In June I announced in my monthly newsletter the important research by the Environmental Science students from Marist College. This is the full report that was presented to the board, which will allow us to better plan for weather events and the impacts on Asher Dam (Crystal Lake). The students, working with Dr Richard Feldman, analyzed storm water runoff, identified flood plains and interviewed many homeowners across the Landsman Kill and Crystal Lake area. Those residents reported more wet weather, leading to more flooding, and ongoing loss of shoreline. This is an important step in preparedness, and I am thankful to Dr. Feldman and the Marist Students for their excellent work.
Asher Dam, located on Crystal Lake, controls the natural flow of the Landsman Kill watershed through the operation of four valves. The Landsman Kill watershed extends from the Village of Rhinebeck into the Towns of Rhinebeck and Milan. Focusing upstream of Asher Dam, the watershed covers 27.2 kilometers of land that drains into Crystal Lake. Regulations impacting the operation of the dam were assessed in order to determine if Rhinebeck is in compliance with New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) guidelines. Some regulations were violated, making Rhinebeck vulnerable to lawsuits brought forward by flooding victims. Regional precipitation rates and discharge values from Asher Dam were evaluated in order to create an instructional model for the operation of the dam valves. This model can be used to calculate differences in drainage depending on precipitation levels and the degree to which the valves are opened. However, this project highlights what further research needs to be monitored and recorded in the future to create a comprehensive predictive model. Various monitoring and mitigation options were assessed in order to determine how the village should move forward in preventing flooding. Rain gauges, water level transducers, and stream gauges can all be used to produce accurate data on the watershed that can be used for a future predictive model. Research on riparian vegetation found fifteen species of shrubs and trees that are best suited for mitigation in Rhinebeck based on criteria such as growth rate, lifespan, root depth, and flood tolerance. Grant opportunities were researched in order to provide the Village of Rhinebeck with funding options for mitigative projects and dam updates. The Climate Smart Communities Grant presents the most realistic opportunity for Rhinebeck based on the amount of money available and the number of annual recipients.
Mayor Village of Rhinebeck
Chair, Hudson River Drinking Water Inter-municipal Council