If anyone has pictures or video of the recent water levels of the reservoir please send them!
Unfortunately the reservoir is at the lowest level that it has been in many years now. The situation has grown outside of this small town and has become a matter of importance all around. Politicians, lawyers, corporations and people in general are all of a sudden affixed on the Hinckley issues. Those of us around the reservoir are minced meat in this very large situation and our say goes in one ear and out the other. I want to be clear on the situation for all to understand. You will find no one solution from me or from anyone else for that matter. The situation has turned political and money is involved, money is always involved. The small handful of us will always continue to fight for the rights to use not only the land that is ours to use, but the God given gift of water that seems to be worth its weight in gold.
Although “Hinckley Lake” appears in the context of our organization as well as others, the fact is that Hinckley is a reservoir. Although it isn’t considered a private reservoir, it just as well could be. Why? Because Hinckley reservoir is owned and operated by the state Canal Corp., but since Canal Corp. is technically not a private corporation they do not privatize the land. But…If Canal Corp. were to put a fence up around the lake and put up those friendly “No Trespassing” signs, we would be screwed, to say the least. The point I am trying to make is that Hinckley is not just another scenic Adirondack lake that offers recreation, it is a profitable piece of real estate. As a matter of fact the use of Hinckley reservoir extends not only to the functionality of the Canal, but also as a water source for over 130,000 people and for generating hydroelectric electricity. As you can see Hinckley has a purpose way beyond that of some nice recreational hot spot. The water authority has a promised amount of water they can draw per day, the Canal Corp. also draws a certain amount and in the process the power authority is also promised a certain amount.
Everyone can be happy with all of the functions of Hinckley operating in tandem together without a problem. But when a dry season approaches and the amount of water starts to hit a low then “shit hits the fan”. The first losers in the battle? That would be us kind and gentle folk that look at and use the reservoir on a daily basis. We have to look at an eye sore and ask ourselves everyday “what happened here?” Everyone else keeps winning and while doing so continues to take and take from the dwindling supply of water that remains. But is there any other fix? Perhaps God can make it rain and magically fix things, but we cannot live on those wishes. Can the power authority stop producing hydroelectric electricity? This question has been raised on a few different occasions. The catch is that the hydroelectric dams don’t actually consume water. Instead the water passes through the generators and makes its way down the West Canada as it naturally would. If that is the case then perhaps the Canal Corp. should stop drawing as much water out, which at the time of this writing was 200 cubic feet per second. If the Canal Corp. lowered the amount of water taken out, new problems arise. First of all there are over 20 miles of downstream river that need to be fed. By drawing less water would threaten wildlife and the towns surrounding the West Canada. This would also slow down hydroelectric production as not as much water would flow through the generators. If that is not enough, the Canal would not receive enough water to operate their locks and would affect thousands of boaters that use it. That leaves the last viable solution have the water authority cut back on their usage. There is a problem with that as well. The water authority needs to supply 130,000 customers so there is no possible way to do that. As a matter of fact the water authority wants to expand their usage as they are actually allotted more water per day then they currently use.
Putting It All Together
As you can see there is no simple solution to this problem, as a matter of fact there is no solution. Mother Nature decided not to give us the water we needed this year and for the reason and only that reason Hinckley reservoir is at an all time low. People will have to adjust and cope to the situation and by spring things will be back to normal. Those that are water authority customers will need to cut down their usage of water and be monitored and possibly punished for over using it. The Canal Corp. will have to keep their daily water usage at a low and change their policy on lock usage for boaters using the canal. The power authority will have to cut back on power creation and divert power from other grids to compensate for the generation loss. As for us, are we truly hurting in this situation? Those that have dug wells will have to find other means for water and possibly start considering a driven system. Those that boat will have to go to other nearby lakes. Those that live on the lake and hate the eye sore should still appreciate what they have and remember in the spring it will be back to normal. Business owners will have to adjust to the decline in customers and also realize that they too will be back to normal come next summer. As for me personally, I have to admit that riding my ATV on the massive shores of the lake is quite adventurous, you should try it some time. Let’s hope next year brings more water and less problems.
I am looking for some help with this site. Anyone that can get pictures, historical information, and anything else should contact me. If you run a business that benefits from the Summer recreational season traffic on the lake let me know. I am also looking for those that have canal plates for a leased beach. Investigations will be opened to make sure those that are leasing beaches are doing so using the proper guidelines. Canal plate numbers need to be in clear site on the beach premises. Those that live in the Adirondack Park need not waste their time because leasing is not allowed within the park borders. Remember: If you do not have a canal plate you are no better off than anyone else regardless if the beach is in front of your premises or not. Also remember that a canal plate does not give you ownership of the beach in any circumstances. You cannot build, modify, or throw people off of a beach after the high water mark.
Your help is needed as well! If you have any pictures or information on the lake then please e-mail us so that we can see if it would be useful. We are especially interested in gaining information about the history of the lake, residents of the lake and anything else you may have would help. Please e-mail us so that a time can be set up where one of the web designers can set up an appointment with you.
News & Information
Record Low Water Levels: Hinckley has reached a record low level of 1,189.0ft above sea level on September 26, 2007. This has caused quite a stir in the local news and politicians are taking action. There has been an order placed on the Canal Corp. to lower their amount of water taken out of the reservoir. Water authority customers are also being restricted on mass usage of water.
Where the water goes: Our organization has stayed out of the 'Mohawk Valley Water Authority vs. Canal Corp.' fight over the Water Authority's extension of the amount of water drawn out of the lake per day. The Water Authority wants to expand their system to cover such towns as Westmoreland and Verona and ultimately supply the Oneida Indian Nation with an unlimited supply of water. Based on our own studies and studies of others we have decided to protest against the Water Authority for the water extension. We believe, as many others do, that the town of Verona and the Oneida Indian Nation can invest into an alternate water system with the budgets they have and save money of their own in the long run as well as water in our precious lake. Other towns, such as Westmoreland, already have established water systems and could easily upgrade them and save tax payers a lot of money in the long run. Although the Water Authority has rights to withdrawl water from Hinckley Lake, they do so with certain agreements and restrictions dating back to the start of the reservoir. One such agreement, dating back to (1918?) states that the Water Authority is to maintain an upstream backup reservoir to compensate for water loss from Hinckley. The reservoir was never used since the Water Authority never took their maximum allowed amount of water from the reservoir so it was decommissioned to save money. Without this upstream reservoir and the Water Authority taking the near maximum amount of water allowed we conclude that Hinckley lake would become extremely low during the summer months and affect not only recreational activity but those that have wells that live around the lake. Your support is needed to let your local politicians know how you feel about this.
E-Mails: A lot of e-mails and snail mail come in supporting what is being done. A lot of people speak of their own experiences of being thrown of beaches or their discust of what is being done around the lake. A letter was received a few weeks ago which was pretty interesting indeed. There are some names and other titles removed from the letter but you can see the real picture. It is posted here. If you want to write a letter about anything to do with what is being done, even if it doesn't support us, by all means e-mail or send a letter.
We are seeking some funds to buy signs to start posting. We want to start with the island since it is one of the most active camping spots on the lake. There will be more information posted soon as soon as we contact some sign makers and estimate how many we would need.
Rep. Sherwood Boehlert sent a letter to me earlier last summer. A direct quote from the letter: "...Though the permits provide owners with exclusive beach access, they are not rights of ownership..." This means that even though the land up from a beach is leased from the Canal Corp. that can be closed off from those that aren't part of the lease, the beach is not included. If the beach is accessed from another point that isn't leased or from a road then you cannot be thrown off since they do not have ownership of the beach. The letter also talked of the possibility of a public beach being created to further allow places for people to go...we are against this ...more below on the issue of a public beach.
Signs: This is what you see when traveling to Hinckley Lake. Thanks to the anonymous photographer for sending this. Got any photos you would like to send? E-mail them to us.
Want to Join?
Join in on the action. By joining you will have your say represented and be heard. As a member you will continue to be updated on the issues at hand, be allowed to voice your own concerns for other members to hear, and have the opportunity to take a position on the organization. Being a member is easy - as long as you are a citizen of Hinckley Lake or a frequent beachgoer then you are automatically qualified to join. To join, simply e-mail us with your name and residence. You will receive an e-mail back with information as well as be put on a mailing list. If you do not have e-mail then you can either contact a member or come back soon to use the sign up form that we will be adding to this page. It doesn't hurt to get in on the action and protect the lake, someone needs to do it.
Closing Statements: Hinckley Lake is beautiful and such a great resource all year round for the citizens that live on or near it. None of us want to see our lake "privitized" by people who may not even have come from this area. We love the lake and we will fight for it and so should you. Please remember, as a citizen of Hinckley you not only have rights to the beaches but you also have obligations. Please keep the beaches clean and sanitary for others that may be using them. Now, go swimming and enjoy the nature that you are entitled to.
Want to share your thoughts on this issue? Sign the Guestbook and get in on the action!
This site was created by Justin Horstman for the Citizens of Hinckley Lake. If you have any questions regarding the information provided above please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org . If you prefer to write a letter through postal mail address it to: Citizens of Hinckley Lake, P.O Box 174, Hinckley, N.Y. 13352.