Monday, November 28, 2005

Irony, Thou Art Like Water

Dam at a Catskill Reservoir Needs Emergency Repair, City Says

Published: November 28, 2005
FULTONHAM, N.Y., Nov. 23 - A massive 78-year-old dam in the Catskill Mountains that is owned by New York City does not meet state safety standards and will have to undergo emergency repairs before next spring's snow melt.

City officials said there was a remote possibility that the Gilboa Dam would fail if there was a record storm and snow melt, sending the 20 billion gallons of water in the Schoharie Reservoir roaring through the valley below, a historic area of covered bridges and small farms that is home to about 5,000 people.

In an attempt to reduce the danger as quickly as possible, the city has been trying to lower the reservoir level in recent weeks by sending as much as 540 million gallons of water a day through a 17-mile tunnel. The water flows into a more southerly reservoir, the Ashokan, where it must be treated with aluminum sulfates to remove sediments before it is released to New York City.

But the Schoharie Reservoir refills with rain as fast as the water drains out. The city is now considering hanging 10 large drainage hoses, 24 inches in diameter, over the top of the dam to siphon out more water.
OK, so why is this ironic?

Well, about a decade ago, the counties surrounding the NYC reservoir system were mad as hornets over the fact that the city wished to have eminent domain restrictions relaxed and to have tougher environmental rules enforced on the farms and communities surrounding the water supply. Upstate New Yorkers even called in Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in an effort to force the city to repudiate any claims as to run-off (asphalt roads, as well as agricultural chemicals), and to back away from purchasing (at fair value) more land surrounding the reservoirs.

The other irony?

The Catskill region is in the grips of a drought! The obvious solution, run a hose to the surrounding towns, may not be feasible, but you have to smirk a little at the irony.