State Senator John Bonacic (R/I/C - Mt. Hope), has asked Governor Pataki to have emergency officials review flooding across the Catskills and Hudson Valley caused in the past few days. "It is clear that this flooding merits a disaster declaration. Roads have been washed out and families evacuated. I have asked the Governor to send SEMO into our counties and start providing help," Bonacic said.
"I have received calls from constituents who have been flooded during the past few days. They attribute that flooding in large part to poor reservoir management. Farmers and homeowners along creeks and near reservoirs have informed me of hundred of thousands of dollars of damages to property," Bonacic said.
Bonacic also spoke with Charles Sturcken of the DEP on the City's response to the rain. The City, earlier this year, implemented a rain pack release at the Neversink and Pepacton Reservoirs. Under that plan, water would be released from the reservoirs until March 31 when rains came at a certain level. Bonacic, weeks ago, asked DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd to work in support of modifying that artificial March 31 date.
"To end the water releases on March 31 is arbitrary. Mother nature, not agency employees, should determine when the water releases should end," Bonacic said. On average, the City's reservoir system is at 99.7%. Normally, the reservoirs are 96.8% full. What makes the slightly higher than average level significant, however, is that the Schoharie Reservoir is only 77% full - meaning all other reservoirs are collectively several billion gallons above average.
The Senate earlier this year passed legislation with wide, bipartisan support, which would have required the City to lower reservoir levels whenever any major inflow of water, such as the rains of the past few days, was anticipated. The Assembly took no action on the legislation, nor did the Assembly offer any alternative plan to protect residents who live near City reservoirs.