2021 Fall Newsletter
A Message From the Executive Director

It’s autumn in the Regulating District, and “past peak” is certainly a term associated with autumn, as leaf-peepers check to see where peak foliage can be found around the region. Well, as October gives way to November, we are certainly “past peak” around the Regulating District, but we’re not just speaking about fall foliage. We are very happy at this point to be past peak water levels, as greater-than-average rainfall this summer and early fall made things interesting from a water management standpoint.

At Regulating District reservoirs in both the Hudson River and Black River Areas, the storage provided by our operations this year helped reduce downstream flows and elevations during periods of high water caused by heavy precipitation. To borrow another term, storing water during periods of high flow and releasing water during periods of low flow effectively “flattens the curve” – taking both the peaks and the valleys out of downstream flows and elevations to the extent possible. That’s been the core of our mission for over 100 years in the Black River Area and (next year) 100 years exactly in the Hudson River Area. So while sudden changes in elevation on reservoirs under our jurisdiction may have unpleasant consequences for local residents, I hope it also serves as a reminder of why these reservoirs were constructed and the role they are still intended to play in keeping downstream communities safe.

As we close in on one century of service to the Hudson River Area communities and people we help protect, I could not be prouder of the team here at the Regulating District that works day in and day out to execute our important mission. Through nearly two years of a global pandemic, our team members have worked to overcome new workplace health and safety restrictions, as well as operational and fiscal challenges. Those of you who have had an opportunity to interact with members of our team already know the caliber of people I am fortunate to call my colleagues. Along with Chairman Mark Finkle, I was gratified to sign recently a new, four-year agreement with our CSEA-represented colleagues, the terms of which were approved by the Board at its July meeting. I hope many of you will join me in expressing gratitude for the consistently outstanding job these dedicated public servants do to serve our communities all throughout the year.

We are also pleased to be heading into “Year 2” of our online access permit payment system for permittees around Great Sacandaga Lake. If you signed up for an online account last year, you will receive both an email, and a renewal letter in the mail. Beginning in early January, you will be able to log onto your account using the information you used to set up your account last year, access your permit(s), and renew your permit (or permits) online. Beginning the following renewal cycle (Jan. 2023), permittees with online accounts will receive renewal notifications annually via email, with those wishing to renew by mail or in person receiving renewal notifications by mail as they have traditionally. We will continue to improve and enhance this system based on customer feedback. But with nearly 50% of permittees choosing to renew online in 2021, we already know that this is an improvement for which people are appreciative.

While there are challenges ahead, the next few years hold great promise. As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Hudson River Regulating District’s creation in 2022, we will move forward with projects to rehabilitate the Conkingville and Indian Lake Dams. In the Black River Area, we will advance a long-anticipated reconstruction of Hawkinsville Dam, and continue important engineering work ahead of eventual projects at Stillwater, Old Forge, and Sixth Lake Dams. And throughout all these efforts, we will commit to being more responsive, transparent, and vigilant than ever before.

Finally, as we head into November and the weeks ahead, we wish everyone a healthy and safe holiday season. And we know that recreational activities around and on reservoirs under our jurisdiction don’t stop when the warmer weather does – so please continue to be safe! Visit the GSL Safe Lake Initiative on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/203634077638678/ and don’t forget to download – and use – the Henry D. Ross III “Send It” app to help keep your fellow boaters safe. Google “Send It – HDRIII” and you’ll have no trouble finding it on Google Play or the Apple Store.
And as always, please follow and stay in touch with us on Facebook and Instagram as well!
Thank you and be well! 
Conklingville Dam Rehabilitation:
No Expected Changes to Normal Levels During Project
Still in its beginning stages, our big news continues to be the major rehabilitation project at Conklingville Dam, with work not expected to commence until late 2023 at the earliest. It is quite impressive that while completed in 1930, the dam has stood the test of time structurally, but is understandably showing its age.

In September, Governor Kathy Hochul confirmed New York State's commitment to the project, announcing the state’s request for proposals for engineering and oversight work and her support for the $20 million appropriation and additional state funding if necessary for the much-needed capital repairs on the 90+ year old dam. (See the Governor’s press release and a recent news story on the link buttons here.)

It is important to note the final design for the project has not been done yet, and preliminary engineering work has not indicated any substantial draw down of the lake would be necessary. Our plan is to continue to operate the reservoir in accordance with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license and Offer of Settlement, including normal releases prescribed by both, while various phases of the project are undertaken. IF any small, temporary adjustment to water levels will be necessary, we will have a couple of years to plan for and communicate with communities, businesses and residents. Highlights, including a general timeline on the project put together by our Chief Engineer Robert Foltan, are included here.
Local Artist Portrays Heart & History of Area Community
We have had the pleasure of getting to know the work of local artist Linda Finch. A visual storyteller, her Sacandaga Valley Folk Art series began in 2018 and was enhanced in 2020 with a New York State Council on the Arts grant. She takes her audience through various time periods; from 1762 with Sir William Johnson fishing at Fish House, right to the current time with a tree topper cutting down a huge white pine in 2021.
Her series of twenty works focuses exclusively on the Sacandaga Valley and conveys a strong sense of place and community.
Ms. Finch resides in Northville and is currently working on painting lumberjack camps and researching Molly Brant, Mohawk wife of Sir William for future portraits. She is the fifth generation to live in the valley. See her complete work at www.Finchfinearts.com
Pictured from top: Fish House 1762; Northville Hotel 1880; Ice Boats at Northampton 1950.The artist is pictured with her pine board painting of the 9/15/1940 record Northern Pike caught on Sacandaga.
Dow Valve Test Standard, Yet Vital Part of Dam Safety Protocols
HRBRRD crews successfully conducted a “full open” test of three lower level “Dow” outlet valves recently at the base of the 95-foot-high Conklingville Dam, which forms Great Sacandaga Lake, to ensure all is in working order.

Each Dow valve is initially hand cranked to partially open before an electric motor is engaged, and finally re-closed to ensure operational readiness. A typical test is to approximately 20 percent open, with a “full open” test conducted once a year.

The first video shows our standard practice of hand cranking one of the three valves during a test earlier this year. The second video shows the Dow valve opening with the electric motor. The test takes only a matter of minutes, but plays an essential role in the Regulating District's comprehensive dam safety protocols and in helping to protect downstream residents from flooding year after year.
HRBRRD: Making the Most of Each Season While Preparing for the Next
Who among us hasn’t seen the Halloween treats out just after July 4th, Christmas décor following Labor Day and Valentine greetings on the first of the new year, and bristled at the rushing of the seasons? Well, at the Regulating District, we are also guilty of having one foot in one season, while reaching another toward the next. However, this is a necessary part of our business in order to get the most out of the current season as weather conditions allow, and at the same time work ahead to be best prepared for the next.

While many were finishing up their unofficial close of summer celebrations, we were fortunate to be extending beyond Labor Day our work boat season, typically reserved for higher water elevations in summer. Taking advantage of weather conditions, we were able to work another 4 to 6 weeks this year placing rip-rap stone along the shoreline and removing navigational hazards.

And while we were working to extend summer into fall to get as much maintenance and erosion prevention work done as possible, we also had spring on our minds at the Regulating District. Our Chief Engineer reports he has already begun the annual fall draw down of the District’s reservoirs which will continue through winter in preparation for Spring. With a carefully-calculated schedule to draw down its reservoirs over the winter months, the Regulating District prepares its reservoirs to capture spring runoff, keeping consistent with its mission of flood protection and flow augmentation for public health and safety. These precise water flow calculations also contribute to and augment our region’s robust boating, paddling, canoeing and rafting enterprises.

In the next several weeks, some HRBRRD staff will be transitioning from their (relatively) fair weather outdoor duties to commencing our annual bi-weekly snow surveys. The Regulating District is part of a national network of observers who provide rainfall, snowfall, and other hydrologic data to the Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC). We partner with the NRCC to provide snow data from January to April (or until the snow pack melts) measuring the amount of snow water equivalent, or how much water is held in the snow pack, and may contribute to water levels in spring.

While we may often feel like we are “rushing the seasons” with our scheduling and planning, we do try to remember to stop and appreciate how fortunate we are to be acting as stewards of these incredible resources and facilities.
"...I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house. So I have spent almost all the daylight hours in the open air." -- Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Regulating District is only able to deliver on its important mission through the skill, hard work, and dedication of its amazing team. At its July meeting, our Board approved the provisions of a new, 4-year agreement with our CSEA-represented workforce. In late October, Local 120 President Danielle Thorne, a Field Assistant at our Sacandaga Field Office, joined Chairman Mark Finkle, Executive Director John Callaghan, and CSEA Labor Relations Specialist Ed Herbert to sign and execute the agreement.
What Would You Like to Know?...

We are always happy to address any inquiries that come in by phone, email and through social media, but we have worked very hard to make as much information as possible easily accessible on our website. In this way, information is at your finger tips and available 24/7. Just click the buttons below to find a small sampling of some of the information you can quickly find on our pages:
We’ve relocated our Albany office from Northern Blvd to 575 Broadway, the very same area of downtown Albany that experienced historic and deadly flooding in 1913 which ultimately led to the construction of Conklingville Dam and the creation of Great Sacandaga Lake — a daily reminder of our mission. Please see the link below for our new mailing address, but note phone and emails have not changed, nor have any of the locations or contact information for our Sacandaga or Watertown field offices.
Hudson River Black River Regulating District