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August 16, 1999

Contact: Geoff Ryan (718/595-5371)

New York City & Greene County Cooperate On Batavia Kill Stabilization Projects

Commissioner Joel A. Miele Sr., P.E., of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Matthew C. Story Jr., Chairman of the Board of the Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District (GCSWCD), announced today that the two agencies are nearing completion of innovative stream channel re-construction projects at two sites on the Batavia Kill in the Town of Ashland.

Commissioner Miele said, "The disastrous flood of January 1996 and more recent flooding in the Catskills underscore the importance of stream management to reduce flooding and turbidity in the reservoirs and streams of the watershed. The construction projects on the Batavia Kill may be the first of their kind in New York State. They feature natural channel design concepts that integrate fluvial geomorphic principles and traditional 'bio-engineering' techniques to restore stream channels to a natural, stable form. The Best Management Practices implemented at these sites will serve as demonstration models throughout the watershed and beyond."

DEP and GCSWCD have been cooperating on the projects, which are part of a comprehensive pilot stream management program to restore stream channel stability along the Batavia Kill from Windham to Prattsville. Under a contract with DEP, GCSWCD is implementing construction of the projects. The primary goal of the program is to use a "systems approach" — one that is designed to restore the stability of natural stream channels, including their eroding stream banks — as a strategy to minimize erosion and the turbidity it causes in the Batavia Kill and the City's Schoharie Reservoir, while improving the health of the stream and the habitat for trout and other fish.

Mr. Story said, "This has been a great team effort, and the benefits will extend to residents of the area, the anglers who fish the Batavia Kill, and the consumers of the water. The valuable information on innovative methods of stream management developed during this pilot program will be shared with other Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Cornell Cooperative Extensions, municipal and private water supply utilities, and other interested parties well beyond Greene County."

Rene Van Schaack, GCSWCD Executive Director, said, "Before we started construction, GCSWCD and DEP carefully evaluated the Batavia Kill's inherent stream channel stability and identified underlying causes of instability over severely degraded reaches of the stream. A project design team, coordinated by Stream Restoration Program Leader Doug DeKoskie and assisted by Restoration Technician Joel DuBois, designed an appropriate channel geometry — taking into consideration such things as the depth, width and sinuosity of the channel — that would move water and sediment effectively from the Kill's watershed to the reservoir. Once we designed the correct channel geometry, we reviewed a variety of stream bank and stream channel stabilization methods, such as a variety of rock structures and willow plantings, and designed the set of Best Management Practices that were most appropriate to the individual sites. Our designs replicate the dimensions of naturally stable reaches along the Batavia Kill and, therefore, will maximize the Batavia Kill's natural channel stability. These designs will also work to enhance or restore fisheries habitat, and reduce the erosive effects of floodwaters on stream banks. Finally, GCSWCD and DEP will monitor the stream for changes in turbidity levels."

"These projects serve as a model of cooperation between many people and agencies who have worked with DEP and GCSWCD," said Commissioner Miele. "I want to thank all the members of the advisory team, who worked so hard on seeing these projects come to fruition, and to acknowledge the help we have received from many others, including Greene County's Highway and Planning Departments; the Towns and Highway Departments of Ashland, Prattsville and Windham; the New York State Departments of Agriculture and Markets, Environmental Conservation, and Transportation; the United States Geological Survey; the Army Corps of Engineers; the Watershed Agricultural Council; and the Catskill Mountain and Columbia-Greene Chapters of Trout Unlimited.


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