The West Canada Creek supplies the Hinckley Reservoir's drinking water. When the Hinckley Reservoir experienced low water levels in the summer of 2007, it threatened the drinking supply for thousands of Mohawk Valley residents. It also left a disastrous impact on the West Canada Creek, tourism, and the local economy.
Area environmental groups fear this could happen again if the water authority is given the right to more water - but the water authority says it's doing all it can to regulate the creek.
"As they're drawing more water from Hinckley, there will be even less water that can be sent down the river," says Matt Mittiga, fly fisherman.
"You can see the West Canada Creek behind me, it's down 4- 5 feet. If Water Authority is taking double what it's taking now, how low will the river be then?" says Michael Papp, West Canada Creek Campsites Owner.
Papp says if the water gets too low, temperatures will rise. The West Canada Creek is a trout river and trout cannot survive in warm waters. He says there will be environmental consequences as well as a negative impact on business along the river.
"One of the primary reasons people come down here is to canoe, tube, fish, and kayak on this river - if you can't do this, it's going to have an impact with all us of that conduct business along this area," says Papp.
The West Canada Creek is longer, wider and drains more watershed than most New York rivers - in fact it's the 2nd largest tributary feeding the Mohawk River. But with latest agreement, some area residents are concerned that officials are forgetting about how important this river is for the entire Mohawk Valley.
"The West Canada flows through Herkimer County - we are the tail waters of the Hinckley Reservoir- but no one seems to care what is happening and how the impact is downstream - they're only worrying about what's happening at Hinckley," says Papp.
"There really hasn't been much communication as to what kind of safe guards they're going to put in place to make sure there's an adequate flow going down the West Canada Creek," says Mittiga.
But the Mohawk Valley Water Authority says that's not the case.
"This agreement is really good news for folks either below Hinckley Dam, on the creek, or even up on the reservoir itself," says Pat Besher, Executive Director at the Mohawk Valley Water Authority.
He says the Water Authority has the same interest as area environmental groups.
"Our interest is same as their interest - Keep the water levels high, maintain the storage of water in there, and use it as judicially as possible during dry periods, so that you always have an adequate flow without running out like we did in 2007," says Besher.
The water authority says their communication protocol began on Monday. The authority spoke with NYPA and the State Canal Corporation to discuss water levels amid the dry weather conditions.
They say there won't be adjustments made just ye t- but they are monitoring water levels very closely to determine when change will be necessary.