Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dodging bullets

It appears as though the snake oil salesmen stocking the Hudson River Black River Regulating District’s administration again dodged a bullet. After taking the Great Sacandaga Lake to a 77-year high, the level of the flood control reservoir is finally starting to recede, thanks to an uncommonly dry spring. Don’t worry, chirped Robert Foltan, the public authority’s chief engineer; there’s no problem here.

It’s a claim Foltan likes to make every time the news media starts sniffing around his fiefdom at the district’s offices in Fulton County. Does it really matter the lake surpassed an all-time high during a year that wasn’t exactly a record breaker when it came to snow pack. Who cares that erosion around the lake is rampant? And most of all, what does it matter if 283 billion gallons of water is slamming in to the aging structure that is the only thing standing between the downstream communities and an apocalyptic wall of water?

Administrators of Foltan’s ilk take glee in dismissing claims that the lake levels might be causing untold problems. Whenever the roughly 4,700 property owners around the lake complain about the high levels, he rightly points out the lake was created to control flooding on the Hudson River, into which the once meandering Sacandaga still flows. By stowing water in the lake each spring, the regulating district can allow the Hudson to drop below flood stage level, thereby preventing untold damage in low-lying areas as far north as Fort Edward and south at the Port of Albany.

With this mission at hand, Foltan claims it’s not the regulating district’s job to protect property owners around the lake. After all, the state owns every bit of shoreline lying 775 feet above sea level, or 7 feet over the 768-foot high water mark.

But what Foltan always seems to omit from the equation is the regulating district’s role in storing away more water than they were originally intended to withhold from the natural flow. Six years ago, they penned a 40-year agreement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that allowed for the “aggressive use of storage capacity” on the reservoir.

By keeping the lake uncommonly high, the regulating district can release more water during the summer months, when the Hudson slows to a crawl. This allows the downstream hydroelectric companies –major lobbyists during the 2002 settlement agreement –to cash in on power generation during months when their facilities would otherwise languish.

Simply put, this policy is playing a dangerous game of chicken with Mother Nature. Had any significant rainfall struck the Adirondacks, there certainly would have been massive flooding along the Hudson and few options for the regulating district, other than offering several of their surplus row boats to downtown Albany.

More ominous is the level of erosion around the 125-mile-long shoreline caused by this hyper-storage. Anyone familiar with the sandy banks of the Sacandaga can attest, there’s been a lot of erosion since the settlement agreement was signed. In areas where there were once rolling sand beaches, there are now mudflats. Some parts of South Shore Road, the lake’s main thoroughfare through Saratoga County, appear to be threatened by the undermining of the shoreline.

The aging Batchellerville Bridge is surely taking a pounding from the six years of aggressive storage. Though the bridge is scheduled for replacement within the next three years, it still serves as the only passage between the lake’s north and south shores. And let’s not forget when the bridge was downgraded for an entire summer not too long ago.

The largest erosion concern caused by this storage policy could lie beneath the earthen dam itself. Though the regulating district claims to inspect the Conklingville Dam with vigor, they also have a nasty habit of leaving out details. For instance, they downplayed work on the dam’s spillway two years ago and didn’t think that failing of three emergency release valves last year was that big of a deal.

Perhaps they don’t care because they don’t need to care. Few members of the public know what the inherently corrupt regulating district is, much less that it actually purports to regulate something. And for decades, the public authority has served as a veritable dumping ground for political patronage. Though the governor-appointed board of directors conducts monthly public meetings, they often conduct them in obscure locations not likely to draw the sparse collection of activists and reporters actually following their transgressions.

For the time being, the Sacandaga issues are out of sight and out of mind for the public, which is largely removed from the process of its regulation. But as the lake regulators become more aggressive with their water storage and problems around the Hudson watershed compound, the public may find itself investigating a broad color of these issues once that bullet finally hits.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you look at the picture of the Batchellerville Bridge in the link that you provided - the water was up to the very top of the concrete pilings....Maybe Phil Klein, with his newly appointed worthless job, is floating somewhere in the Sacandaga. One could only hope.

12:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“the Sacandaga issues are out of sight and out of mind for the public”

How can you discuss the Sacandaga when the fate of western civilization hangs in the balance?

Yes HORATIO I am talking about the Hot Dog Man. I don’t know were you go on Broadway but everyone I talk to is really pissed. I’m not sure what it is but something hit a raw nerve when Eddie was booted from the park.

2:10 PM  
Anonymous Kyle York said...


Someday in the not-so-distant future, your criticism of the managers of the Great Sacandaga will be read, re-read... all as part of the postmortem after the river takes its revenge. My great-grandfather had his bountiful valley farm taken in 1929 so The State could save the down-river towns from the periodic floods when the Sacandaga and Hudson Rivers combined their power.

God-the-Engineer proved "The Sac" was the deadly key to the floods, and the God-the-Government said the York Farm would save lives if we agreed to bury it forever under 80 feet of water. It seemed a raw deal to all the old-timers, but today I accept my family's substantial sacrifice in return for "a greater good." The floods that made the farmland so productive were the floods that added more power than the Hudson could safely carry.

For 78 years, all 1100 "evacuated" residents lived with that trade-off of personal profit for flood protection. Most residents never agreed and remained bitter until their dying day. "We're from the Government and we're here to help you."

Today, it's a deal gone terribly sour. The spillway of the dam is a last-ditch safety feature. The photo here of the Niagara-like torrent raging over the spillway is a criminal's Mug Shot of inept mismanagement. I can add little to your spot-on critique... except to let you and your readers know that we are now living through a historic moment, one that may not sear into your memory like the shuttles Challenger or Columbia... but some day you will remember this-- Today, April 23, marks the TENTH consecutive day of water thundering over the spillway. Never before has the dam and the shoreline been hammered so HIGH for so LONG. Never. And don't stop counting days until the spillway goes "dry" at 771 feet.

Ten-day floods were avoided in the past by engineers who anticipated the spring snowmelt by releasing water to create storage. Study this link (below) to the historic water level and you'll see the dotted line is where you should be on any average day in any average year. This year, the idiots sat on fat water that was fifty feet higher than it should have been before the predictable annual April thaw came on like a fluid freight train--

My friend Horatio, not even YOU know how close that whizzing bullet came. The weather prediction for April 12 was thunderstorms to be followed by a full day of heavy rain across the region on Sunday the 13th. That was the forecast as late as Friday the 11th. Through some small miracle, Saturday dawned clear and Sunday followed with more of the same.

Don't ever for one minute think "Your Government" kept the river towns safe, from Corinth to Albany.

Somewhere, there is a God. And he's keeping his deal with my Great-grandfather. But I'm beginning to grow bitter at the human incomptents behind this Damn crime-in-the-making.

5:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


6:58 PM  
Anonymous American Legion Legend said...

anon 2:10

I have found out there is more than just drinking and doing drugs at the local club. No one gives a shit about some pork salesman. This is not small town America in this city anymore. If you are searching for your past then move to Ballston Spa.

3:29 AM  
Anonymous Mamie said...

For anyone who wants to get the real poop on the park pork issue,
anon 2:10 has been porked in the poop. His obsession with this hot dog man is disturbing. No one on broadway or any other street in town gives a rats ass about the hot dog man. They do care that yet again McTygue has come back to haunt them once again. He created this problem by illegally allowing this guy to sell there. John Franck is just as guilty because he issued the permit. "Hang'em both in Town Square, I say."

4:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

demroc said:let it go wiener lover. at least leave your wiener crusade on the last message post. the public doesn't care about your red herring issues."he's taught in his school, from the start by the rule, that the laws are with him, to protect his white skin, to keep up the hate, so he never thinks straight, bout the shape that he's in, but it ain't him to blame, he's only a pawn in the game"

5:09 AM  
Anonymous Milhouse said...

Well thank God for Kyle York and his forebears! Where would we be without them?!?! I guess we'd just be another Cohoes.

6:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Lennon, another extremely smart man in striped pants . . .
The below song, if you care to listen, it's definitely worthwhile.
"but you're still fuckin' peasants as far as I can see..." Comes from the song Working Class Hero. What I find more prevalent in this song is "... Keep you doped with religion, sex and TV..." As in the most recent post about the Great Sacandaga Lake.
How many people even knew Phil Klein was appointed Hudson River Black River Regulating District’s administration and that he was on the Saratoga County Water Committee praising this plan (for the appointment?) and is there a correlation. And while we are talking water and stench, does anyone know what that wretched smell is coming from on Ballston Ave where they are digging to bury the pipes for the county water plan? It smells so horrendous that I would not be surprised if it is toxic.

6:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That smell coming from the pipes on Ballston Ave. is the dead and dying corpse of Saratoga Springs' past. Some day the dumb dam will break and wash away most of Saratoga County enabling us to start over and keep out all undesirable carpet baggers. I hear McTygue is building an arc on the farm. Hot dogs available on the lower deck!


7:22 AM  
Blogger Wrath of Keehn said...

Yes Yes The American Legion Is a Opium Den arrest THEM all. Anyone caught eating a hot dog will be imprisoned all people must wear their underwear outside their pants that way we can check to make sure you have them on. Do you hear me I am your leader OBEY OBEY.

8:11 AM  
Anonymous Lil Vanguuard said...

Yes, it is true.

This is ALL McTygue's fault.

They told me at the NXIVM meeting on Wells Street Tuesday.

Val smiled smugly.

9:50 AM  

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