Updated 07/26/2012 07:04 PM
Businesses, officials keeping eye on West Canada Creek
Last spring, West Canada Creek overflowed its banks and invaded neighboring communities. Now businesses that depend on the creek to attract customers are carefully watching its receding waters. Our Sarah Blazonis has more on why one state lawmaker is concerned dry weather might not be the only thing to impact its levels.
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MOHAWK VALLEY, N.Y. -- In the eight years Michael Papp has owned the West Canada Creek Campsites, he's gotten used to the creek's ups -- like in 2011 and 2006 -- and downs.
This summer's dry weather is less than ideal when it comes to maintaining the biggest attraction for his customers.
"This makes us a destination campground -- this creek. There's tubing, kayaking, canoeing, there's some of the best fly fishing in the state is right here on the West Canada," said Papp.
He says so far fishing conditions haven't been compromised, but creek levels are down. The water is about one foot away from its normal banks -- a low it usually takes the whole summer to reach.
Assemblyman Marc Butler says he's concerned lack of rain won't be the only thing affecting water levels.
The Mohawk Valley Water Authority and State Canal Corporation recently reached an interim agreement about the management of the Hinckley Reservoir. Part of that would let the water authority draw an extra 12 million gallons of water per day from Hinckley.
"They're proposing taking a tremendous additional amount of water out of Hinckley Reservoir. For years, the Canal Corporation staff has maintained there was no extra water for that kind of diversion," said Assemblyman Butler.
Water released from Hinckley flows into West Canada Creek, and Butler fears if projections are wrong, businesses that depend on it will be left high and dry.
Water authority officials say the agreement put checks in place to prevent such shortages.
"What occurred in 2007 is that the water flows were not reduced soon enough, and the water level began to get critically low, which required very drastic cutbacks. We know, however, that very modest adjustments early on can help avoid this sort of catastrophic reductions in outflows," said MVWA Executive Director Patrick Becher.
The MVWA says levels at Hinckley are about ten feet below the top of the dam -- a far cry from the low of 38 feet below in 2007.
Butler says he'd like to see any additional water used by the authority put back into the system through a structure like the former Gray Reservoir.