DEP to get an earful from Ulster County at Stone Ridge meeting

Above, join our live blog at 6pm covering tonight's DEP forum in Ulster County.

Tonight, a long-anticipated public meeting will be held at 6pm at SUNY Ulster in Stone Ridge, for Ulster County officials and residents to share grievances with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Both city and state officials are expected to attend, the Daily Freeman reports.

County executive Mike Hein has been pushing for this meeting for months, as part of a very public campaign he's been waging against the DEP in Ulster County. Among the issues Hein has been hammering on are the DEP's turbid water releases into the Lower Esopus, the flooding of homes in Wawarsing atop the leaking Delaware Aqueduct, and the city's habit of challenging property tax assessments on the land it owns in watershed towns.

The DEP announced yesterday that they have created a 10 percent void in the Ashokan reservoir to help control flooding, a goal called for in the protocol agreed to last October for using the Ashokan Release Channel to discharge water into the Lower Esopus.

An excerpt:

"The 10% void means that the Ashokan Reservoir has a much greater ability to collect water from upstream rainstorms or snowmelt with  reduced spillage from the reservoir," said Commissioner Strickland. "Maintaining voids is something that the local community has asked us to do to provide downstream flood mitigation while still meeting water supply needs, and operating the Release Channel is the only way that we can meet this community demand."

Longtime local political commentator Hugh Reynolds of the Kingston Times writes that tonight's meeting should be a "good ol' country turkey shoot," and we can't argue with that. We're hoping for a high productive-discourse-to-fisticuffs ratio. But however it turns out, the Watershed Post will be on hand: Reporter Anne Pyburn and editor Lissa Harris will be in attendance, and will be liveblogging and tweeting from the meeting, wifi permitting.

If you can't make the meeting, but have a stake in the issues being raised, we welcome your participation in tonight's liveblog. And if you are tweeting from the meeting, send us a tweet at @WatershedPost to let us know your handle, and we'll add you to the stream. (@NYCWater has already informed us they'll be tweeting away.) We'll be using the hashtag #mudgate, unless somebody comes up with a better one.

Currently, the meeting is scheduled to be held in the Vanderlyn Hall Lounge. If attendance is very high, it may move to the Quimby Theatre, which has no wifi access. We will play it by ear and do our best to keep the signal flowing.