Group forms to look at Schoharie Creek as watershed


By David Avitabile

By next summer, Schoharie County should have a comprehensive flood mitigation study of the Schoharie Creek watershed.
The study should provide a roadmap for local officials on changes to reduce flooding in the future.
The study will cost Schoharie County about $48,000. The Mohawk River Watershed Coalition, which covers five counties, was able to get the majority of funding for the study, which is worth about $500,000, according to Pete Nichols, the stream program manager for the Soil and Water Conservation District and vice chairman for the coalition.
Monday night's kickoff meeting attracted about 25 people to the Schoharie high school auditorium. A follow-up meeting, which will outline details of flood mitigation, is slated for the spring and a final meeting will be held next summer.
The Schoharie Creek starts in Greene County. The watershed area also includes parts of Albany, Montgomery, and Schenectady counties in addition to most of Schoharie County.
"It's a big watershed," Mr. Nichols explained Monday night.
The devastating flood from Hurricane Irene in August 2011 changed the watershed and modifications have to be made before the next major event, Mr. Nichol warned.
"There's never a bad time to plan for flood mitigation. It's much better to be proactive than reactive."
He added, "We've never had a flood study."
Bill Cherry, the county's flood recovery coordinator noted, "You have to start somewhere."
Schoharie Supervisor Gene Milone, who pushed for the study, added. "You have to look at the big picture."
After engineer Mark Carabetta of the firm Milone and MacBroom gave a short presentation on what the study will entail, those attending the meeting were asked to review maps and give their opinions on where changes and modifications should be made
"We want the public to steer the focus of this study," Mr. Nichol said.
Those who did not attend the meeting can access the Milone and MacBroom project website at: The user name is Schohariepublic and the password is Floodstudy.
This winter, the engineers will be collecting input, reviewing existing studies, do field investigation, and check out hydraulic modeling on at least 15 sites, according to Mr. Carabetta.
In the spring, proposed work could include: structural solutions, such as bridge, culvert, and dam (local) modification or removal, sediment removal, channel modifications, floodwater storage, wetland creation, and floodplain restoration, creation or modification.
"We want to look at every alternative," Mr. Nichol emphasized.
The study, Mr. Carabetta explained, will give local officials what is feasible, cost effective, and supported by residents.
The plans will only be recommendations, he added.
"It's up to the community and what they want."
The plans, he added, should make it much easier for the county to get funding for future work.
The solutions will be divided up into short- and long-term.
The completed project will then have to be designed by engineers before going out to bid, Mr. Carabetta added.