Irene and Lee storms focus of annual Mohawk Watershed Symposium

Publication Date

In late August, Tropical Storm Irene pounded upstate New York, flooding waterways, wiping out bridges and destroying homes and roads.


The one-two punch of Irene and Lee destroyed homes like this one in Rotterdam Junction.

(Photos by Matt Milless)

Barely two weeks later, Tropical Storm Lee battered an area struggling to recover from Irene’s deluge, leaving a similar path of devastation.

The impact of those two storms – remnants of hurricanes that roared up the East Coast – is the focus of the 2012 Mohawk Watershed Symposium March 16 at College Park Hall.

The keynote speaker is Assemblyman Peter Lopez, R-Schoharie, whose district was especially hard hit by the storms. He will deliver his remarks during a banquet Friday night.

This is the fourth year Union has hosted the daylong symposium, which will feature dozens of presentations on topics including flooding, water quality, watershed management and water rights. More than 100 participants are expected, including scientists, engineers and other professionals, and students. The conference is open to registered participants.

The Mohawk River watershed is a unique and distinctive drainage basin that originates in the valley between the western Adirondacks and the Tug Hill Plateau and flows 140 miles to the east, where it joins the Hudson River.

Other symposium speakers and their topics include:

Steve DiRienzo, meteorologist, National Weather Service, Albany, N.Y.: “Meteorology of tropical storms Irene and Lee.”

Chris L. Gazoorian, hydrologist, U. S. Geological Survey, N.Y. Water Science Center: “How Extreme was Irene? A Comparison of the 2011, 1996 and 1987 floods along the Schoharie Creek.”

Peter M. Nichols, program manager, Schoharie County Soil and Water Conservation District Stream: “Post flood recovery efforts in Schoharie County from a conservation district’s vantage point.”

A.J. Smith, New York State DEC Research Scientist II and Mohawk River Basin program director: “NYSDEC Mohawk River Basin Program: Building collaboration and partnerships in the basin.”

Brian Stratton, director, Canal Corp: “Damage and recovery of the New York State canal system in the wake of Irene and Lee.”

U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam: “Mighty Waters: Strategic partnerships for a sustainable future.”

John H. Williams, U. S. Geological Survey, N.Y. Water Science Center” “New York's shale gas plays and water resources.”

Britt Westergard, senior service hydrologist, National Weather Service, Albany, N.Y.: “Hydrology of Tropical Storms Irene and Lee.”

The conference is organized by John Garver, geology professor and Jaclyn Cockburn, a former Union professor now at the University of Guelph , Ontario.

For more information, click here.