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A historical perspective of ice jams on the lower Mohawk River

Authors:

Abstract

Ice jams are an annual occurrence on the Mohawk River. As a northern temperate river, ice jams are expected, but it is clear from the occurrence and relative frequency of ice jams, that the Mohawk is particularly vulnerable to ice jams and the hazards associated with them. Here we briefly review the history of significant ice jams, we highlight research on reconstructing ice jams, and then we propose an active monitoring system that could be used by emergency personnel to better respond to active jams during breakup. Ice jams occur when the frozen river breaks up during events that result in rapid increase in discharge. Ice out and ice jams always occur on the rising limb of the hydrograph, when the floodwaters are building. When flow starts to rise it is not uncommon for unimpeded ice runs to develop, but invariably the ice gets blocked or impeded along the way by constrictions in the river, especially where the flood plain is reduced in size. In a survey of the past ice jamming episodes, we have come to the conclusion that any restriction or narrowing of the flood plain and constriction of the channel is a possible jam point (Johnston and Garver, 2001). An important point worth keeping in mind is that deep sections of rivers move more slowly than shallow ones, and therefore surface flow and therefore ice movement is reduced. So, a transition from a shallow to deep channel may generate a point where ice can backs may occur up, regardless of floodplain geometry.
A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE OF ICE JAMS ON THE LOWER MOHAWK RIVER
John I. Garver
Jaclyn M.H. Cockburn
Geology Department
Union College
Schenectady NY 12308
Ice jams are an annual occurrence on the
Mohawk River. As a northern temperate river,
ice jams are expected, but it is clear from the
occurrence and relative frequency of ice jams,
that the Mohawk is particularly vulnerable to
ice jams and the hazards associated with them.
Here we briefly review the history of
significant ice jams, we highlight research on
reconstructing ice jams, and then we propose
an active monitoring system that could be used
by emergency personnel to better respond to
active jams during breakup.
Ice jams occur when the frozen river breaks up
during events that result in rapid increase in
discharge. Ice out and ice jams always occur
on the rising limb of the hydrograph, when the
floodwaters are building. When flow starts to
rise it is not uncommon for unimpeded ice
runs to develop, but invariably the ice gets
blocked or impeded along the way by
constrictions in the river, especially where the
flood plain is reduced in size.
In a survey of the past ice jamming episodes,
we have come to the conclusion that any
restriction or narrowing of the flood plain and
constriction of the channel is a possible jam
point (Johnston and Garver, 2001). An
important point worth keeping in mind is that
deep sections of rivers move more slowly than
shallow ones, and therefore surface flow and
therefore ice movement is reduced. So, a
transition from a shallow to deep channel may
generate a point where ice can backs may
occur up, regardless of floodplain geometry.
The lower part of the Mohawk River has
chronic ice jam problems and the historic
record indicates that the section between the
Stockade and the Rexford Knolls is the most
jam-prone in the entire watershed (Figure 1).
As such the empirical evidence of ice jam
locations are relatively well known to local
emergency management authorities. However,
there is a general lack of information as to the
significance of individual jam points, and how
often jams occur in different areas. In addition,
many jam sites are inferred based on little or
no data.
Commonly, ice jams will build to sufficient
thickness to dam the river and this can result
in spectacularly rapid rates of water rise
behind the dam. In March 1964, the USGS
Cohoes Monitoring Station recorded the
greatest hourly flow ever recorded on the
Mohawk River when discharge peaked at 143
k cfs (1000 cubic feet per second), although
the mean discharge for the day was only about
half this level. In comparison to other floods
on the Mohawk River this was not a big event,
but the ice jam that formed resulted in very
high water levels for a short time: the high
discharge was due to an ice jam that formed
and subsequently burst forming an ice-jam-
release wave that surged downstream (Jesek,
1999). News reports from this event suggest
that the elevation of the backed up water was
about 25 feet, although as far as we know this
is unverified.
History. One of the worst ice jams in
Schenectady history occurred on 13 February
1886 when a spectacular ice gorge formed and
lodged in and around the islands near
Schenectady. In this event, one-foot-diameter
trees on the flood plain were reportedly
snapped in half, and when the water receded,
the remaining ice was piled 30 to 40 feet high
(see Scheller et al., 2002).
In: Cockburn, J.M.H. and Garver, J.I., Proceedings from the 2009 Mohawk Watershed Symposium, Union College,
Schenectady NY, 27 March 2009
25
Figure 1: Map showing the elevation of measured ice scars on bank-lining trees along the Mohawk River
in the Schenectady area. Scars on trees indicate the elevation of a slow-moving jam that caused damage
along the riverbanks. The highest levels of tree scarring occur upstream from the Rexford Bridge and
upstream of the Burr Bridge abutments. This area has chronic ice jams (from Lederer and Garver, 2000).
During this event, ice jammed at the Scotia
Bridge, which linked downtown Schenectady
with the Village of Scotia. Our analysis of the
historic records indicates that this is a chronic
jam point (same as the Burr Bridge abutments
at the end of Washington St.).
The January 1996 flood is the worst recent
flood and it is fairly well documented. This
mid-winter thaw event (19-20 January 1996)
resulted in the breakup of the Mohawk River
and significant flooding, especially on the
Schoharie Creek. As recorded at the USGS
station at Cohoes, the event resulted in a mean
discharge for the day on the Mohawk of 92 k
cfs with a peak discharge of 132 k cfs
resulting in extensive flooding of the Stockade
area in Schenectady. Elevation of ice scars on
trees lining the river banks (Figure 2) allow
reconstruction of ice elevations and from these
data (Smith and Reynolds, 1983), jam points
may be inferred (Lederer and Garver, 2001).
In the 1996 event, the highest ice-scar
elevations occur between Lock 8 and the
Stockade area in Schenectady, and almost no
abrasion occurs below the Rexford Bridge.
Two possible jam points are inferred from the
data based on abrupt downstream elevation
changes of the highest ice damage on bank-
lining trees. One sharp elevation increase
occurs between the Freeman’s Bridge and the
D&H railroad bridge where ice scar elevation
increases from ~224 feet to ~226 feet (Figure
1).
Another sharp elevation drop occurs upstream
of the still-standing abutments of the old Burr
Bridge (a.k.a. Scotia Bridge after
reconstruction) where maximum ice-scar
elevations increases from ~226 feet to ~230
feet. We infer that the ice dam at the old Burr
Bridge broke shortly before flood crest based
on the maximum elevation of ice scaring just
downstream in the Schenectady Stockade
(228.4 feet), which falls just short of height of
the river at crest (229.5 feet). Both jam points
occur where abutments and berms (i.e. those
associated with bridges) have dramatically
restricted the flood plain thereby causing a
severe restriction in flow.
In: Cockburn, J.M.H. and Garver, J.I., Proceedings from the 2009 Mohawk Watershed Symposium, Union College,
Schenectady NY, 27 March 2009
26
Figure 2: The tree-lined park in Schenectady’s
Stockade still bears ice scars from the 1996 ice
jam. Here the scar is about 14-15 feet above river
level. Photo taken in the Summer of 2000, five
growing seasons after the event, so it is well on its
way to healing itself (Photo: J.R. Lederer).
The 15 March 2007 flooding in the Stockade
was entirely related to ice jamming
downstream from the city of Schenectady
(Figure 3). During this event, discharge in the
Schenectady reach of the Mohawk River never
surpassed 45 to 50 k cfs, which makes this an
insignificant event with respect to expected
high water. However, the formation of the ice
jam and the resulting backup of water was
entirely responsible for the inundation that
occurred in the Stockade. This reinforces
earlier findings that the key component in
these events is the evolution of stage
elevation, which is not directly related to
discharge. Back up of water behind the 15
March 2007 ice jam resulted in a ~13 feet
elevation change. Breakage of the ice dam at
about 6:45 PM resulted in a downstream rush
of water referred to as an ice jam release wave
that was recorded at the USGS station at
Cohoes. Peak discharge at Cohoes occurred at
8:00 PM and then total discharge was 51.6 k
cfs. It is possible that that was an ice jam
release wave, but the measurements are too
coarse (every 15 minutes) to determine this
with certainty.
Figure 3: Flooding in the Stockade that resulted
from the 2007 Ice jam on the lower Mohawk River.
Picture taken in the late afternoon (~18:00) at
nearly peak stage elevation. Peak discharge
during this event was c. 50k cfs, but ice jamming
resulted in back up of water that caused flooding
(Photo: J.I. Garver).
The 2009 Ice Jam was, by historical
standards, an insignificant event. The ice out
event that occurred between 8 Mar and 10
March 2009 resulted in bank full conditions,
and an ice jam occurred, but there was not
significant flooding during this event. During
this event, we collected data on the elevation
of the river using two strategically placed
pressure transducers during ice out which
provides unique insight into how ice
movement progresses (Figure 4).
Following a relatively cold winter with heavy
precipitation, a moderate thaw accompanied
by moderate rainfall increased runoff and
subsequent breakup of river ice. At about
10:40 AM 8 March the water level rose
rapidly in the Stockade of Schenectady. At
about noon the R.A.C.E.S notes indicated that
the ice had jammed and stopped in place. The
toe of the ice jam was situated between the
Stockade and the Freeman’s Bridge (in,
essentially, Schenectady). The ice floe that
was jammed in place extended from the toe to
a point slightly upstream from Lock 8, so it
was about 4-4.5 miles long (~7 km).
In: Cockburn, J.M.H. and Garver, J.I., Proceedings from the 2009 Mohawk Watershed Symposium, Union College,
Schenectady NY, 27 March 2009
27
Figure 4: Difference in river elevation between the Stockade and Lock 7 measured by pressure transducers
at 300 s intervals for the March 2009 ice out event. In this graph in situ measurements were made as a ~7
km ice jam lodged and then worked through the narrow channel in Schenectady. This plot shows the
differential between the Stockade where water backs up due to ice jamming. High values in this plot
indicate that the Stockade water level is higher than downstream sections of the river, and this backup is
inferred to be cause by ice damming. The effect of a surge from breakup appears minor in this event (i.e.
Jasek, 1999). (All times Daylight Savings time).
Downstream the peak flow at the Cohoes gage
was recorded at 13:00 of that same afternoon
(8 March) when 27.4 k cfs was recorded (all
times are Daylight Savings Time).
Historically, this is relatively low flow for an
ice out event. At the highest point the
differential between the Stockade and the
Lock 7 occurred at 2:00 PM (14:00) when the
difference was recorded as being 1.69 m.
This means that a 1.69 m rise occurred in 200
minutes (3.3 hr) or a rise of about 0.5 m per
hour during this interval. The jam stayed in
place with little apparent movement, until the
next afternoon, 9 March, when the ice floe
became dislodged and worked its way
downstream at about 16:20. Ice continued to
pass through the system through that evening
and the river was ice-free soon after.
Ice Jamming in Schenectady. Our analysis of
the historical records suggests that the Rexford
knolls, a bedrock-incised part of the Mohawk
channel, is a distinct and chronic jam point for
ice floes. This is because it is narrow,
confined and there is no floodplain that allows
the water and ice to spread out. Our research
shows that over the several hundred years, it is
typical for ice jams to form on the Mohawk
between the Old Burr Bridge abutments and
the Rexford Knolls - the most common jam
points on this entire stretch of the Mohawk
(between Schenectady and Lock 7).
As such, these ice jams pose a unique and
serious hazard for the city of Schenectady (and
to a lesser extent Scotia). We’d note that this
part of the river channel is unique because it
lacks a floodplain and because it is bedrock-
bound.
This part of the Mohawk is relatively young
having captured the main flow from the Paleo-
In: Cockburn, J.M.H. and Garver, J.I., Proceedings from the 2009 Mohawk Watershed Symposium, Union College,
Schenectady NY, 27 March 2009
28
Mohawk at about 10 Ka (see Wall, 1995;
Toney et al., 2003). Prior to this time, it is
inferred that the Mohawk flowed north up the
Alplaus channel and through what is now an
abandoned channel occupied by Ballston Lake
and adjacent lowlands in the paleo-channel.
Although this is ancient history in the
evolution of a river, it is relevant here because
it provides a framework as to why this part of
the Mohawk River has such a special hazard.
Since capture and readjustment of the course
of the Mohawk, the river has had to rapidly
incise into the bedrock high that now forms
the Rexford Knolls. Even since settlement,
this stretch of the river has been treacherous,
and today we see that large ice floes have
trouble getting through this narrow incised
part of the channel. This is a natural feature,
and the reduction in the effective width of the
floodplain by abutments and berms the
Burr/Scotia Bridge being a major one – has
exacerbated the hazard.
We suggest that the best mitigation strategy
for this situation is a real-time monitoring
network of pressure transducers that can
provide fast reliable data on the condition of
the ice movement through this key reach of
the river (Robichaud and Hicks, 2001; White
et al., 2007). These data could provide
emergency personnel insight into ice dynamics
(i.e. Figure 4) and a predictive tool that they
have not enjoyed in the past.
References
Jasek, M., 1999, Analysis of ice jam surge and
ice velocity data, Proceedings of the 10
th
Workshop on the Hydraulics of Ice Covered
Rivers, Winnipeg, pp. 174-184.
Johnston, S.A., and Garver, J.I., 2001, Record
of flooding on the Mohawk River from 1634
to 2000 based on historical archives,
Geological Society of America, Abstracts with
Programs v. 33, n. 1, p.73.
Lederer, J.R., and Garver, J.I., 2001, Ice jams
on the lower Mohawk River, New York:
Lessons from recent breakup events.
Geological Society of America, Abstracts with
Programs v. 33, n. 1, p. 73.
Robichaud and F. Hicks, 2001, Remote
monitoring of river ice jam dynamics.
Proceedings of the 11th Workshop on the
Hydraulics of Ice Covered Rivers.
Scheller, M., Luey, K., and Garver, J.I., 2002.
Major Floods on the Mohawk River (NY):
1832-2000. Retrieved March 2009 from
http://minerva.union.edu/garverj/mohawk/170
_yr.html
Smith, D.G. and Reynolds, D.M., 1983, Tree
scars to determine the frequency and stage of
high magnitude river ice drives and jams, Red
Deer, Alberta. Canadian Water Resources
Journal, v. 8, no. 3. p. 77-94.
Toney, J.L., Rodbell, D.T., Miller, N.G., 2003,
Sedimentological and palynological records of
the last deglaciation and Holocene from
Ballston Lake, New York, Quaternay
Research, v. 60, p. 189-199.
Wall, G.R., 1995, Postglacial drainage in the
Mohawk River Valley with emphasis on
paleodischarge and paleochannel
development. PhD dissertation, Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute, p. 1-352.
White, K.D., Hicks, F.E., Belatos, S., Loss, G,
2007, Ice Jam Response and Mitigation: The
need for cooperative succession planning and
knowledge transfer, Proceedings of the 14th
Workshop on the Hydraulics of Ice Covered
Rivers.
In: Cockburn, J.M.H. and Garver, J.I., Proceedings from the 2009 Mohawk Watershed Symposium, Union College,
Schenectady NY, 27 March 2009
29
... Background. Ice jams are chronic in the Schenectady pool on the lower Mohawk River in eastern NY State (Lederer and Garver, 2001;Garver and Cockburn, 2009;Marsellos et al., 2010;Garver, 2014;. The lower part of the Mohawk River has a low gradient, and the permanent dam at Vischer's Ferry (also Lock E7) impounds water for nearly 16 km (~10 miles) to Lock E8, and thus this is one site where thick sheet ice builds in the winter. ...
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A midwinter thaw on 23 to 25 January 2019 resulted in ice jams on the lower Mohawk River. As in the past, a significant fraction of the ice on the main stem of the Mohawk got caught up and jammed above Lock E7: for the majority of this event, no rubble ice went over the Vischer Ferry dam, and thus tens of miles of river ice had become imbricated and concentrated in this lower stretch of the River. Most ice jamming occurred between Lock 9 (Rotterdam Junction) and Lock 7 (Vischer Ferry Dam), and thus the main activity was focused between Rotterdam Junction, Glenville, Scotia, Schenectady, and Niskayuna. Because this stretch of the River has chronic ice jams, the USGS has installed an ice jam monitoring system, which involves four closely spaced stage gauges (5 min data) and four real-time cameras. Primary jam points identified in this event are significant constrictions in the river channel: 1) the Rexford Knolls; 2) Freeman’s Bridge area; 3) Isle of Oneida’s and Isle of Onondaga’s; and 4) Mabee Farm. We are unable to demonstrate significant blockage by any bridge or abutment in this event: only channel constriction. As in the past several prominent ice jams were emplaced, and then remained stuck until later floodwater floated the ice and forced failure. Once a jam in in place, the stage of emplacement must be reached or exceeded to mobilize previously jammed ice. Release waves are common once jammed ice moves and pressure is released. Unimpeded Release waves travel down river for tens of kilometers at velocities that are a function of wave celerity and river speed (here 3.3 m/s – 7.4 mph). Release waves that encounter In situ jams are significantly impeded by the thick ice floes, but the wave can also dislodge jams, which occurred in the 2018 jam (Garver, 2018). We hypothesize that the two most significant jam points are caused by sediment infill affecting the effective channel width. Below E8, only the south channel is active around the Isle of the Oneidas and this is undoubtedly due to sediment infilling in the north channel that received a tremendous load of sediment during Irene (2011) due to failure and breach around E8 (north side breach). In the Knolls water has been more of less static since establishment of the Vischer Ferry dam in 1916. Sediment accumulation and the development shallows on the north side of the river has reduced the effective channel width, thus forcing ice jamming. Sediment infill at these two chronic jam sites could be easily removed to remediate this ice jam hazard. Ice jams on the lower Mohawk River are caused by channel constriction. In the last two years significant mid-winter jams have formed and lodged below Lock 8, and in the Rexford Knolls. In both cases there is a dramatic reduction in the effective channel width, and that reduction causes lateral shoving, imbrication, and thickening that promotes jamming. It is likely in both cases that channel reduction is affected by significant accumulation of sediment in the channel, and removal of that sediment may go a long way to alleviating the ice jam hazard in this area.
... Background. Ice jams are chronic in the Schenectady pool on the lower Mohawk River in eastern NY State (Lederer and Garver, 2001;Garver and Cockburn, 2009;Marsellos et al., 2010;Garver, 2014;. The lower part of the Mohawk River has a low gradient, and the permanent dam at Vischer's Ferry (also Lock E7) impounds water for nearly 16 km (~10 miles) to Lock E8, and thus this is one site where thick sheet ice builds in the winter. ...
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This is the abstract volume of the 11th Mohawk Watershed Symposium. Over the years this Symposium has taken on an important role in unifying and galvanizing stakeholders in the Basin. A coalition of concerned and invested stakeholders allows us as a group to tackle important issues that affect water quality, recreation opportunities, flood mitigation, and other basin-wide issues. This was a big year in the watershed with a number of important developments that centered on floods, dams, water quality, and stewardship. With another ice jam on the lower Mohawk River this winter, we were again reminded of the susceptibility of low-lying communities to flooding. A new initiative from the State seeks to get to the root cause of how, why, and where ice jams form, and perhaps what can be done about this hazard. Meanwhile the City of Schenectady has embarked on an ambitious plan to mitigate flooding in Stockade, the first historic district in the State of New York. A key to watershed management is our water infrastructure. The primary components of concern are dams and sewage systems and to a lesser extent transportation networks. Dams in the Watershed are used mainly for drinking water, canal supply, and hydropower. The Watershed has nearly 100 NYS Class C and Class B (high-hazard and intermediate-hazard ) dams, and hundreds of smaller Class C and D dams. We have a number of dams that are critical for drinking water, and the Gilboa Dam on the upper Schoharie Creek is a wonderful example: the recent major rehabilitation of the Gilboa dam resulted not only in dam strengthening and hazard reduction, but also provided changes that include a low-level outlet that can be used for conservation releases to sustain the downstream ecosystem in the summer. For dams that generate hydropower, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issues licenses based on power generation, energy conservation, protection of fish and wildlife, preservation of recreational uses, and general environmental quality. As a result, the FERC review process can force significant environmental review of the ways in which dams integrate into the local ecosystem. Thus when dams come up for review, stakeholders have an important responsibility to get involved and have their voices heard. FERC reviews of the Blenheim-Gilboa Dam (on the Schoharie Creek) and the West Canada Creek Hydroelectric Project (on the West Canada Creek) have recently generated intense interest by local stakeholders. Some of the focus has been on not only how the dams are integrated into the ecosystem, but also how they are integrated into the fabric of local communities. Some dams have outlived their utility, and these dams should be removed both for the benefit of the local ecosystem and for the safety of those living downstream. Given the industrial heritage in the Mohawk Valley, it is not surprising that there are a number of abandoned dams that no longer serve their original functions. We know that dam removal can have tremendous positive impact on fish passage and the local ecology, but we also know that removal can be an expensive and involved process. Facilitation of fish passage is a primary driver in dam removal, although we have learned that it inevitably results in passage both by species that belong in this watershed and by invasive species, illustrating the point that some barriers are useful. Water quality remains a central issue in the Watershed. For a healthy and vibrant ecosystem we need clean water. We know that locally our waterways are impaired, and the indicators include pathogens and plastics. We now understand the health of our waters from hundreds of measurements taken across the watershed by students, educators, and dedicated professionals from SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY IT Polytechnic in Utica, Union, Cornell, Schoharie River Center, Riverkeeper, DEC, USGS, and others who have been addressing water quality through research. These critical measurements include quantifying the distribution, source, and fate of environmental contaminants including fecal bacterial, microplastics, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other compounds that affect water quality. Stewardship and education are a critical piece of effective watershed management. Stakeholder meetings like the Mohawk Watershed Symposium, and local water advocates (including West Canada Creek Alliance, Riverkeeper, and Dam Concerned Citizens) play a key role in identifying problems, educating the public, and effecting change where it is most needed. Youth education programs centered on water quality and ecosystem health, such as the Environmental Study Teams at both the Schoharie River Center and Fort Plain High School, insure that all our waterways pass into the hands of the next generation of active, engaged, and knowledgeable stewards. The Mohawk River Basin has a new Action Agenda and Watershed management plan. In 2009 the first plan was developed by NYS DEC and partners, and the new five-year plan (2018-2022) was completed at the end of last year (2018) and will be released here at the Symposium. The overall goal is consistent with the whole-Hudson approach of a swimmable, fishable, resilient watershed. There are four main goals of the plan: 1) Improve water quality; 2) improve fisheries and wildlife habitat; 3) reduce flood risk and build resilient communities; and 4) create and foster stewardship opportunities. This is our new plan, and you, as a stakeholder, should be part of making it successful. Our keynote speaker is Hon. Rep. Antonio Delgado, a native of Schenectady, who represents the 19th Congressional District. The 19th District is one of the largest in New York State, and it includes a wide swath of the Catskills, including the Schoharie Creek, part of the Mohawk, and a large section of the Hudson from the Capital District south to Poughkeepsie. In the short time he has been in Congress Rep. Delgado has demonstrated a commitment to our water infrastructure. He is founding member of the bipartisan Congressional PFAS Task Force, and he is a co-sponsor of the Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability Act (WATER Act) of 2019. He serves on the House Agriculture Committee, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and the Small business Committee. This year’s meeting features 30 presentations that cover a wide range of topics. We hope that the selection of talks and posters will shape the discussion and continue the conversation about issues within the basin. By the end of the day, the Mohawk Watershed Symposium series will have been the forum for 340 talks, posters, and special presentations since its inception in 2009. Thank you to all who have participated. New York City water supply and infrastructure upgrades at Schoharie Reservoir A. Bosch p. 1 The New York State Mesonet: Providing real-time, high-quality environmental information across the Mohawk watershed J. Brotzge, C. Thorncraft, J. Wang p. 3 Toward improved community resiliency: Developing and assessing ice jam and flood mitigation measures along the Mohawk River M. Carabetta, J. MacBroom, J. Gouin, R. Schiff, B. Cote p.5 Characterization of disinfection by-product formation potential in Mohawk River source waters to support TMDL implementation A. Conine, M. Schnore, Z. Smith, G. Lemly, C. Stoll, A.J. Smith p. 6 The Mohawk River Basin Action Agenda 2019-2023: A Five-Year Plan for a Swimmable, Fishable Mohawk K. Czajkowski p. 7 Hogansburg Dam decommission and removal: Removal of first impassible barrier restores connection between St. Regis and St. Lawrence Watersheds A. David p. 9 Fort Plain Waterways: Stories of then and now in an Erie Canal town L. Elliott, C. Herron, G. Hoffman, W. MaGinnis, S. Paradiso, S. Rogers 10 The 2019 mid-winter ice jam event on the lower Mohawk River, New York J.I. Garver p. 11 Expansion of Invasive Round Goby in the Mohawk River-Barge Canal System S. D. George, B.P. Baldigo, C.B. Rees, M.L. Bartron p. 17 Nature-induced and human-instigated water deprivation sparks conflict in the Middle East A. Ghaly p. 18 Oroville Dam's main and emergency spillways: two near-miss disasters A. Ghaly p. 19 Identification of a point source for plastic pollution in upstate New York: a case study of Mayfield Lake K.N. Hemsley, L.G. English, C Cherizard, D.J. Carlson, J. McKeeby, S. Hadam, E. McHale p. 20 Stockade Resilience: Feasibility analysis of flood mitigation alternatives and design of mitigation measures to protect Schenectady’s Stockade Neighborhood M. Irwin p. 27 A four-year series of snap-shots: Data and observations from a Mohawk River water quality project as it enters Year Five of a longitudinal study N.A. Law, B.L. Brabetz, L.M. Wanits, L. Cao, S. Rogers, C. Rodak, J. Epstein, J. Lipscomb, D. Shapley p. 33 Aquatic invasive species in the Mohawk River Watershed: the devil is in the details C. McGlynn p. 34 United States Coast Guard Auxiliary: Recreational Boating Safety in the Mohawk Watershed D. Miller p. 35 The impact of alternative preservation methods and storage times on the δ13C of dissolved inorganic carbon in water M. Miller, L. Piccirillo, A. Verheyden, D. Gillian p 36 The importance of the West Canada Creek and FERC re-licensing for the WCC hydroelectric projects B. Nador p. 37 Overview of the Schoharie Creek Watershed flood mitigation study P. Nichols p. 41 Observations on dissolved and total metal concentrations in the Mohawk River in Utica and Rome, NY C. Rodak and N. Diers p. 42 Phosphorus monitoring prioritization in Mohawk River basin sub-watersheds using LENS M. Schnore, A.J. Smith, B. Duffy, K. Stainbrook, C. Stoll, Z. Smith p. 43 What's up with the Mohawk Delta? Insights from community water quality monitoring at the mouth of the river D. Shapley, J. Lipscomb, J. Epstein, S. Pillitteri, B. Brabetz, N.A. Law, A. Juhl, C. Knudson, G. O’Mullan, C. Rodak p. 45 Confirming the presence of microplastics in Capital Region fish using a novel no-kill abdomen massage A. Shimkus, J.A. Smith p. 48 Extreme rainfall, high water, and elevated microplastic concentration in the Hans Groot Kill: implications for the Mohawk River J.A. Smith, E. Caruso, N. Wright p. 53 Reconnecting waters for eels and river herring: towards resilience building approaches for dam removal action in the Hudson River watershed K. Smith, A.M. Feldpausch-Parker, K.E. Limburg p 59 Innovative approach to deliver a $300 million treatment plant upgrade for Oneida County, New York J. Story, R. Ganley, S Devan p. 60 Characterization of carbon export in Upstate New York: initial geochemical characterization of six rivers J. Wassik, J. Gehring, C. Horan, M. Stahl p. 65 Baseline monitoring of physical parameters and Enterococci levels in the Hans Groot Kill, Schenectady, NY E. Willard-Bauer, J.A. Smith, J.I. Garver p. 69
... In Schenectady, New York the flood events are due to either an increase in precipitation and storms during the summer or ice jams in the winter months. Ice jams occur when floes accumulate at the base of bridge piers, locks, and dam structures, impeding the downstream water flow causing an upstream rise in the water level [10,11]. Flood forecasting research has been conducted in the past at Schenectady in which flood forecasting and damage evaluation has been surveyed [12][13][14][15][16][17]. ...
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Floods typically occur due to ice jams in the winter or extended periods of precipitation in the spring and summer seasons. An increase in the rate of water discharge in the river coincides with a flood event. This research combines the time series decomposition and the time series regression model for the flood prediction in Mohawk River at Schenectady, New York. The time series decomposition has been applied to separate the different frequencies in hydrogeological and climatic data. The time series data have been decomposed into the long-term, seasonal-term, and short-term components using the Kolmogorov-Zurbenko filter. For the application of the time series regression model, we determine the lags of the hydrogeological and climatic variables that provide the maximum performance for the model. The lags applied in the predictor variables of the model have been used for the physical interpretation of the model to strengthen the relationship between the water discharge and the climatic and hydrogeological variables. The overall model accuracy has been increased up to 73%. The results show that using the lags of the variables in the time regression model, and the forecasting accuracy has been increased compared to the raw data by two times.
... In Schenectady, New York, flood events are due to either an increase in precipitation and storms during the summer or ice jams in the winter months. Ice jams occur when floes accumulate at the base of bridge piers, locks, and dam structures, impeding the downstream water flow and causing an upstream rise in the water level [10,11]. Flood forecasting research has been conducted in the past at Schenectady in which flood forecasting and damage evaluation has been surveyed [12][13][14][15][16][17]. ...
Article
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This research introduces a hybrid model for forecasting river flood events with an example of the Mohawk River in New York. Time series analysis and artificial neural networks are combined for the explanation and forecasting of the daily water discharge using hydrogeological and climatic variables. A low pass filter (Kolmogorov–Zurbenko filter) is applied for the decomposition of the time series into different components (long, seasonal, and short-term components). For the prediction of the water discharge time series, each component has been described by applying the multiple linear regression models (MLR), and the artificial neural network (ANN) model. The MLR retains the advantage of the physical interpretation of the water discharge time series. We prove that time series decomposition is essential before the application of any model. Also, decomposition shows that the Mohawk River is affected by multiple time scale components that contribute to the hydrologic cycle of the included watersheds. Comparison of the models proves that the application of the ANN on the decomposed time series improves the accuracy of forecasting flood events. The hybrid model which consists of time series decomposition and artificial neural network leads to a forecasting up to 96% of the explanation for the water discharge time series.
... Background. Ice jams are chronic in the Schenectady pool on the lower Mohawk River in eastern NY State (Lederer and Garver, 2001;Scheller and others, 2002;Garver and Cockburn, 2009;Marsellos and others, 2010;Garver, 2014;Garver and others, this volume). The lower part of the Mohawk River has a low gradient, and the permanent dam at Vischer's Ferry (also Lock E7) impounds water for nearly 16 km (~10 miles) to Lock E8, and thus this is one site where thick sheet ice builds in the winter. ...
Conference Paper
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This is the full volume of extended abstracts for the 10th Mohawk Watershed Symposium. The meeting continues to serve as a focal point for concerned and invested stakeholders. It helps to keep all involved informed about important issues that affect water quality, recreation opportunities, hazards and other developments in the basin. The flood hazard remains an important issue in the basin, especially for those river-lining communities along the Mohawk and tributaries. Identification of the hazards, monitoring, and solutions to chronically flooded areas are a top priority for many stakeholders. Monitoring physical parameters in the River by HRECOS, the USGS Ice Jam monitoring system, and others play an important role in understanding and modelling physical aspects of the river. Modelling is becoming important as we try to understand floods, flooding, and associated hazards. The Northeast and NY State had a major ice jam problem this winter. The lower Mohawk River was affected by an historic ice jam and ice jam flooding that occupied considerable time and resources for emergency management. A mid-winter jam formed in mid January, and subsequent thaw in late January release upstream ice and lengthened it to 17 miles. A thaw in late February resulted in high water, flooding, and release of the ice. Once again, the lower parts of the historic Stockade district were flooded, and the event triggered new calls for ways to address this chronic problem. This event solidified monitoring and assessment efforts by the local county emergency management (mainly Albany, Schenectady, and Montgomery), the USGS, NOAA/NWS, FEMA, and academia. Water quality remains a central issue in the Watershed. USGS and NYSDEC have been working to develop a Water quality Model for the Mohawk, which will be presented at the meeting. A critical component of understanding water quality is data from hundreds of measurements across the watershed. Researchers from SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Utica, Union, Cornell, the Schoharie River Center, and Riverkeeper have had a busy year collecting and analyzing samples that address water quality issues in the main stem of the Mohawk, and in tributaries by making measurements. These critical measurements include quantifying the distribution, source, and fate of environmental contaminants including fecal bacterial, microplastics, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other compounds that affect water quality. We are seeing new and exciting new research on the identification and quantification of micropollutents, and these new analytical approaches will provide important information on subtle and unrecognized sources of environmental contamination in the basin. The Mohawk River is one of the largest sources of drinking water in the Capital District, and nearly 100,000 people in Colonie and Cohoes. Despite the importance of this critical source, we lack a source water protection program, and Riverkeeper will present ideas and approaches from tributaries in the Hudson that may serve as a model for the Mohawk. Increasingly we look to the river for inspiration, recreation, and this can have a direct impact on community focus and economic development, and we can predict that this river-centric view will increase as water quality improves. As such, we face some issues related to connecting communities to the river, while recognizing that water quality and flooding guide fundamental decisions. Conservation and ecosystem protection remains a central priority to effective watershed management. We are seeing new plans for identification of priority areas, and specific approaches to ecosystem management that directly affects water quality. On to the future. The next generation continues to be very active in the Mohawk and tributaries, and once again we are pleased that so many students can be part of the annual MWS symposium. The Schoharie River Center (SRC) continues to have a focus on water quality assessment, and initiated a new program for microplastic collection and identification. The Fort Plain environmental study team, an SRC partner, continues to focus on community-based science primarily focussed on water quality, and education of high school youth. We are getting a new Action Agenda in the watershed – our guiding blueprint for watershed management - and we need your help. In 2009, the first Mohawk River Basin Action Agenda was developed by the NYSDEC and partners with five main goals that focused on an ecosystem-based approach to watershed management. This guiding document has provided important targets for stakeholders over the last decade. The vision behind the 2018-22 Action Agenda will be presented at this meeting. It will focus on the goal of a swimmable, fishable, resilient Mohawk River watershed that will be addressed through three main objectives: a) improve water quality; b) improve fisheries and habitat; and c) plan for resiliency. There will be a public comment period for this new plan, so you as a stakeholder should take the time to make your voice heard. Ten years of success. Today we celebrate a decade of consecutive meetings that have brought stakeholders together in this Symposium. This year’s meeting features 29 presentations to shape the discussion and continue the conversation about issues within the basin. We continue to see new ideas, many of them presented by students from a number of different educational institutions, this growth in student participation is both exciting, and a welcome sign of continued progress. By the end of the day, the Mohawk Watershed Symposium series will have been the forum for 310 talks, posters, and special presentations since inception in 2009
... Background. Ice jams are chronic in the Schenectady pool on the lower Mohawk River in eastern NY State (Lederer and Garver, 2001;Scheller and others, 2002;Garver and Cockburn, 2009;Marsellos and others, 2010;Garver, 2014;Garver and others, this volume). The lower part of the Mohawk River has a low gradient, and the permanent dam at Vischer's Ferry (also Lock E7) impounds water for nearly 16 km (~10 miles) to Lock E8, and thus this is one site where thick sheet ice builds in the winter. ...
Conference Paper
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An ice jam of historic proportions formed in January 2018 on the lower Mohawk River. The ice jam was 27 km long, and the toe was lodged in the Rexford Knolls, a chronic jam point. The Knolls are a unique section of the river where late-glacial capture moved the channel to a bedrock incised gorge, and today the channel is narrow and deep with a prominent constriction. Along the length of the jam at least four other jam points also affected flow and progress of ice movement. The toe of the jam failed during high water at 21-22 February caused by rain and then exceptionally warm temperatures (21°C, 70°F). A significant release of water moved downstream, and water levels dropped 1.8 m (6 ft) in a few hours, which relieved flooding of homes in the Stockade of Schenectady.
... These data, coupled with short-and long-range weather forecasts, are utilized for proactive and reactive management of the system. (Johnston and Garver, 2001;Lederer and Garver, 2001;Scheller and others, 2002;Garver and Cockburn, 2009). As a northern temperate river, ice jams are expected and the lower Mohawk is particularly vulnerable to jams and the hazards associated with them. ...
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Preface to Volume: We are making progress. The Mohawk River Basin Program Action Agenda has emerged from the DEC and primary stakeholders, and in that initial blueprint for action has emerged a mission that is at the heart of much of what we are all concerned with: The mission of the Mohawk River Basin Program is to act as coordinator of basin-wide activities related to conserving, preserving, and restoring the environmental quality of the Mohawk River and its watershed, while managing the resource for a sustainable future. Vital to the success of the program is the involvement of stakeholders and partnerships with established programs and organizations throughout the basin. An important emerging consensus is that integrated watershed management is the key to our future success. Ecosystem Based Management is a clear and explicit guiding principal that now appears to be integrated and fully woven into the fabric of our future direction. With the NYS Department of State’s decision to support the Mohawk River Watershed Coalition of Conservation Districts’ proposal to implement a Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan for the Mohawk Basin. We can now look to the Mohawk Watershed Coalition of Conservation Districts, recently funded by NYS Department of State, to implement the different facets of the Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan for the Mohawk Basin. This is the second annual symposium on the Mohawk Watershed and we are proud to present a full and interesting program with excellent papers and ideas that cover a wide range of topics in the Watershed. We hope that the continued spirit of information exchange and interaction will foster a new and better understanding of the intersection between Science, Engineering, and Policy in the watershed. Talks: • Introductory remarks to the second annual Mohawk Watershed Symposium - John I. Garver, Geology Department, Union College • Mohawk River: Erie Canal; Its one in the same (Invited) - Howard Goebel, Canal Hydrologist, New York State Canal Corporation • EST: Linking watershed protection with youth development through community based volunteer stream monitoring programs in the Mohawk Watershed. - John McKeeby, Executive Director, Schoharie River Center • Comparative analysis of volunteer and professionally collected monitoring data - Kelly Nolan, Director of Environmental Services, Watershed Assessment Associates • Ice jam history, ice jam mitigation training and ice jam mitigation efforts in the Mohawk River Basin - John Quinlan, Lead Forecaster, National Weather Service, Albany, NY • Learning through experiments and measurements: the Mohawk Watershed as an outdoor classroom - Jaclyn Cockburn, Geology Department, Union College • A new look at the formation of Cohoes Falls (Invited)- Gary Wall, Hydrologist, United States Geological Survey • Weather and climate of the Mohawk River Watershed - Steve DiRienzo, Senior Service Hydrologist, NOAA - National Weather Service • Landslides in Schenectady County - John Garver, Geology Department, Unoion College • Use of high-resolution LiDAR images to identify slopes with questionable stability along the Mohawk River banks - Ashraf Ghaly, Department of Engineering, Union College • Historic flooding at selected USGS streamgages in the Mohawk River Basin. - Thomas Suro, Hydrologist and Engineer, United States Geological Survey • FEMA flood maps, flood risk and public perception (Invited) - William Nechamen, DEC NYS • Peak shaving: An approach to mitigating flooding in the Schoharie and Mohawk Valleys- Bob Price, Dam Concerned Citizens • US Army Corps of Engineers approach to watershed planning - Jason Shea, Civil Engineer/Watershed Planner, US Army Corps of Engineers • The Hudson and the Mohawk: working together - Frances Dunwell, Hudson River Estuary Coordinator, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
... Along the Mohawk River in upstate New York, ice jams are an annual occurrence that commonly results in significant flooding especially when the progress of the ice is impeded by obstructions to the channel and flood plain (Johnston and Garver, 2001;Lederer and Garver, 2001;Scheller and others, 2002;Garver and Cockburn, 2009). Jams occur when the frozen river breaks up and movement of ice is restricted at channel constrictions, locks, and areas of reduced flood plain. ...
Article
Pressure on large fluvial lowlands has increased tremendously during the past twenty years because of flood control, urbanization, and increased dependence upon floodplains and deltas for food production. This book examines human impacts on lowland rivers, and discusses how these changes affect different types of riverine environments and flood processes. Surveying a global range of large rivers, it provides a primary focus on the lower Rhine River in the Netherlands and the Lower Mississippi River in Louisiana. A particular focus of the book is on geo-engineering, which is described in a straight-forward writing style that is accessible to a broad audience of advanced students, researchers, and practitioners in global environmental change, fluvial geomorphology and sedimentology, and flood and water management.
Conference Paper
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A 27 km (17 mile) long ice jam formed during a January mid-winter breakup event, and it stayed in place for most of the winter. By historic standards this was the longest to have formed in decades, and thickness estimates were made to better understand the hazard and the nature of the ice in constriction points. Unmanned aerial system (UAS) photogrammetry and Structure from Motion (SfM) at two sites was done to better understand the structure and thickness of the ice. In the toe of the jam, in the Rexford Knolls, thickness is estimated to be between ~1.2 and 3.0 m (4-10 ft) thick for floating and thickened ice that meets sheet ice near Lock E7. At Lock E9, about 22 km (13.5 mi) up river, topographic mapping on the deflated and ground ice rubble reveals that the ice was between 1.8 and 2.7 m (6-9 ft), but ridges are as thick as 3.6 and 4.6 m (12-15 ft). UAV/UAS use is in its infancy in ice jam work, but imaging and mapping will be transformative in work aimed at assessing the hazard and understanding the science behind jams. The 2018 Jam ultimately broke up on 22 February, but only after causing backup flooding in the historic Stockade district in Schenectady.
Article
Continuous pollen and sediment records from two 8.5-m-long cores document late Pleistocene and Holocene sedimentation and vegetation change in the Ballston Lake basin, eastern New York State. Pebbles at the base of both cores and the geomorphology of the watershed reflect the presence of the Mohawk River in the basin prior to 12,900 70 cal yr B.P. Ballston Lake formed at the onset of the Younger Dryas (YD) by an avulsion of the Mohawk River. The transition from clay to gyttja with low magnetic susceptibility (MS), low bulk density, and high organic carbon indicates rapid warming and increased lake productivity beginning 11,020 cal yr B.P. MS measurements reveal that the influx of magnetic particles, associated with pre-Holocene clastic sedimentation, ceased after 10,780 cal yr B.P. The pollen record is subdivided into six zones: BL1 (12,920 to 11,020 cal yr B.P.) is dominated by boreal forest pollen; BL2 (11,020 to 10,780 cal yr B.P.) by pine (Pinus) forest pollen; BL3 (10,780 to 5290 cal yr B.P.) by hemlock (Tsuga) and mixed hardwood pollen; BL4 (5290 to 2680 cal yr B.P.) by mixed hardwood pollen; BL5a (2680 cal yr B.P. to 1030 cal yr B.P.) by conifer and mixed hardwood pollen; and BL5b (1030 cal B.P. to present) by increasing ragweed (Ambrosia) pollen. A 62% decrease in spruce (Picea) pollen in 320 cal years during BL1 reflects rapid warming at the end of the YD. Holocene pollen zones record more subtle climatic shifts than occurred at the end of the YD. One of the largest changes in the Holocene pollen spectra began 5300 cal yr B.P., and is characterized by a marked decline in hemlock pollen. This has been noted in other pollen records from the region and may record preferential selection of hemlock by a pathogen or parasites.
Article
"UMI number: 9608471." Includes abstract. Thesis (Ph. D.)--Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1995. Photocopy.
Record of flooding on the Mohawk River from 1634 to 2000 based on historical archives
  • S A Johnston
  • J I Garver
Johnston, S.A., and Garver, J.I., 2001, Record of flooding on the Mohawk River from 1634 to 2000 based on historical archives, Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs v. 33, n. 1, p.73.
Analysis of ice jam surge and ice velocity data
  • M Jasek
Jasek, M., 1999, Analysis of ice jam surge and ice velocity data, Proceedings of the 10 th Workshop on the Hydraulics of Ice Covered Rivers, Winnipeg, pp. 174-184.
Tree scars to determine the frequency and stage of high magnitude river ice drives and jams
  • M Scheller
  • K Luey
  • J I Garver
Scheller, M., Luey, K., and Garver, J.I., 2002. Major Floods on the Mohawk River (NY): 1832-2000. Retrieved March 2009 from http://minerva.union.edu/garverj/mohawk/170 _yr.html Smith, D.G. and Reynolds, D.M., 1983, Tree scars to determine the frequency and stage of high magnitude river ice drives and jams, Red Deer, Alberta. Canadian Water Resources Journal, v. 8, no. 3. p. 77-94.
Ice jams on the lower Mohawk River Lessons from recent breakup events Abstracts with Programs v. 33, n. 1, p. 73. Robichaud and F. Hicks Remote monitoring of river ice jam dynamics
  • J R Lederer
  • J I Garver
Lederer, J.R., and Garver, J.I., 2001, Ice jams on the lower Mohawk River, New York: Lessons from recent breakup events. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs v. 33, n. 1, p. 73. Robichaud and F. Hicks, 2001, Remote monitoring of river ice jam dynamics. Proceedings of the 11th Workshop on the Hydraulics of Ice Covered Rivers.
Abstracts with Programs v. 33, n. 1, p. 73. Robichaud and F. Hicks, 2001, Remote monitoring of river ice jam dynamics
  • J R Lederer
  • J I Garver
Lederer, J.R., and Garver, J.I., 2001, Ice jams on the lower Mohawk River, New York: Lessons from recent breakup events. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs v. 33, n. 1, p. 73. Robichaud and F. Hicks, 2001, Remote monitoring of river ice jam dynamics. Proceedings of the 11th Workshop on the Hydraulics of Ice Covered Rivers.
Ice Jam Response and Mitigation: The need for cooperative succession planning and knowledge transfer
  • K D White
  • F E Hicks
  • S Belatos
  • G Loss
White, K.D., Hicks, F.E., Belatos, S., Loss, G, 2007, Ice Jam Response and Mitigation: The need for cooperative succession planning and knowledge transfer, Proceedings of the 14th Workshop on the Hydraulics of Ice Covered Rivers. In: Cockburn, J.M.H. and Garver, J.I., Proceedings from the 2009 Mohawk Watershed Symposium, Union College, Schenectady NY, 27 March 2009