Updated 04/17/2012 08:20 PM
Water levels down at Great Sacandaga Lake
Spring is usually the time of year we worry about floods, but due to this year's lack of winter weather, spots like the Sacandaga Lake are below normal water levels. Matt Hunter reports.
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MAYFIELD, N.Y. -– When Ahne and Peter Bjelica moved their family back to Mayfield 17 years ago, it was the Great Sacandaga Lake that drew them there.
"We water ski, we have a ski boat and jet ski,” Ahne said. “We're water rats. We're pretty much in the lake every day during the summer."
Like every spring, the couple and their two children are counting down the days until summer. However, this year, as they look at their water front property, they can't help but be concerned by the lake's drastically low level.
"It would put a damper on a lot of activities on the lake if we didn't get the rain to bring it up," Peter said.
According to Michael Clark, the executive director of the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District, which controls flows from the lake into the Hudson River at the Conklingville Dam, this year's mild and dry weather have left the lake's water level about seven feet below the historical average. That equates to more than 50 billion gallons of water.
"It's the opposite end of the spectrum,” Clark said. “Last spring, we had a significant snowpack."
Under its operating agreement, the regulating district is required to make sure Hudson River water levels stay at a certain point so not to negatively impact recreation or hydraulic power suppliers.
In a normal year, they'd by trying to keep the river from flooding, but because of this season's lack of precipitation, they've been forced to limit the amount of water that flows into the Hudson because the lake's level is simply too low to supply it.
"We will likely continue in that mode for some time until Mother Nature gives us that shout of water that we all expect," Clark said.
Clark says the watershed typically receives between three and five inches of rain in both March and April. If that happens, he said the season shouldn't be a wash for boaters who look forward to it each year.
"Usually this time of the year, it's right up to the banks [on our property],” Peter said. “So we're down pretty low, so we're really hoping for rain to fill the lake."