Reservoirs working overtime with rains

MAYFIELD — With more rain in the forecast this weekend and predicted rises for local rivers and streams, the operation of the Great Sacandaga Lake and Indian Lake reservoirs is playing an important role in reducing impacts related to flooding along the Hudson River, according to a news release.

Each year, these reservoirs provide storage for water that would otherwise flow directly downstream into the Hudson River unimpeded, primarily during the spring runoff. Without the operation of these reservoirs by the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District, flooding downstream would be much worse.

For instance, the Great Sacandaga Lake and Indian Lake reservoirs provided 2.07 billion cubic feet of water storage on Monday, preventing the Hudson River from reaching major flood stage from the town of Hadley to Fort Edward following recent heavy rainfall and runoff from seasonal snowmelt. The state’s two Hudson River regulating reservoirs stored more than 15.48 billion gallons of runoff during the event, reducing the peak Hudson River flow by about 23,695 cubic feet per second — or by about 50 percent.

Without the combined storage capacity of the state’s Hudson River regulating reservoirs, Hudson River flow at Corinth would have peaked at more than 46,000 cfs and would have resulted in Hudson River flow exceeding major flood stage at Fort Edward by more than 1.6 feet on Monday. Operation of the Great Sacandaga Lake reduced the height of flood water by more than 4.9 feet, significantly reducing potential flood damage to buildings, roads and bridges in Hadley, Corinth, South Glens Falls, Glens Falls, Hudson Falls and Fort Edward.

If Great Sacandaga Lake had not been constructed to retain a flood event like that which occurred on Monday then major flooding including roads in Northumberland, camps in Lake Luzerne, parts of Route 9N in Corinth, and numerous roads and property in the village of Fort Edward would have been inundated.

The Hudson River-Black River Regulating District continues to monitor current water levels and forecasts closely and is making preparations to operate valves at the Conklingville Dam the week of April 22 if conditions warrant in response to rising levels on Sacandaga Reservoir.

The mission of the regulation district — which traces its roots to the formation of the Black River Regulating District 100 years ago this year — is to protect public health and safety by regulating the flow of waters in the upper Hudson River and the Black River. The Black River and Hudson River Regulating Districts were formed by the State Legislature in 1919 and 1922, respectively, to regulate water flows within those river basins and reduce flooding. The two districts were combined in 1959. As part of its mission, the district maintains five reservoirs in upstate New York, including the Great Sacandaga Lake, the state’s largest reservoir.