Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mohawk River's challenges in spotlight

Times-Union (Albany): More than 100 researchers, environmentalists and residents, all with an interest in the Mohawk River, will gather at Union College on Friday to discuss challenges facing the river, from climate change and floods to battles over how much of the river can be diverted for drinking water in New York City and elsewhere.

"The Mohawk has a lot of competing interests along it," said John Garver, chairman of the college's geology department and conference co-organizer. While devastating floods in June 2006 still are in the minds of many people who live along the river, Garver said droughts are just as critical.

Already, New York City is getting about 15 percent of its drinking water from the aging Gilboa Reservoir on Schoharie Creek, one of the Mohawk's major tributaries, and sometimes that can drop the creek a couple of feet in just hours when a lot of water is sent downstate.

To the east, the Mohawk Valley Water Authority, which supplies water for about 130,000 people in and around Utica, is suing the state Canal Corp. to get more water from the Hinckley Reservoir on West Canada Creek, the river's other major tributary. "It is these competing issues of water use that are very important, especially during low flow," said Garver. "Who gets what in the dry days of August?"

…"Global climate change will have an impact on the Mohawk," said Garver. "It looks like we will have more extreme weather and more water than normal, which may mean more floods like 2006 are a certainty." A study of the Schoharie shows about 30 percent more water flows into the river each year, compared with the 1940s….

An autumn view of the Schoharie Creek, facing Northwest from the Schoharie creek bridge, shot by Stressmint, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License


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