Oct 12, 2010

NYC DEP to Activate Ashokan Reservoir Waste Channel

Release of water will improve water quality

Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway today announced that Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will activate the Ashokan Reservoir Waste Channel and release up to 450 million gal per day from the Ashokan Reservoir for the next few weeks. The releases will improve water quality in the reservoir, which saw an increase in turbidity levels as the result of rainstorms on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. Turbidity, or cloudiness, is a measure of the quality of water. Releasing water to the waste channel also will reduce reservoir levels, which will increase the reservoir’s ability to capture runoff from intense storms. The waste channel is a concrete canal used to convey water released in a controlled manner from the reservoir through the upper and lower gate chambers to the Little Beaverkill stream and lower Esopus Creek.
“We want to make sure the nine million New Yorkers who rely on us every day get the highest quality water, and take whatever measures we can to assist in the protection of the upstate communities that are home to the city’s water supply,” said Commissioner Holloway. “Releasing water from the Ashokan Waste Channel will help cut the turbidity caused by recent heavy storms and proactively moving water also helps cushion storm impacts that can affect downstream communities. DEP is developing cutting edge tools to enable more precise management of our water supply, improving the operational flexibility that makes releases like this possible.”
To help with forecasting reservoir levels in deciding to activate the waste channel, DEP used the Operations Support Tool, a computer system that enables DEP’s water supply operators to more accurately predict water storage levels in the city’s reservoirs. This allows DEP to better manage the movement of water throughout the reservoir system, and ultimately, to the nine million New Yorkers who rely on the city’s drinking water every day.
Located in Ulster County, the Ashokan Reservoir is approximately 13 miles west of Kingston and 73 miles north of New York City. It was formed by the damming of Esopus Creek, which eventually flows northeast and drains into the Hudson River. The reservoir holds 127.9 billion gal at full capacity and was opened in 1915.
DEP manages the city’s water supply, providing more than 1 billion gal of water each day to more than 9 million residents, including 8 million in New York City, and residents of Ulster, Orange, Putnam and Westchester counties. New York City’s water is delivered from the Catskill, Delaware and Croton watersheds that extend more than 125 miles from the city, and comprises 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes.