July 19, 2007
By Adam Bosch
It's taken more than two years, but starting Saturday people will once again be allowed to boat and swim in the Swinging Bridge Reservoir in Mongaup Valley.
The announcement comes from Alliance Energy, which bought the reservoir, dam and its hydroelectric plant in May from Mirant.
The nine-mile-long reservoir is the largest lake in Sullivan County, aside from the New York City reservoirs, and it's one of two motorboat lakes in the county.
In May 2005, workers discovered a large sinkhole in the top of the massive earthen dam, and inspections uncovered some significant structural problems. So the reservoir was gradually drained until the north end was an archaeological patchwork: Old roads were revealed, and a school foundation, an old airplane and lots of old tree stumps jutted up from mud that had been the lake bottom.
Mirant promised to have the work done in a year, but spent much of 2005 and 2006 pleading financial hardship to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. FERC ordered Mirant to complete the job.
After acquiring the property, Alliance finished the job 55 days ahead of schedule. A few days ago, Alliance sent notices to lake front property owners to let them know of the reopening. They listed the water level at 1055 feet, and warned people to keep boat speeds slow and to watch for stumps and other underwater debris - particularly in the northern end. Alliance will allow the reservoir to fill up to 1,070 feet at a rate of no more than one foot per day.