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From the Albany Times Union 7/13/00--Agreement pleases all

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  • Saul Kalbfeld
    Water use pact adds to recreation options and environmental controls, continues power generation Competing interests in the Sacandaga watershed came together
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 13 5:43 PM
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      Water use pact adds to recreation options and environmental controls,
      continues power
      generation

      Competing interests in the Sacandaga watershed came together like its
      many feeder streams Wednesday to hail an agreement providing the
      Capital Region with a mix of power generation, flood control and
      recreational use.
      The pact calls for higher and more consistent water levels along the
      system to improve boating and fishing opportunities.
      Whitewater recreational activities also will be expanded by the
      improvement of access points and the construction of new ones.
      Under the agreement, Orion will be relicensed by the Federal Energy
      Regulatory Commission through 2033 to operate its five hydroelectric
      generating plants in the watershed.
      "We retain a significant amount of generating capacity, which will be
      important in the emerging competitive energy market," said Janet
      Audunson, general manager of Orion Power New York.
      Gov. George Pataki, described it as a landmark settlement. "This
      agreement will enable new York families to enjoy Great Sacandaga Lake
      for years to come while ensuring we protect the environment within
      this important watershed."
      Property owners near the lake have long pushed for higher and more
      consistent water levels during the recreational season, whereas
      hydroelectric and whitewater rafting interests pushed for more
      release
      of water from the reservoir.
      The pact details goals for release of the billions of gallons of
      water
      in Great Sacandaga Lake as it emerges from the reservoir past a
      series
      of hydroelectric dams and wends its way through Hadley to its
      confluence with the Hudson River.
      The immediate catalyst for reaching a settlement was the need to
      renew
      the federally regulated dam licenses of Orion Power New York over the
      operation of the five generating facilities located along the
      Sacandaga and Upper Hudson Rivers.
      The agreement calls for a mile-long section of the Hudson River below
      the Sherman Island project to be transformed into a more productive
      aquatic habitat by guaranteeing waterflow year-round to an area
      previously left dry because flow had been diverted to power-plant
      intake pipes.
      Aquatic habitat in a separate three-mile section of the lower
      Sacandaga River also will be restored and recreational fishing access
      enhanced by guaranteeing steady minimum water flow.
      "It's very pleasing to see that you can have a settlement where you
      have all the stakeholders come to the table to be able to reach
      agreement on a variety of interests," said David Stillwell,
      representing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
      He was particularly pleased by a provision that decreased the size of
      the mesh near power plant intake pipes to avoid sucking in smaller
      river fish. He also said there would be openings near plants to allow
      fish to exit safely to the river below.
      "Everyone gave a little," said John Duncan of the Sacandaga Outdoor
      Center in Hadley, who had fought to maximize regular and extensive
      water releases to boost white-water rafting, tubing and kayaking.
      The five plants are: E.J. West (20 megawatts) and Stewarts Bridge (30
      megawatts) on the Sacandaga River, and Spier Falls (47 megawatts),
      Sherman Island (29 megawatts) and Feeder Dam (5 megawatts) on the
      Hudson.
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