2022 Winter Newsletter
Message From the
Executive Director
As I write this piece for the winter newsletter in mid-February, flood warnings abound with reports of a major warm-up and heavy rainfall for later in the week. It’s an important reminder of the significant role we play in providing vital flood protection and flow augmentation benefits throughout the year, but especially during this part of the year as thaw, resulting snow melt and often rainfall combine to create the threat of flooding. Fortunately, reservoirs within the Regulating District’s jurisdiction are at or near target elevation for this time of year, meaning we are well-positioned to provide flood protection to downstream communities through storage.

"The HRBRRD has been an excellent partner, not only with our office, but with all of us in law enforcement who are responsible for covering the Great Sacandaga Lake. They are on our Safe Lake Initiative Task Force, and we often use their facility--whether training or real life issues in the winter or summer months, we often stage our marine units or snowmobiles [there]."
-- Fulton County Sheriff Richard C. Giardino
Hudson River Regulating District Enters its Centennial Year!
As we enjoy a peaceful sunset boat ride or an invigorating day of ice fishing on the Great Sacandaga, little thought is typically given to the more than 100 years it was in the making. Legislative action that led to the creation of the Hudson River Regulating District (HRRD) in 1922 set in motion the enormous feat of building a dam that would create the largest reservoir in the state, benefiting citizens, communities, business and industry.

Spring flooding of the Hudson River in 1913, which proved to be the most disastrous in history to downstream communities, prompted the creation of the HRRD in 1922. The new Regulating District’s purpose was simply stated by its initiator, the State Water Control Commission: ”To regulate the flow of the Hudson and Sacandaga Rivers as required by the public welfare including health and safety."

By 1924, construction of the Conklingville Dam and creation of the Sacandaga Reservoir was approved, and Edward H. Sargent was appointed Chief Engineer. The first bids for dam construction, land clearing, and building were let in 1927. The project was impressive, especially as we look back on the “technology” of the time. To complete the earth-filled, 95 foot high dam, 200,000 cubic yards of rock excavation was required for its construction: 670,000 cubic yards of earth fill, 121,000 cubic yards of rock fill and 15,000 cubic yards of concrete were used.

On March 25, 1930, Mr. Sargent closed the gates, damming the Sacandaga River and creating the 29-mile long reservoir. Still the largest reservoir in NYS, the Great Sacandaga
- or "land of the waving grass" in the language of the indigenous Mohawk peoples - continues to attract outdoor enthusiasts year-round to enjoy fishing, boating, ice fishing, and snowmobiling, as the Regulating District fulfills its mission of water management and vital flood and drought protection.

For a detailed look at the impact this project has had on the region, please see the documentary Harnessing Nature: Building the Great Sacandaga - YouTube
Construction of the Conklingville Dam 1928-1930

The Regulating District continues to work closely with its partners in New York State government on the first major rehabilitation in the State-owned Conklingville Dam, which forms Great Sacandaga Lake and provides critically important flood protection benefits to downstream communities.

In 2017, the Regulating District engaged Schnabel Engineering to develop a preliminary plan to address the 90 years of “wear and tear” at the dam and to ensure it can reliably and safely perform its function for another 90 years. Preliminary engineer’s estimates have put the total cost for project components at approximately $40 million. An initial $20 million appropriation was included in the State’s FY 2022 adopted budget, and Governor Hochul has proposed a second, $20 million appropriation in her executive budget this year, for a total investment of $40 million from the State. 

In September 2021, the State’s Office of General Services (OGS) issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for engineering services seeking a firm to provide final design and oversight for the project. A joint HRBRRD-OGS team selected the firm deemed to most qualified, and a contract with Bergmann Associates to provide these services to OGS was approved in January of this year. HRBRRD and OGS representatives met on site at the dam with the Bergmann team on January 27 for a tour and project kick-off meeting. At this meeting, the HRBRRD team reinforced the importance of ultimately completing the project in a way that minimizes impacts to area residents and businesses, especially water levels on – and releases from – Great Sacandaga Lake. Every effort will be made to incorporate measures designed to keep water levels at or near normal target elevations during the project, especially during the summer boating season. 

Preliminarily, work at the dam, which would begin in 2023 at the earliest, may include:
  • foundation and concrete structural repairs to minimize and eliminate leakage through the rock base and at the rock-concrete interface, and the removal and replacement of deteriorated concrete on all concrete surfaces;
  • replacement and repair of spalling and damaged concrete along wing walls, outlet channel, and tailrace concrete structures;
  • replacement of original low level "Dow valve" outlets with modern outlet valves that can be remotely operated; and
  • structural enhancements/ modifications to some sections of the dam itself.

Teams from OGS, HRBRRD, and Bergmann continue to meet bi-weekly to ensure progress is being made and that this important project stays on track. Once final design and schedule for the project is determined, including whether the construction would begin in 2023 or later, HRBBRD will work with its partners to implement a comprehensive public outreach effort. This will include an effort to hear from stakeholders about what impacts temporary minor changes to lake elevation, if ultimately necessary, would have in the interest of being able to identify those impacts early on and, to the extent possible, mitigate them. The goal will be to communicate as much information about the project as accurately and as early as possible, to accomplish the work with the least possible disruption, and to ensure the Conklingville can continue to safely provide important benefits to residents for the next 90 years.  
NY Guard Airlift Wing Trains
on Frozen GSL
The HRBRRD was proud to make our Sacandaga Field Office facility available to the New York National Guard 109th Airlift Wing as a base of operations for some important training. During a recent two-day exercise on the lake, the team set up a campsite like one they would erect in the arctic. They tested new grooming equipment and snowmobiles, chosen to enhance and extend the capabilities of the team by reducing the time and difficulty of ski-way construction and grooming. They also used the opportunity to train new members in a controlled environment.
Haven't Renewed Your Access Permit for the 2022-2023 Season?
There's still time to get your Annual Access Permit renewal in before the deadline! Permit renewal applications must be submitted online, received in our office, or (if submitting by mail) postmarked by March 15, 2022. Save time and the $10 administrative fee by renewing online. Click the green button noted here to reach our Online Access Permit System or find it on our website at hrbrrd.ny.gov. If renewed, an Access permit will be in effect through March 15, 2023. if an application is not submitted online, received in our office, or (if submitting by mail) postmarked by March 15, 2022, the permit area may become available to another eligible applicant.
The first GSL Access Permit issued May 22, 1933, approved by the Hudson River Regulating District Board at its May 18, 1933 meeting.
Have you used our Online Access Permit System to renew your permit?
Yes, I found it easy and convenient
Yes, but I wish it were easier to use
No, but I would if I had more information/instruction
No, I prefer to mail in my renewal
I do not have a GSL Access Permit
"We are grateful for the continued support provided to our fund and the partnership of HRBRRD in the Safe Lake Committee. We look forward to a safe and fun 2022!"
--Maria Ross, Henry D. Ross III Memorial Fund, SENDIT
Law Enforcement Partners Work to Keep GSL SAFE

Our partners in law enforcement staged their equipment and worked from our Sacandaga Field Office to help keep everybody safe on Great Sacandaga Lake during the recent Walleye Tournament Weekend. Conditions were a challenge, and we are so proud of the efforts of our first responders, as we are every day of the year. Thank you Fulton County Sheriff's Office, New York State Police, NYS DEC, Montgomery County Sheriff's Office and Saratoga County Sheriff's Office, as well as the Great Sacandaga Lake Fisheries Federation, Inc., GSL Safe Lake Initiative, and Fuel-n-Food.
Hudson River Black River Regulating District