By CARLA KOLBE
For The Recorder
GREAT SACANDAGA LAKE -- Relief is in sight as more water is scheduled to be released from the Great Sacandaga Lake. Tuesday morning, dow valves were opened at the Conklingville Dam to begin the release of water.
Water releases are scheduled throughout the rest of the month, provided flash flood storms do not come in to play.
Since last week, this early summers relentless rainfall has driven the lakes level up to near full capacity. Although not posing an real danger to the lake residents nor its visitors, the extreme high water forces many changes as to how the summers biggest holiday would play out over the weekend.
According to Hudson River Black River Regulating District Chief Engineer Robert Foltan, minimal releases were being made right along in accordance with the Agreement of Settlement, but the recent flash flood storms and heavy rainfall had far exceeding the lakes regular intake of water entering the lake.
Friday night at 11 p.m., the lake crested at 770.9 feet just nearly touching the spillway top at the Conklingville Dam, which measures 771 feet. Mother Nature and some relief through the continuous install flow of 350 cubic feet per second being released daily at the Conklingville Dam through the EJ West Hydro Power Plant has held the mark just below capacity.
This daily release is made to maintain a constant flow for the Upper Hudson River in accordance under the Offer of Settlement Agreement. It starting this year, and will go on for the next 20.
The lake's high level was especially felt throughout the July 4 holiday and weekend. The typical sandy shoreline and the regular islands were unseen. Vacation hot spots such as the Northville/Northampton Beach was underwater, and Mayfield's Town Beach was inaccessible because the road leading to the beach was under water.
The lake level has approached the tops of boat ramps, and in Northville, the DEC's All-Access Fishing Pier which normally ramps downward was floating upward, with it's entrance over a foot below water.
According to Dave Winchell of NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Public Affairs, 60 campsites at Northampton Beach Campground remain closed due to flooding and with some reservations canceled through July 15.
As of Tuesday, the campground boat launch ramps was flooded and no boats were being rented on site. The beach has remained closed, and the day use area is open to picnicking but much of it is still flooded.
"Campsite availability is limited as we are doing our best to provide sites to those who have made reservations" said Winchell.
Despite the high water, residents and visitors cautiously came out to the lake swimming, boating, fishing and playing throughout the holiday with modifications to much of their regular activity. Access is limited due to the unseasonable high water putting docks out of range from shore, and much debris continues to move about the lake.
Assuming there is no significant rain, Foltan expects the be 10 to 12" above target by about July 21, and hopes to be back on target by the end of the month. At this point even so much as an inch of rainfall will have little impact on the lake level.