Protecting and Preserving Black Lake and the Surrounding Watershed

Summary of Rainfall, Flows, Lake and Headpond Levels

July 8—July 19

On July 19, 2021, Nelson Turcotte of Black River Limited Partnership sent this letter to the Black Lake Association with the request that we post it. It is a summary of rainfall, flows at Alverno and Kleber Dams, and water levels at the headpond and Black Lake.

Good Afternoon Everyone:

Here is a summary of where we have been since rainfall on July 8th.

As of this morning, we had the headpond at 611.74, but again this morning Jim arrived at the powerhouse to find the trashracks full of weeds again and that has been a daily routine since the rainfall began about 1 ½ weeks ago. So, after raking, the pond works it way to the 611.5 to 611.7 range. This morning the lake was at 612.6 and now inching down after flat lining at 612.63.

I would like to discuss my observations as to the water conditions over the last couple of weeks. Leading into July 8th rainfall, everyone knows the soil conditions were very dry, the flows were quite low and it is likely that the subsurface caverns and sinks within the area were also dry given the extended drought this spring and early summer. So, despite 4.5” of rain fall in a short duration, the lake only climbed to a high of 612.67. IN an average year, I would like to point out that 4.5” +/- of rainfall in a week period would have definitely shot the lake up towards the 613 mark. Because of the dry conditions, the lake responded accordingly by increasing to a moderately high level.

I would also like to point out that if algae blooms are on the rise – it’s not because of a lake at 612.6 but rather because of the very hot and dry weather along with reduced flows and therefore reduce movement of water through the lake. We will argue this point more fully through our environmental consultant Ron Bruch within our license amendment application. Further, we have heard of complaints from an individual who is expressing concern that his sump pump has been running steady since the arrival of this rain and the higher lake level. This is the first we have heard of such a complaint – I guess that is why you buy a spare sump pump then – and further – its not necessarily the moderately higher lake level creating this – but the amount of rain we received in a very short time frame – that particular individual whoever it may be – I would appreciate hearing from them – and please provide my email to them if you happen to know who it is, if you happen to know who might that be. I have several questions I would like to pose to them and like to know the “lay of the land” so to speak around their cottage/home so we can at least respond and provide them fair access to ourselves so we might provide an explanation as to what their problem might be while at the same time explain to them what we have done and are doing with this recent moderate increase of lake levels above the current compliance level of 612.2.

Further, an additional point I would like to make about the consultation process we have managed through over the last, almost five years, and expenditures nearing $150,000 in real/actual costs:

  • Over 1,000 emails have been traded between Black River and other external entities;
  • Over 55 formal letters/reports have been sent out on this subject;
  • Over 55 formal meetings with stakeholders have been chaired by Black River LP.

I have no idea how many hours we have all spent on this issue – countless!

These numbers do not include the numerous internal meetings I have chaired with staff and our legal counsel along with other consultants and the, too many to track, internal emails traded off with my team to manage within the consultive process we have undergone.

As we approach early autumn with our planned license amendment application, I could only hope that all stakeholders will take notice of the effort that has gone into this to derive a protocol which we believe will maximize the benefit for a maximum number of entities/residents in the drainage basin along with those who do not live along the waterways but use them regularly. It will be good to bring this to an end – though we understand that the 401 certification and license will need amending in parallel and this will take additional time. Even for those that may not join a majority agreement with our protocol – they will be able to take solace in knowing that everyone has learned a lot more about the system and that we continue to be a very observant and focused operator and, I think, we have proven, an owner/operator who will listen and do their best to balance the needs of the stakeholders, amongst the stakeholders while being a responsible commercial business and, further, recognizing the constraints and realities we have learned so much about over the last 4 ½ years – and that is there is only so much we can do to help the situation on Black Lake and Black River. None of this is perfect….the drainage basin characteristics (and complexity), the balancing of interests which can be diverging and coupling that with the powerhouse owner’s commercial interests as well as the need to not orphan the bio-environment within the river and lake, the legalities and regulatory environment, the need to pull the emotion out of the process while recognizing the historical record and expertise and the need to correct mistakes of the past while doing our best to continue to be focused on this issue while hoping we can see some stability and calmer waters on this issue once we acquire an amended license.

Recently, in terms of rainfall:

  • July 8th – 1.4”
  • July 13th – 2.6”
  • July 14th – .5”
Alverno Flows
Black Lake
Daily Low Pond Level at Alverno
Kleber Flows
Thursday, July 8, 20201
Friday, July 9, 2021 (3:00 pm)
Saturday, July 10, 20201
Sunday, July 11, 20201
Monday, July 12, 20201
Tuesday, July 13, 20201
July 14, 20201
Thursday, July 15, 20201
Friday, July 16, 20201
Saturday, July 17, 20201
Sunday, July 18, 20201
Monday, July 19, 20201

As we continue through this adverse condition, we propose to update water levels every three to four days unless we hear different from the regulators. So, if I don’t hear from regulators, we will provide another update on Thursday, July 22, 2021.