Clear, cool, boaters
20-Jul-1510021Boaters, warm, 81
degrees F
Town of Day
Allentown Creek7-Jul-14          610200Clear, moderate flow
20-Jul-15330138Low flow, cool, algae
Saratoga County Boat Launch7-Jul-14          104Clear, 1 boater
04-Aug-1426?2Clear, cool
20-Jul-15194Clear, boats, 75 degrees F
17-Aug-1576Choppy, slightly turbid, 75 degrees F
Town of Day Beach 7-Jul-14          641 bather, clear
   04-Aug-1412?1t 1Clear, cool, no bathers
20-Jul-1541Clear, no bathers, 75 degrees F
17-Aug-1533Bather, clear, calm, 75 degrees F
Sand Creek17-Aug-15506Low flow, clear, 63 degrees F
Town of Edinburg
Ponderosa Pines Beach7-Jul-1423148No bathers, clear
04-Aug-1451?36Clear, cool, ducks
20-Jul-15161No bathers, clear, 77 degrees F
17-Aug-15It 10It 1No bathers, choppy, 77 degrees F
Town of Luzerne
Conklingville Dam7-Jul-141110?630Clear, ducks
14-Jul-147647Clear, calm
04-Aug-14163018Clear, cool, bathers
17-Aug-15808Bathers, clear, calm, 77 degrees F
Town of Mayfield
McMurray Boat Livery04-Aug-14127?5Clear, cool
17-Aug-15705Clear, calm, 81 degrees F
Vandenburg Point Swim Area7-Jul-1460?27No bathers, clear
20-Jul-1530?39Bathers, warm, 81 degrees F
Woods Hollow Marina7-Jul-1426067No boaters, clear
20-Jul-1560?100Turbid, floating debris, 81 degrees F
17-Aug-15906Turbid, algae, 77 degrees F
Cranberry Cove Marina04-Aug-1463?28Clear, cool, bathers
20-Jul-1510028Clear, calm, 81 degrees F
Mayfield Lake Spillway17-Aug-152020Low flow, foam, turbid, 77 degrees F
Mayfield Town Beach04-Aug-1481?10Clear, cool
Town of Northampton
Little Lake Outlet04-Aug-1443?7Clear, cool
Northville Little Lake20-Jul-15105Fishermen, clear, 81 degrees F
Northville Town Beach7-Jul-144521Clear, no bathers, calm
04-Aug-1467?3Clear, cool
20-Jul-151712No bathers, warm, 81 degrees F
17-Aug-15104No bathers, calm, 77 degrees F
NYS DEC Northampton Beach7-Jul-14166No bathers, clear, gulls
04-Aug-1499?7Clear, cool, gulls
20-Jul-154411No bathers, warm, 81 degrees F
17-Aug-15103Bathers, calm, gulls, 77 degrees F
Sacandaga Beach/Sport Island Pub7-Jul-143319Clear, no bathers
04-Aug-1489?11Clear, cool
20-Jul-1532?10Bathers, warm, 81 degrees F
17-Aug-15407No bathers, calm, 77 degrees F
Town of Providence
Providence Town Beach7-Jul-142314Clear, no bathers
04-Aug-14148?1Clear, cool, no bathers
20-Jul-153010Bathers, warm, 81 degrees F
17-Aug-153018No bathers, clear, calm, 81 degrees F

                                                             

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GSLA Editor Note:  Each of the two 2013  interim reports contained an identical project description, action level statement and suggestions for interpretation.  For this reason, the project description and other introductory notes are presented once.  The results of  both samplings are contained in the combined 2013 Great Sacandaga Lake Coliform Monitoring Report table at the end of the report.  Each report is available upon request to the GSLA.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS:  "Public bathing facilities, recreational areas and runoff locations were the primary focus of bacterial testing in 2013.  Bacterial levels were low at nearly all sites and within acceptable limits of recreational use based on NYS DOH Standards."  (Lawrence W. Eichler, Research Scientist)

______________________________________________________________________________________

GREAT SACANDAGA LAKE
COLIFORM MONITORING PROGRAM – 2013
COMBINED RESULTS: FIRST AND SECOND INTERIM REPORTS

(WATER SAMPLING: JULY 15 AND AUGUST 19, 2013)
prepared for


The Great Sacandaga Lake Association
By
Lawrence W. Eichler, Research Scientist
&
Charles W. Boylen, Associate Director Darrin Fresh Water Institute
5060 Lakeshore Drive Bolton Landing, NY 12814

         _______________________________________________________________________________________

Great Sacandaga Lake Coliform Monitoring Program

 The Great Sacandaga Lake Coliform Monitoring Program (GSLCMP) for 2013 is designed to quantify the bacterial water quality at selected locations in Great Sacandaga Lake for contact recreation purposes.  Public bathing facilities, recreational areas and runoff locations will be a primary focus.  Approximately 12 shoreline locations will be sampled during July and an additional 12 locations sampled in August.  The time interval coincides with the period of maximum population density and intensity of recreational use. Two primary measurements will be made for each sample: Total Coliform (TC) and Fecal Coliform (FC) Bacteria.  These bacteria serve as indicators of the presence of animal or human waste. The presence of elevated levels of these bacteria indicate potentially disease-causing protozoa, bacteria and other microorganisms may be present in the water.  Follow-up sampling will be conducted within 48 hours for any samples exceeding contact recreation standards (Table 1) at the discretion of the lake association. Should adjacent public swimming areas exist, they will be sampled along with any follow-up sampling efforts. Sampling sites will be chosen in consultation with the Great Sacandaga Lake Association (GSLA). DFWI personnel will  attempt to assist the local regulatory authorities with location of bacterial sources, working closely with the county and local authorities to locate and correct sources of contamination. Follow-up investigations by the NYS Department of Health, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and county and local government personnel are encouraged at sites with elevated fecal coliform levels.

Action Levels of the Great Sacandaga Lake Coliform Monitoring Program

In order to respond effectively to contamination problems detected during the Great Sacandaga Lake Coliform Monitoring Program, the following actions will occur:

1. If 200 or more fecal coliform bacteria per 100 milliliters are reported, the site will be resampled during the next sampling cycle.
2. If 400 or more fecal coliform bacteria per 100 milliliters are reported, the site will be resampled within 24 to 48 hours. The data for both samples will be reported to the GSLAC. They will accept responsibility for contacting the appropriate regulatory agencies.

Follow-up samples to locate specific shoreline problems are not within the guidelines of this program and will be the responsibility of the appropriate regulatory agencies. The Darrin Fresh Water Institute will provide technical assistance upon request, however the cost of additional sampling and analysis must be covered by the local, county or state agency responsible for water quality complaints.

 SUGGESTIONS FOR INTERPRETATION OF COLIFORM DATA

New York State Department of Health has determined maximum allowable bacterial levels for contact recreation (swimming, wading, etc.).  A table of these bacterial concentrations is included.  When these maximum bacterial levels are exceeded, the New York State Department of Health is empowered to close the location to bathing until the problem or problems are corrected.  These levels are used by the Darrin Fresh Water Institute to determine appropriate responses to various bacterial concentrations found during sampling. A table of these responses is included.

Interpretation of data to determine and locate sources of contamination (human or other warm-blooded animal) requires more than just current bacterial levels. A knowledge of past history of the site, weather, geology of the area, drainage patterns, and some information on human activities in the area are also useful. To differentiate between human waste and that produced by other warm-blooded animals, it is sometimes helpful to refer to the ratio of fecal coliform to Enterococcus bacteria (FC/EC).  An FC/EC ratio of 4 or greater is generally considered indicative of contamination of human origin.  Enterococcus (EC) Bacteria abundance will be determined for any resample locations.

Table 1.  New York State coliform bacteria standards for bathing beaches.
Maximum Allowable Levels of Coliform Bacteria in Waters Used for Contact

Recreation (NYS Dept. of Health)
Bacterial Test Max. 5 Sample Mean Max. Single Result
Total Coliform 2400 per 100 mls  
Fecal Coliform 200 per 100 mls 1000 per 100 mls
Enterococcus 33 per 100 mls 61 per 100 mls

 Definitions

TC – Total Coliform Bacteria
FC – Fecal Coliform Bacteria EC – Enterococcus Bacteria
FC/EC – Ratio of Fecal Coliform to Enterococcus Bacteria TNTC – Too Numerous to Count
CONF – Confluent growth of target bacteria MAT – Confluent growth of non-target bacteria
? – High background, referring to non-target growth of bacteria interfering with counts of target bacteria
lt – Less than
LA – Laboratory accident preventing enumeration of bacteria

2013 GREAT SACANDAGA LAKE COLIFORM MONITORING PROGRAM

              Site                    Date                     TC/100ml               FC/100ml                      NOTES          

Town Of Broadalbin
Broadalbin Fishing Access
Broadalbin Fishing Access



15-Jul-13

19-Aug-13



56?

9



30

7



Bathers, clear, 27°C
Clear, cool, bathers
Town of Day
Allentown Creek

15-Jul-13

900

180

Clear, 18°C, Moderate flow
Saratoga Boat Launch15-Jul-13152Clear, high water
Town of Day Beach

Town of Day Beach
15-Jul-13

19-Aug-13
17?

11
14

1
No bathers, high water, clear
Calm, clear, no bathers
Town of Edinburg
Ponderosa Pines Beach

Ponderosa Pines Beach

15-Jul-13

1-Aug-13

80?

17

20?

3

No bathers, clear, 26°C
Choppy, clear, no bathers
Town of Mayfield  Kennyetto Creek @ Route 30

Kennyetto Creek @ Route 30*   


15-Jul-13


19-Aug-13


1200


460
FS/100 ml (230)


380


290
FC/FS (1.3)


Brown, Moderate flow, clear, 21°C

Low flow, cool, clear
Mayfield Town Beach  

Mayfield Town Beach                           

15-Jul-13

19-Aug-13

120

8

80

2

No bathers, 26°C, slightly turbid
 Clear, calm, 1 bather
Vandenburg Point Swim Area

Vandenburg Point Swim Area            

15-Jul-13


19-Aug-13

52


20

13?


14

Bathers, clear, 27°C

Calm, clear, no bathers
Woods Hollow Marina
19-Aug-13

2

It 1

Cool, calm
Town of Northampton
Little Lake Outlet


Northville Town Beach 

Northville Town Beach                        


19-Aug-13



15-Jul-13


19-Aug-13


17



28


1?


9



12


It 1


Calm, clear, no bathers


High water, no bathers, calm, 25°C
Closed, no bathers, clear
NYS DEC Northampton Beach

Northampton Beach

15-Jul-13

19-Aug-13

10

17

3

9

No bathers, high water, 26°C
Calm, clear, bathers
Sacandaga Beach/Sport Island Pub 

Sacandaga Beach/Sport Island Pub  


15-Jul-13



19-Aug-13


80?



11


6



3


Clear, bathers, 26°C


Clear, calm, bathers
Sacandaga Park Brook19-Aug-1313658Very low flow, clear
Town of Providence
Providence Town Beach

Providence Town Beach


15-Jul-13

19-Aug-13


25

3


2

1


Clear, no bathers, 26°C
Clear, calm, no bathers

________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________

(2) HUDSON RIVER-BLACK RIVER REGULATING DISTRICT REPORTS AND COMMENTS

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Supreme Court, Appellate Division Findings: The court released the decisions on the litigation brought against the Regulating District by the New York State Electric and Gas Corporation and the Northern Electric Power Corporation.  In both decisions, the court supported the Regulating District and dismissed the requests for the refund of assessments requested by the hydropower concerns.  The text of the decisions can be found at New York State Electric and at Northern Electric

Results of the NYS Audit Report on the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District: The Sacandaga Express provided a review of the audit findings which follow by clicking SACANDAGA EXPRESS.  The findings address the overall operation of the Regulating District and include recommendations to the District to increase revenues by considering increases in assessments to statutory beneficiaries and to lake permit holders.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

(3) GSLA WATER LEVEL COMMITTEE REPORTS

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 

GSLA WATER LEVEL COMMITTEE REPORT – MAY 13, 2018 (A Report Prepared by Dave Smail, GSLA Vice-President and Chair of the GSLA Water Level Committee)
___________________________________________________________________________________________

On May 13, 2018, we find the Great Sacandaga Lake level at 767.5 feet, which is approximately 4 inches below the past 88-year average lake level for May 13th and 17  inches above the Target Elevation. The lake level is in good shape for the beginning of the boating season; however, there has been several reports that docks have become adrift.

This raises the question of why the Hudson River Black River Regulating District (HRBRRD) is following the historic water level curve instead of the Target Elevation curve.  Most people believe the Regulating District makes releases from the lake to maintain the lake level at or near the Settlement Target Elevation.  This is only partly true.  In fact, the license (Federal Energy Regulating Commission - Offer of Settlement) under which the HRBRRD operates the Conklingville Dam, requires the district to make releases from the lake to maintain minimum instantaneous flow on the Sacandaga River below the Stewarts Bridge Dam and the Hudson River below the confluence of the Sacandaga and Hudson Rivers.  In addition, the Offer of Settlement sets minimum and maximum daily average flows for the Sacandaga River below the Stewarts Bridge Dam and the Hudson River below the confluence of the Sacandaga and Hudson Rivers.  Each of these limits varies depending upon the current lake level. Year-to-Date curve for the Great Sacandaga Lake Surface Elevations below shows that the lake level has been as much as seven feet above the Target Elevation.  

 
Multiple Water Storage Requirements of the Offer of SettlementAggressive Water Storage is the simple answer to the question of why the Hudson River Black River Regulating District (HRBRRD) is not following the Target Elevation curve. During the development of the Offer of Settlement there were approximately twenty signers of the settlement, each who had a paddle in the water trying to determine how the lake would be controlled.  The hydro companies pushed for what is called “aggressive water storage”.  Each of the hydro projects downstream of the Conklingville Dam are known as “run-of-river” and do not have the capability of storing water.  The projects are not permitted to allow the water level upstream to vary by more than one foot.  For example the Curtis Palmer Hydroelectric Project in Corinth has a total of seven water turbine generators whose combined electrical capacity is approximately 60 megawatts. At full power the combined maximum flow through the project is approximately 8,000 cubic feet per second.  As flows on the Hudson River varies, the operators varies the number of turbines to match the river flow.  When flows on the Hudson River exceed the 8,000 CFS the excess flow bypasses the turbines and the energy is loss.  The hydro projects at Sherman Island and Spier Falls have a maximum hydraulic limit of approximately 9,000 CFS.  The aggressive water storage requirements establishes limits on the releases from the Conklingville Dam to minimize the amount of water that needs to be bypassed by the downstream hydro projects. To determine the required daily release from the lake the Regulating District must first determine the minimum and maximum daily average flow limits on the Hudson River below the confluence of the Sacandaga River based upon the current lake level and where the lake is compared to the operating curves and a set of limits that are established in a set of a half dozen tables within the Offer of Settlement.  For example I have included one of these tables. 

Table F:  Targeted Maximum Hudson River Below E. J. West 
 

Great Sacandaga Level                   Maximum Average Daily Flow Target  Below E.J. West (CFS)

        735.00 – 745.00                                                                             2,000
        755.01 – 769.00                                                                             8,000
               769.99                                                                                   10,000
               770.00                                                                                   20,000
               773.00                                                                                   26,000
      776.0 and above                                                                           32,000

Note: for those GSL elevations that are not given as a range, the maximum allowed flow should be linearly interpolated.

To determine the maximum average daily release from the lake, the Regulating District must first estimate the average daily flow on the Hudson River upstream of the confluence.  That value is subtracted from the smaller limit that is established from Table E or Table F.  For example, if the Regulating District estimates that the average daily flow on the Hudson River upstream of the confluence is slightly less than 6,000 CFS and at an elevation of 755.5 feet, the maximum average flow below the confluence is limited to 8,000 CFS the average daily release would be limited to 2,000 CFS.  When operating the E. J. West Hydro Project at Conklingville Dam releases approximately 4,000 CFS.  To accomplish the average of 2,000 CFS the project would be operated for 12 hours.  You should note that the aggressive water storage establishes limits on lake releases that limits flow on the Hudson River in Corinth that should not exceed the Curtis Palmer hydraulic limit if the Great Sacandaga Lake Level is less than 769 feet unless the flow upstream of the confluence exceeds 8,000 CFS.

The Regulating District must also establish the minimum instantaneous and minimum daily average flows on both the Sacandaga and Hudson Rivers using similar methods and tables.  The scheduled daily release must be between the minimum and maximum release.  For lake levels above the Target Elevation the Regulating District schedules a release near the maximum.  If the lake level is below the Target Elevation, the minimum release is scheduled.  Note there has been no discussion about the inflow into the lake and the Offer of Settlement technical requirements does not address it.  If the release exceeds the inflow the lake level will drop and will go up if the release in less than the inflow.

Does the Great Sacandaga Lake have sufficient storage capacity to prevent flooding during the spring runoff?:  The current flow on the Hudson River above the confluence is  5010 CFS which is slightly below the historical average of 5400 CFS.   For the past week the flows within the watershed has been more than double the historical average.  As a result of the high flows, the Regulating District has minimized the releases from the lake and the lake level increased by approximately 1.5 feet.  On May 11th flows on the Hudson River above the confluence decreased below 6700 CFS and the Regulating District was able to increase releases from the lake and the lake level has stabilized. The Regulating District estimates that the flow on the Hudson River will continue to decrease and is expecting to be able to increase the daily releases and slowly bring the lake level closer to the Target Elevation.  Unless we have a significant increase in precipitation the lake has sufficient storage capacity to prevent downstream flooding.  

The Target Elevation for June 1st is 768 feet.  I estimate the level will be near the Target Elevation for the beginning of the boating season.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

GSLA WATER LEVEL COMMITTEE REPORT – AUGUST 30, 2015 (A Report Prepared by Dave Smail, GSLA Vice-President and Chair of the GSLA Water Level Committee)
___________________________________________________________________________________________

EDITOR’S NOTE: This report was prepared in response to a member’s inquiry concerning the drop in water level in the Great Sacandaga during the month of August, 2015.  The GSLA recognizes that the low water level is a concern and has decided to reformat the original response into report form and share the product with our membership.  This report was shared exclusively with GSLA members on August 31, 2015 through the GSLA e-burst system and issued on September 8, 2015 to non-members.  The report may be seen by linking to AUGUST 30, 2015 WATER LEVEL REPORT.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

GSLA Water Level Committee Report - June 17, 2015:  The following report was issued by Dave Smail, GSLA Vice-President and the Chair of the GSLA Water Level Committee advising the lake community of potentially high waters on the Great Sacandaga as a result of increased precipitation.

Permit holders on the Great Sacandaga Lake should prepare for potential high waters on the lake during the next week. 

At the end of May, the Great Sacandaga Lake watershed had an 8.5 inch deficit in precipitation, resulting in a lake level 3.5 feet below the expected level for June 1st.  However, rain during the first two weeks of June have eliminated much of the deficit and the current lake level is within a half of a foot of the Target Elevation for mid-June, leaving only 3.5 feet of additional storage in the lake.

In the past two weeks, some docks have shifted, broken moorings and floated free on the lake.   Current inflow into the lake is four times the historical average for this date with the lake level expected to continue to increase.

Hurricane Bill, which made landfall in Texas on Tuesday, may bring additional precipitation to our area.  The hurricane is expected to leave large amounts of rain in Texas, Oklahoma, and the Ozarks.  Although it is too early to predict the path of the storm, one should consider the possibility that it may be coming to the Northeast.  With current saturated ground conditions any large storm could potentially increase the lake level by several feet. 

Because Hurricane Bill may impact the Great Sacandaga Lake early next week, it is recommended that individuals in the lake community, especially those who are only at the lake on the weekend, secure boats, docks, and other items in anticipation of the storm and a potential high lake level.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Where Did All the Water Go?
_____________________________________________________________________________________

A Report by Dave Smail, Vice-President of the Great Sacandaga Lake Association and Chair of the GSLA Lake Level Committee.
_____________________________________________________________________________________

 Many of us returned to the Great Sacandaga Lake this year to find the lake level four feet below what we came to expect for this time of year and asked what happened to all of the water!  The simple answer … the water never reached the lake!  The first five months of 2015 left the watershed with an 8.5 inch deficit in precipitation.  The dry spring impacted large sections of Upstate New York.

How is the Water Level Controlled on the Great Sacandaga Lake?
Many lake residents and recreational boaters believe that the Hudson River Black River Regulating District releases water from the Great Sacandaga Lake to control the lake level and keep the level at or near a pre-determined ‘Target Elevation’.  This is only partially true because the district operates the Conklingville Dam under a Federal Energy Regulating Commission license.  The license agreement requires the Regulating District to release water from the lake to maintain both a daily average and an instantaneous flow on the Sacandaga River below the Stewarts Bridge Dam and on the Hudson River below where the Sacandaga River and Hudson River meet.  Therefore, the two factors:  (1) lake level on the Great Sacandaga Lake and (2) the required daily average and instantaneous water flow on the two Rivers (Sacandaga River below the Stewarts Bridge Dam and on the Hudson River below the confluence) shape the Regulating District’s daily water decisions.

The requirements recognize historical precipitation and establish daily average minimums and maximum requirements based upon current water level on the lake. The Regulating District attempts to maintain the lake level near the ‘Target Elevation’ by maximizing the release when the level is above the target lake level and minimizes the release when it is below the target lake level.

Why is the Great Sacandaga Lake Lower than Usual?
Why is the Great Sacandaga Lake 3.5 feet below the 768 feet water level we expected on June 1st?  Due to the lack of precipitation in March and April, the low flow on the Hudson River above the confluence of the Sacandaga and Hudson Rivers required the Regulating District to make releases that by late March resulted in a lake level which was a foot and one half below the expected 749 foot. 

This year’s winter was very cold and the snow pack within the watershed was near historical average when we approached March.  Most everyone, including the District, expected warm weather and rain in April. With the ground frozen most of the rain and snow melt within the watershed ends up in the lake and historically increases the lake level at rate of one foot per day during April.  At the beginning of April, the Regulating District believed that they were well positioned with the lake level at 747.5 feet.  If the snow melt were accompanied with four inches of rain over the month the lake level would have been over the spillway!  However, April of 2015 did not bring rain, and with warm weather, the snow melted and most of the water never reached the lake because of the distance traveled within the watershed, water evaporation, absorption into ground water or absorption by vegetation prior to reaching the lake.  To put things in prospective, a storm that dropped one inch of rain on the watershed when the ground is frozen or saturated would increase the lake level close to two feet over the next few days.  If the storm were to arrive during a drought in the growing season the observed increase in lake level may be less than a foot.

The good news is that at the beginning of June we received rain for several days and the lake level increased by more than a foot and on June 5th, the water level is 765.5 feet.  The flow into the lake is currently twice the normal historical average and if the drought has been broken and we receive historical precipitation, the lake will slowly return to the 768 feet expected for this time of the season.