Gail Pedrick of Lambertville
Rondout West Branch Tunnel, which diverts water from three New York City reservoirs, is being shut down for repairs.
The dangers of doing repairs now:
• The New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the Delaware River Basin Commission knew for a long time they were going to start repairs.
Why didn’t they do maximum releases to lower the reservoirs to 80 percent.
• All three reservoirs are above 100 percent now and spilling!
Feb. 20, Cannonsville was 102.9 percent, Pepacton, 101.4 percent, and Neversink, 100.7 percent.
• All the water is trapped in these reservoirs to spill billions of gallons of water constantly into the Delaware River.
In the June 2006 flood, the three New York City reservoirs and Lake Wallenpaupack added 109 billion gallons to the Delaware River — the equivalent of the flow from Niagara Falls for 37 hours.
• The reservoirs have small release values, not flood gates — it may take months to lower levels.
Rain and snow melt during this time of the year fill up reservoirs and the Delaware River to dangerous levels normally.
Obvious, they did not do what they said in their press release:
”The FFMP (Flexible Flow Management Plan) provides for larger releases from the reservoirs to the streams when water is abundant and smaller releases when storage is at or below normal. Diversions are the movement of water between reservoirs for water supply purposes.”
• Allowing 100 percent full and spilling reservoirs weaken the 50+-year-old earthen dams.
• Bridges are in danger, except for the I-95 bridge and toll bridge at Lambertville-New Hope.
In 1955, we lost Phillipsburg, Pt. Pleasant and Yardley bridges. The water was on the bridges approximately two to three hours in the one day in the 1955 flood.
These reservoir floods are two to three days; the water could possibly be on the bridges 18 to 24 hours.
• How long will the government repairs take?
Spring rains, snow melt, spilling 100 percent-full reservoirs and a high Delaware River equals flood!
Read the startling summary of the audit report by Diane Tharp. See www.drconline for the complete summary along with a DVD on the flooding.
”The audit report of the Office of the New York State Comptroller Thomas P. Di Napoli dated Aug. 15, 2007, demonstrates unequivocally the necessity for an interim plan that creates voids in the Delaware River basin reservoirs.
”The purpose of the audit was to determine if the NYDEP monitored the extent and nature of the leaks in the Delaware aqueduct system; initiated repair of the leaks and established a plan in the event of a sudden and unexpected loss of water from the system (collapse of the tunnel).
”The audit found that even though the leak was discovered 18 years ago, NYDEP did not monitor according to the recommendations; did not have a formal plan to begin the repair of the leaks; and has not established an emergency plan to ensure the safety and welfare of the people and communities involved.
”This report’s findings puts the Delaware River basin in eminent danger for loss of property and lives during storm events, and it now becomes imperative that voids be maintained at all reservoirs.
”The investigation found that the Rondout West Branch Tunnel was cracked throughout, but was heavily cracked throughout 7,000 linear feet in two locations. It leaks at least 36 million gallons per day.
”If this tunnel should fail, not only is New York City’s water supply cut in half, but since all three Delaware reservoirs divert into the Rondout, and the Rondout would not be able to empty into a collapsed tunnel, all the water is trapped in these reservoirs to spill billions of gallons of water constantly into the Delaware River.
”This creates a truly deadly scenario. The audit explicitly states that the NYDEP does not have the plan or equipment to even begin the short-term repairs until 2011.
Therefore, we must maintain voids in the reservoirs until the aqueduct is repaired.”
The following paragraphs are from Diane Tharp’s executive summary of the Flexible Flow Management Plan of the Delaware River Basin Commission — see www.drconline.org:
”The Johnstown Flood disaster (or Great Flood of 1889 as it became known locally) occurred on May 31, 1889. It was the result of the failure of the South Fork Dam situated 14 miles (23 km) upstream of the town of Johnstown, Pa., made worse by several days of extremely heavy rainfall — 6 to 10 inches.
”The dam’s failure unleashed a torrent of 20 million tons of water (18.1 million cubic meters/4.8 billion gallons). The flood killed over 2,200 people and produced $17 million of damage.
”The reservoir dams on the Delaware are holding back many times more water than the South Fork Dam. We have three dams — Pepacton: holding back 140.2 billion gallons; Cannonsville: holding back 95.7 billion gallons; and Neversink: holding back 34.9 billion gallons.
One of these dams failing would release six to 30 times more water. The devastation is unimaginable.”
These are earthen dams between 40 and 50 years old. In an article written by FEMA, “Why Dams Fail,” the first reason on the list is overtopping caused by floods that exceed the capacity of the dams.
We have had three floods when capacity of these dams has been listed over 100 percent many times; some as high as 106 percent.
Inadequate maintenance and upkeep is also listed as a reason for dam failure.
Hazard classifications for all dams in New York are contained under the dam safety regulations of the New York Code of Rules and Regulations (6NYCRR 673).
Our three dams have the highest hazard classification of Class “C” dams defined as dams located in areas where failure may cause loss of human life, serious damage to homes, industrial or commercial buildings, important public utilities, main highways or railroads and/or will cause extensive economic loss.
How safe are our dams? It has been reported that dam inspection reports have been falsified in the past. We can not trust the NYCDEP’s inspection reports.
What can we do!
The Flexible Flow Management Plan is badly flawed and only uses 50 percent of snow melt and no rain when calculating levels. The planned releases are too small. That is why we have 100 percent reservoirs.
• The FFMP plan, which is in effect now and will be voted on by the DRBC in May 2008, will be in effect until 2011 if passed.
We only have until March 3 for public comment. The plan calls for 100 percent full reservoirs from April 1 to July 1.
How deadly is that when Dr. Roger Ruggles said over 6 feet of river crest was attributed in the June 2006 flood to New York City reservoirs.
We also had two of the three recent major floods in those months, April 2005 and June 2006!
E-mail the Delaware River Basin Commission by March 3 to email@example.com, subject: FFMP.
• FFMP must contain 20 percent year-round safety voids.
• Consider 100 percent snow pack and rain when calculating levels of reservoirs.
• FFMP must contain emergency flood plan with flood plan control modification at the three dams (reservoirs) such as flood gates, larger release values etc.
• Until modifications are done, we must have maximum year-round releases at each reservoir to maintain 20 percent safety voids.
Or mail comments to Pamela M. Bush, DRBC, P.O. BOX 7360, West Trenton,.08628.
The Bucks County Commissioners said when they met with Gov. Rendell, he said he would come to Bucks County to meet with us. Please request a meeting ASAP!
We would like to present our side and share our concerns.
We have heard from Catherine Myers of DRBC many times, and we do not feel she represents the interests of the citizens of Pennsylvania.
An example is our present situation, plus the three previous reservoir floods.
Gov. Rendell has refused to consider any safety voids until he reads the Army Corp of Engineers report, which may not be ready for two years. Our flooding problem with the full reservoirs cannot wait two years.
The dangerous FFMP will be voted on this May.
Gail Pedrick of Lambertville