The fate of the Swinging Bridge Reservoir (and the other 3 reservoirs in the Mirant system, Toronto, Rio and Mongaup Falls) has been front and center in the news here for the last week. And given all the conflicting information, its probably easier to pick a party nominee for President than figure out what the future holds for Sullivan County’s largest lake. Last Friday, the Sullivan County Democrat had a front page article, "Mirant’s sale of massive properties makes for uncertain future" that painted a pretty pessimistic picture. The paper raised the question on everyone’s mind — will Alliance Energy Renewables continue to operate the reservoirs at their historic levels after the acquisition from Mirant. While all the politicians quoted consider Swinging Bridge and the other reservoirs to be an important asset, none really had an answer. State Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther pointed to the state as a possible owner. But County Attorney Sam Yasgur was quoted as saying "The country tried to interest some public entities [NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation, the NYS Parks Dept and the NYS Power Authority]", but "to no avail." And Gunther added that making the property a state park or preserve would come with usage restrictions.
But then today (Tuesday), the Sullivan County Democrat published a much more optimistic take, "Plans Call for Rising Waters at Swinging Bridge Reservoir." A Mirant spokesperson was quoted as saying that the refilling is scheduled to start this week, although was a little foggy about how long a refill will take. The article includes a fairly circuitous discussion about the license status and the role of FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) in ensuring license compliance by the new owner, Alliance, and whether this can force Alliance to keep the reservoirs at their historic levels.
Notably absent from the 2 Democrat articles and the article in the Times Herald Record is any comment from officials of Alliance Energy Renewables, the likely new owner. A statement from Alliance that they are committed to maintaining the reservoirs at their historic levels and operate the hydroelectric facilities would go a long way to settling jangled nerves. The papers tried to contact an Alliance spokesperson to no avail.