Beginning with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation's 2013-14 fiscal year, the Mohawk River Basin Program was appropriated $800,000.00 from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) to implement the program and carry out the Mohawk River Basin Action Agenda. This appropriation followed Governor Cuomo’s formation of the Mighty Waters Cabinet Level Work Group through which the DEC is responsible for managing the Mohawk River watershed for environmental sustainability and flood hazard risk reduction. In order to prioritize the allocation of this appropriation the Mohawk River Basin Program used three subcommittees established for managing 1) fish, wildlife and habitats 2) water quality and 3) flood risk reduction, to identify priority projects within the watershed. Below is a summary of these projects:
Priority Projects Related to Reducing Flood Risks and Improving Flood Resiliency
Prattsville Flood Inundation Mapping: Through a partnership with the United States Geological Survey (USGS), creation of a library of flood-inundation maps at incremental stream stages for the Schoharie Creek at Prattsville. These maps will provide information to emergency responders that will be used as a means of assessing the severity of a given flood and assist in determining emergency flood announcements and/or evacuations, in addition to identifying specific areas where residents are likely to require assistance during a weather event.
- Ice Jam Monitoring at Schenectady: Through partnership with USGS and Union College, continue existing measurement and real-time delivery of water surface elevation data and ice jam residuals at Lock 8, develop an ice jam model for Lock 8, install and operate a real-time web camera with night-vision capability which will be utilized to monitor ice conditions between Lock 8 and Freeman’s Bridge. http://ny.water.usgs.gov/flood/MohawkIce/
- Post-flood Emergency Stream Training: Through partnership with the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of the Mohawk River watershed to conduct post-flood emergency stream intervention training sessions throughout the Mohawk watershed. Post-flood emergency stream training utilizes regional hydrology datasets to determine ideal stream channel width, depth, cross sectional areas and floodplain dimensions at a given stream reach location within the watershed. These trainings will provide necessary technical information and guidance to municipal officials and others in the proper techniques to re-establish channel capacity, identify where and when action may not be necessary, and the necessity of maintaining floodplain hydraulic connections as essential components to successful post-flood stream recovery efforts.
Priority Projects Related to Water Quality Protection and Conservation
- Expansion of the Hudson River Environmental Conditions Observing System (HRECOS) into the Mohawk: Installation of a water quality monitoring station in the Mohawk River at Schenectady between the Freeman’s Bridge Road crossing and Route 146 at Rexford to monitor dissolved oxygen, turbidity, temperature, pH and specific conductance, which will be recorded every 15 minutes.
- Network of Community-based Environmental Education Programs: Through a partnership with the Schoharie River Center, create an "Environmental Study Team" model and expand and implement this model throughout the watershed to create a network of Environmental Study Teams comprised of middle and high school age youth (ages 13-18) who are trained in the science and skills of water quality monitoring and watershed analysis.
- Sediment Monitoring at Fonda: Through partnership with USGS upgrade and construct stream gages at Fonda, New York to monitor and capture sediment discharge from the main-stem Mohawk and its watershed upstream of the Schoharie River.
Priority Projects Related to Fish and Wildlife
- Status and Trends for Fish Assemblages in the Main stem Mohawk River: Through partnership with USGS, document the current status of fish assemblages, including species composition, relative abundances and distributions of fish assemblages; assessment of changes that have occurred since the last study; evaluation of potential causes and/or development of testable hypotheses for observed shifts in species distribution or abundances; and identification of management practices that could lessen anticipated effects of invasive species, climate change and other factors on fish assemblages within the Mohawk watershed.
- Status of Blueback Herring: Through partnership with SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) study the linkage between the Mohawk, Hudson and the ocean to the Blueback Herring. This study will include assessment of the relative importance of the Mohawk River nursery relative to the Hudson River estuary, as well as a study of the provenance of blueback herring spawners in the Mohawk River.
- Mohawk River Macroinvertebrate-Fish Interactions: Gradients in Faunal Assessment and Management: In collaboration with the USGS, expansion of a current project that surveys the status and trends for fish assemblages in the Main stem Mohawk River to include monitoring of macroinvertebrate communities. This study will also identify environmental factors affecting biological communities and identify trends in diversity and stream condition.
- Schoharie Watershed Conservation Plan: Through a partnership with The Nature Conservancy, conduct a fine-scale connectivity analysis of natural lands, both uplands and wetlands, to determine how distance and barriers between small patches of natural lands affect the connectivity zone. Findings will be utilized to identify riparian restoration areas that would support stream biodiversity, restoration of riparian zones, and repopulation of native species.