Niagara Power Project FERC No. 2216

 

DESCRIBE THE EFFECTS OF PROJECT CONSTRUCTION ON THE SURROUNDING ENVIRONMENT

 

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Prepared for: New York Power Authority 

Prepared by: URS Corporation; Gomez and Sullivan Engineers, P.C.; and E/PRO Engineering & Environmental Consulting, LLC

 

August 2005

 

___________________________________________________

 

Copyright © 2005 New York Power Authority

 

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This report identifies and summarizes the social, regional and ecological pre-construction conditions in the Niagara region prior to construction of the Niagara Power Project (NPP).  The information regarding pre-construction conditions may be used in the cumulative effects analysis section of the Applicant Prepared Environmental Assessment.  The objectives of this report were to:

1.       describe the construction of the NPP structures and related facilities, including any relocations,

2.       describe pre-construction terrestrial and aquatic habitats in the area presently occupied by the NPP,

3.       qualitatively describe the excavation, dredging, and spoil placement or filling activities associated with the construction of the Project,

1.       describe the pre-construction cultural and social setting, and

2.       identify the source of the spoil or fill materials generated during construction of the Project.

Major components of the NPP development involved the construction of two below grade water conduits from the upper Niagara River to the forebay, construction of the forebay and Lewiston Reservoir, construction of the Lewiston Pump Generating Plant (LPGP) between the forebay and Lewiston Reservoir, and the construction of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant (RMNPPP).  Major construction milestones were as follows:

March 18, 1958          First  rock excavation

January 25, 1960        First scroll case completed and tested at the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant

June 25, 1960             Conduit excavation completed

August 19, 1960         First turbine runner installed at the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant

December 31, 1960    Conduits and canal watered

January 28, 1961        Unit 1 at the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant put into regular commercial operation

February 10, 1961      First Power ceremonies

September 30, 1961    Adams and Schoellkopf plants cease operation

December 1, 1961      Unit 1 at LPGP put into regular commercial operation

October 11, 1962       Twelfth and final unit at LPGP put into regular commercial operation

PROJECT CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITIES

Construction activities occurred from the upper Niagara River near the southern boundary of the City of Niagara Falls along a 500-foot wide conduit right-of-way to the main Project area in Lewiston.  Construction of the Project also involved the use of spoil storage and placement areas, temporary and permanent relocation of roads, and the placement of fill along sections of the upper Niagara River shoreline (Robert Moses Parkway route).  In general, permanent fill placement occurred along the upper Niagara River shoreline (near the intake structures), conduit routes, and in Artpark.  Temporary spoil stockpiles were placed along Buffalo Avenue, adjacent to the intake construction, within the Reservoir footprint, and on property located on Porter Road in the City of Niagara Falls.  The rock material stockpiled within the reservoir footprint was used for concrete, aggregate, or as construction material for the reservoir dikes and backfill of the conduit routes.  Both topsoil and overburden were used throughout the project for finish-grade landscaping.  Clay overburden was also used to construct the reservoir dikes.  Additionally, concrete batch plants were set up near major construction areas (intakes, conduits, Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, and Lewiston Pump Generating Plant).

 

 

Conduits

The route of the two parallel water conduits extends from the intake structures on the upper Niagara River to the Forebay.  Topsoil and overburden was stripped off and stockpiled within the future reservoir area.   Bedrock was removed from the conduit areas and placed along the upper Niagara River shoreline to develop the Robert Moses Parkway. 

In constructing the two intakes, a cofferdam was installed to create a dry work area.  Excavated material from the intake structure locations was placed in the Robert Moses Parkway right-of-way.  Additionally, an ice escape channel was blasted into the rock downstream of the intakes.  Rock removed for this channel was used in the construction of the Buckhorn Island diversion dikes, which was proceeding at approximately the same time as intake construction.

Forebay

The 71-acre Forebay, which receives the water from the conduits, serves as headwater for the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant and tailwater from the Lewiston Pump Generating Plant.  Material removed from the Forebay excavation was stored within the reservoir boundaries for use during construction of the reservoir dike.

Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant

The Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant (RMNPP) is located at the western end of the forebay on the face of the Niagara River gorge.  To construct the RMNPP, topsoil and overburden was stripped and stored within the reservoir footprint.  The rock was removed from the gorge wall and permanently placed in the Lewiston Spoil Area, which is part of the Earl W. Brydges Artpark State Park.

 

Lewiston Pump Generating Plant

The Lewiston Pump Generating Plan (LPGP), situated between the forebay and the Lewiston Reservoir, is built on bedrock.  One end of the reservoir dike is anchored to the plant’s north end and the other to its south end.  The dike is a rockfill structure with an impervious clay core.  To reduce the permeability of the foundation, the bedrock under the central core was extensively grouted. 

NYPA-Funded Non-Project Related Construction

As part of the development of the NPP, numerous public benefit projects were undertaken.  Original efforts related to the Project included construction of an 8.5-mile section of the Robert Moses Parkway from the North Grand Island Bridges to the Upper Mountain Road interchange, enlargement of and construction of a new parking lot on Goat Island, enhancements to the Niagara Reservation State Park, including a contribution of parcels of land toward creation of a new parking lot, construction of a new American Rapids bridge connecting the mainland to Goat Island, construction of a maintenance garage at Whirlpool State Park for the Office of State Parks and Recreation, and enlargement of Hyde Park in the City of Niagara Falls.

Additionally, land was either donated by NYPA or provided as a site by NYPA to local and state agencies.  This included provision of land and the development of Reservoir State Park, provision of land for the Schoellkopf Geological Museum, provision of land for the development of Artpark, donation of land and development of DeFranco Park in the City of Niagara Falls, and donation of land and development of Veterans Park in the Town of Niagara.

Project Construction Relocations

Seven permanent relocations were required to complete the project.  Four relocations were required for construction of the Reservoir: Two relocations involved Fish and Gill creeks, respectively, which were rerouted around the Reservoir, The third relocation  involved moving a portion of Garlow Road  east  of the Reservoir.  The fourth relocation involved the existing transmission lines that crossed through the reservoir footprint, which were relocated north (just north of the reservoir) and east (approximately two miles east of the reservoir), through the Tuscarora Nation. 

The fifth relocation was the moving of 76 homes for the construction of the conduits.  The sixth relocation was the power lines crossing the Niagara River from the Sir Adam Beck Generating Station in Ontario.  These lines originally crossed in the future location of the RMNPP and forebay.  The lines were moved approximately one half mile to the south. 

The seventh relocation involved either moving homes or building new homes for Tuscarora that were impacted by construction of the Lewiston Reservoir.  Twenty-nine households were affected and eventually relocated onto other lands owned by the Tuscarora Nation.

Although not a relocation, a 630-foot section of the Gill Creek streambed was reinforced with a concrete bottom within the section that crosses over the conduits.

NYPA-Funded Non-Project Construction Relocations

To construct the Robert Moses Parkway, the section north of the Rainbow Bridge and south of Ontario Avenue required the relocation of 14 houses from Rapids Boulevard, and the relocation of Whirlpool Street.  The houses were moved to a newly constructed subdivision called College Terrace, while Whirlpool Street was moved slightly to the east of its former location.

PRE-RMNPP CONSTRUCTION AQUATIC ENVIRONMENT

Project construction took place in the following areas of the Niagara River: (1) the area around the present-day Buckhorn Marsh weirs and Buckhorn Island Diversion Dikes on the north end of Grand Island; (2) the shoreline of the upper Niagara River near the location of the present-day intakes and along the eastern end of Goat Island (Niagara Reservation State Park); (3) the area around the present-day Robert Moses Power Plant in the lower Niagara River, and (4) specific areas of Gill and Fish Creeks where the Lewiston Reservoir was created and where the conduits were placed under a section of Gill Creek. 

The area in the vicinity of the Buckhorn Island Diversion Dikes and the north end of the Buckhorn Island Dikes on the north end of Buckhorn Island likely consisted of moderately deep (approximately 10 feet.) water. Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) was located in water from three to five feet deep, and out to a narrow point about 1,000 feet from shore.  

Prior to the construction of the Robert Moses Parkway, as discussed above, much of the shoreline had been altered and numerous industries existed here.  Just west of the present-day intakes there were several small areas of SAV and three small islands (Conners Island and two unnamed islands).  This area was just to the south of the area where fill was placed to create the present-day shoreline.  SAV also existed in the upper Niagara River at depths of 1.5 to 5.5 feet in the mainstem, and at depths of less than 1.5 feet in sheltered bays.  Substrates in the area included soft (“mud”), sand and stony areas.  For approximately 2,000 feet to the west of Conners Island, no SAV is indicated as existing in this area. 

Along the eastern end of Goat Island (i.e., Niagara Reservation State Park) where fill was placed, the upper Niagara River has high water velocities and standing waves and unlikely to contain SAV. 

The shallow, near-shore zone in the area of the present-day RMNPP likely existed as a narrow strip and contained large-grained substrate (e.g., large cobble, boulder, and bedrock).  A 1928 survey of SAV in the lower Niagara River indicated that SAV was found downstream of Lewiston extending 10-30 feet from the shore over an area 30-60 feet wide in water 3-12 feet deep.  The survey did not indicate whether SAV was found upstream of Lewiston in the area now occupied by the RMNPP.

Portions of Gill and Fish Creeks were relocated for the construction of the Lewiston Reservoir.  In the area where the reservoir was constructed, both creeks appear to have been meandering channels, bordered largely by a thin strip of riparian vegetation, and surrounded by agricultural lands.  The creeks in this area were likely slow-moving, with little gradient.  From the existing information, it is not possible to determine the species of aquatic plants that grew in these areas.

PRE-RMNPP CONSTRUCTION TERRESTRIAL ENVIRONMENT

Construction activities took place in the following land areas:  (1) the shoreline of the upper Niagara River near the present-day location of the intakes, (2) the area around the present-day RMNPP on the lower Niagara River, (3) those locations where the forebay, Lewiston Reservoir, maintenance/equipment warehouse, switchyard, and conduits are found today, (4) along the present-day route of the Robert Moses Parkway, on the Niagara River, (5) parkland in the City of Niagara Falls, (6) present-day Earl W. Brydges Artpark, (7) Niagara Reservation State Park, (8) Whirlpool/Devil’s Hole State Parks, (9) and those areas where fill or excavated material was temporarily placed or stored.

Prior to construction, the terrestrial habitat on Buckhorn Island in the area where the Buckhorn Island Diversion Dikes are located consisted of a mixed growth of herbaceous, shrub, and tree species.  There appears to have been a mix of upland and wetland habitats.  The areas along the shoreline, especially on the northwest and north end (near the present-day site of the dikes) were herbaceous and shrub wetland.  It is likely that some coastal wetlands existed in the area where the dikes were constructed.

Before Project construction, the area adjacent to Robert Moses Parkway of the upper Niagara River was a heavily developed industrial area.  This development encompassed the entire shoreline and adjacent lands.  Because of these conditions, the shoreline had little if any riparian vegetation and lacked significant growth of emergent aquatic vegetation (EAV).

On the 1953 USACE navigation chart, Conners Island and the two unnamed islands appear to be submerged.  It is therefore likely they were not true islands, but shallow areas with EAV.  For approximately 2,000 feet to the west of Conners Island, there is no indication from existing information that EAV existed in this area.  Further west, there existed a small bay near the Niagara Falls Power Company.  This bay appears to have been shallow and contained at least some EAV. 

The conduits, from the intakes to the forebay, traverse land that was heavily developed prior to Project construction.  The forebay area, which includes a switchyard and maintenance/equipment warehouse, was a golf course and agricultural land prior to project construction.  The Lewiston Reservoir area was primarily agricultural fields with a few patches of undeveloped woodlands.  Also within the reservoir construction area were several roads, residential properties, and Gill and Fish Creeks.  The streams, from Garlow Road west, meandered through active agricultural land.  There was vegetated riparian zone along both streams that ranged from zero to several hundred feet in width.  Most of the land adjacent to the streams was actively farmed close to the stream banks.  Gill Creek passed through a golf course.  Except for one section, it was bordered by an approximately 25-foot-wide band of riparian vegetation on each side. 

Three railroads or railroad rights-of-way crossed the Project area.  These included (1) the former Great Gorge Railroad right-of-way, (2) an inoperative track owned by the New York Central Railroad that descended into the gorge and that was used as a haul road during construction, and (3) the operational New York Central Railroad on the rim of the gorge.  The portion of the RMNPP site that is upslope of the gorge had once been the location of a railroad line and a quarry.  The areas along the shoreline of the lower Niagara River that were affected by Project construction consisted of the site of the RMNPP and an associated access road, and additional shore access created for Whirlpool/Devils Hole State Park and Artpark.  There were the remains of a railroad bed (former Great Gorge Railroad) and several footpaths in the gorge prior to Project construction.  The immediate shoreline along the lower Niagara River in the Project area was primarily an undeveloped, wooded riparian zone.  Because of the steep topography, no large areas of wetland existed in this area.  Prior to Project construction, the Artpark area was utilized for commercial/industrial activities.  Just prior to Project construction, the area had several roads meandering through it and there were several areas of disturbed, bare soils and sparse vegetation.

Surface Water and Groundwater Hydraulics

As part of this study an evaluation of river and groundwater hydraulics was conducted to determine what effect the operation of the NPP has on both water regimes.  To evaluate the surface water hydraulics, data were used from a 1953 study conducted by the International Joint Commission, and 1991 to 2002 river hydraulic data collected by NYPA.  The groundwater evaluation used data from the 1964 United States Geological Survey study and an ongoing NYPA groundwater study begun in 2003.

Based on available data, current river water levels for a diversion flow of approximately 100,000 cfs are higher than pre-1950 water levels.  The magnitude of this difference is greatest in the Chippawa-Grass Island Pool and diminishes with distance upstream.  For a flow diversion of 100,000 cfs, current water levels at Material Dock are 0.85 feet higher than pre-1950 conditions. 

The primary groundwater aquifer in this region exists within layers of bedrock.  Several unique water-bearing zones are found in the bedrock, which together comprise a relatively complex groundwater flow regime.  Groundwater flow patterns and levels have changed since the construction of the Project.  This effect is most pronounced in the area of the conduits and is the result of groundwater being redirected through external drains designed to reduce hydrostatic pressure on the walls of the conduits.  In general, groundwater levels very near the conduits have been lowered by tens of feet (dewatering effects farther away from the conduits are much less), and groundwater in the vicinity of the conduits now flows towards the conduits rather than towards the south or west (ultimately heading toward a large diameter sewer tunnel or the Niagara River gorge).

As a result of filling the Lewiston Reservoir, groundwater levels near the reservoir dike generally increased.  The increased groundwater levels near the dike were generally less than ten feet.  The effect of increased water levels diminished farther away from the reservoir.

 

1.0     INTRODUCTION

This report identifies and summarizes the social, regional and ecological pre-construction conditions in the Niagara region prior to construction of the Niagara Power Project (NPP).  The information regarding pre-construction conditions may be used in the cumulative effects analysis section of the Applicant Prepared Environmental Assessment.

1.1         Objectives

The objectives of this report are as follows:

·         Describe the construction of the NPP structures and related facilities, including any relocations,

·         Describe pre-construction terrestrial and aquatic habitats in the area presently occupied by the NPP,

·         Qualitatively describe the excavation, dredging, and spoil placement or filling activities associated with the construction of the Project,

·         Describe the pre-construction cultural and social setting, and

·         Identify the source of the spoil or fill materials generated during construction of the Project.

1.2         Investigation Area

The investigation area includes areas affected by both Project-related and NYPA-funded non-Project-related construction.  These areas are described below and depicted in Figure 1.1-1.

Areas within the FERC project boundary:  These areas include the locations of Project-specific structures, namely, the water intakes, water conduits, forebay, Lewiston Reservoir, Lewiston Pump Generating Plant, Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, the tailrace tunnels, and portions of the Robert Moses Parkway.

Lands used to store spoil and stockpile material:  These are generally adjacent or near the major construction areas and include Artpark, the reservoir basin, and several locations adjacent to the conduits.

Non-Project-related construction:  These are areas that were created or constructed with the Project- funding but are not part of the NPP.  These areas include the extension of Goat Island, portions of the Robert Moses Parkway, expansion of Hyde Park, and allocation of land for several city and the present-day state parks.

1.3         Methods

This investigation involved compiling and reviewing existing information regarding the physical condition of the investigation area before the Project was built and during its construction.  Information for the time period of interest (1951 to 1962) was reviewed.  Information from before this time period was also reviewed.  Information was found in the form of books, newspaper articles, government reports, and NYPA records, historical and current topographic and navigation maps, historical aerial and ground level photographs, and construction drawings and documentation.  In addition, NYPA staff and local historians were interviewed regarding their knowledge of the investigation area’s pre-construction conditions.

 

Figure 1.1-1

Project Location

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

2.0     BACKGROUND AND PRE-CONSTRUCTION SETTING

The 1,880-MW (firm capacity) Niagara Power Project (NPP) is one the largest non-federal hydroelectric facilities in North America.  The Project was licensed to the Power Authority of the State of New York (now the New York Power Authority) in 1957.  Construction of the Project began in 1958, and electricity was first produced in 1961.  The Project occupies land within the following jurisdictions: City of Niagara Falls, Town of Niagara, the Village of Lewiston, and the Town of Lewiston.  This section provides a review of the Project’s regional setting, an overview of the international treaty on water use for the Niagara River, and the pre-construction cultural and social setting.

2.1         Regional Setting

The NPP is located in Niagara County adjacent to the international border with Canada.  Niagara County is divided topographically into two regions, one above the escarpment and one below the escarpment.  The region above the escarpment comprises the southern half of the county.  The NPP is located within this upper region.   Streams above the escarpment eventually flow, either directly or through larger streams, into the Niagara River.  Streams below the escarpment flow either into the Niagara River or Lake Ontario.

The Niagara River, which bounds the county to the south and west, consists of two major reaches: the upper Niagara River and the lower Niagara River.  The two reaches are separated by Niagara Falls.  The upper Niagara River extends about 22 miles from Lake Erie to the Falls, and the lower Niagara River about 15 miles from the Falls to Lake Ontario.  NPP structures are found along the shorelines of both river sections. 

At Grand Island (upper Niagara River), the river divides into the west channel, known as the Canadian or Chippawa Channel, and the east channel, known as the American or Tonawanda Channel.  At the north end of Grand Island, the channels unite to form the 3-mile-long Chippawa-Grass Island Pool (approximately 9 feet below the level of Lake Erie), at the downstream end of which is the International Niagara Control Structure.  This gated flow-control structure extends from the Canadian shoreline to the approximate midpoint of the river.  The Falls are located about 4,500 feet downstream of the control structure.  Below the International Niagara Control Structure, the river surface elevation falls 50 feet through the Cascade Rapids before being divided into two channels by Goat Island.  These channels convey the flow to the brink of Niagara Falls: the Horseshoe Falls (Canadian Falls) on the west side and the American Falls on the east.  At the Falls, the river surface drops approximately 167 feet.

Below the Falls, the river flows through the 7-mile-long Niagara gorge, which extends from the Falls to the foot of the escarpment at Lewiston.  The river emerges from the gorge at Lewiston, subsequently dropping another 5 feet to Lake Ontario.

2.2         International Treaties on Water Use

In 1909, the United States and Canada signed the Treaty Between the United States and Great Britain Relating to Boundary Waters and Questions Arising Between the United States and Canada (1909 Treaty), establishing a framework for the allocation of boundary waters between the two countries.  Among other provisions, the 1909 Treaty created the International Joint Commission (IJC), and granted it broad authority over “uses or obstructions or diversions, whether temporary or permanent, of boundary waters on either side of the line, affecting natural level or flow of boundary waters on the other side of the line.”  The 1909 Treaty provided further that “except in cases provided for by special agreement between them, [the U.S. and Canada] will not permit the construction or maintenance on the respective sides of the boundary of any remedial or protective works or any dams or other obstructions…, the effect of which is to raise the natural level of waters on the other side of the boundary unless the construction or maintenance thereof is approved by [the IJC].”  IJC authority extends to all United States-Canada boundary waters, including the Niagara River.

In addition to creating the IJC, the 1909 Treaty set diversion limits on the Niagara River, limiting the amount of water that the United States could take from above Niagara Falls for power purposes to 20,000 cfs.  In 1950, the United States and Canada renegotiated diversion limits on the Niagara River and signed the Treaty Between Canada and the United States of America Concerning the Diversion of the Niagara River (1950 Treaty).  The 1950 treaty required that a minimum of 100,000 cfs flow over the Falls during the daytime during the tourist season, and that a minimum of 50,000 cfs flow over the Falls at all other times.  The 1950 Treaty further provided that, except for certain designated portions of the outflow from Lake Erie, the remaining flow was to be divided equally between the United States and Canada and could be used for power generation purposes.  While the 1950 treaty established new baseline flows, it did not alter the jurisdictional authority granted to the IJC by the 1909 Treaty to oversee boundary waters and to ensure that minimum flows are maintained.  In response to the 1950 Treaty, the IJC created the International Niagara Board of Control, which provides routine management authority over the Niagara River

Within approximately three months after the signing of 1950 Treaty, Ontario Hydro began construction of the Sir Adam Beck 2 Generating Station, designed to use Canada’s share of the water.

In response to the June 7, 1956, collapse of the Schoellkopf power plant, Congress passed the Niagara Redevelopment Act in August 1957, directing the Federal Power Commission (today’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC) to issue a license to the Power Authority for the construction and operation of a power project with capacity to utilize the entire United States share of the Niagara River permitted to be used by international agreement.  President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the legislation on August 21, 1957.  On January 30, 1958, following several months of hearings in Washington, D. C., the Federal Power Commission issued the license to the Power Authority.

The water level in the Chippawa-Grass Island Pool is regulated in accordance with a 1993 directive of the International Niagara Board of Control.  This directive requires that, to ameliorate the adverse effect of high or low water levels in the pool, the Power Entities (Ontario Power Generation, or OPG, and the Power Authority) operate the International Niagara Control Structure to ensure the maintenance of an operational long-term average pool level of 171.17 meters (El. 562.75 feet in USLSD 1935, El. 561.5 IGLD 1985).  The directive also establishes adverse high or low water levels in the pool, as well as certain tolerances for the pool’s level as measured at the Material Dock gauge.   The maximum permissible accumulated deviation is 1.5 feet per day within a 3-foot normal range.  The maximum level in the pool may be increased temporarily to assist in flushing ice over the Falls.  The Directive also provides that these tolerances may be waived in case of significant risk of severe property damage or loss of life.

2.3         Pre-Construction Cultural and Social Setting

2.3.1        Population

Niagara County is part of the Buffalo-Niagara metropolitan regional center.  Niagara County has a population of 219,846 (Census Bureau 2000).  The total population of the four Niagara County communities in which Project lands are found (City of Niagara Falls, Town of Niagara, Town of Lewiston, and Village of Lewiston) is 83,609  (Census Bureau 2000).  Niagara County’s largest city, Niagara Falls, has a current population of 55,677, down from 102,394 in 1960 (Census Bureau 2000 and Census Bureau 1960).  Land within the four host communities is used for heavy industrial, residential, and agricultural purposes, with the City of Niagara Falls being the industrial center of the area.

In the past century, the Niagara region has undergone extensive change.  An area where this change is most evident is population.  As a whole, Niagara County’s population grew steadily from 74,961 in 1900 to 242,269 in 1960.  The Towns of Niagara and Lewiston, the Village of Lewiston, and the City of Niagara Falls also exhibited this trend for the same period.  From 1930 to 1960, the City of Niagara Falls and the communities adjacent to it formed 60% of the county’s population. 

The population of the City of Niagara Falls, which was the major population center for the region before and during construction, grew from 11,700 in 1893 to 19,457 in 1900, and reached its peak of 102,394 before 1960 (Census Bureau 1962).  This last population increase paralleled the city’s transformation into the commercial and cultural center of the region.  A trend toward suburbanization would soon follow, however, with substantial population growth in surrounding towns and villages.  Urban and suburban growth proceeded concomitantly during the 1950s, but urban growth peaked around 1960, and City of Niagara Falls population began to decline.

2.3.2        Economy

Prior to Project construction, manufacturing was the largest sector of Niagara County industry.  In 1950, 37,353 people are employed in the manufacturing sector, with 18,697 of them employed in the City of Niagara Falls.  The development of industry in Niagara Falls was primarily due to the proximity of the Niagara River’s hydroelectric power.  Among the first industries to move to the Niagara region were the Carborundum Company, Pittsburgh Reduction, Union Carbide, and the International Paper Company.  As the manufacturing processes advanced, the economy of the region likewise advanced.

In 1950, retail and wholesale trade was the next largest industrial sector.  Niagara County employed over 11,294 people in this industry, of which over 6,000 were employed in the City of Niagara Falls.  The service sector was the third largest employer, with 5,363 people employed in the county and 2,563 of these in the City of Niagara Falls.  These statistics support the fact the City of Niagara Falls was the population and industrial center for the Niagara region in 1950.  Outside the City of Niagara Falls, agriculture was the dominant economic activity.

In the early 1900s, agriculture provided a strong basis for local economies.  About half of Niagara County, including the Towns of Niagara and Lewiston and the Village of Lewiston, was devoted to agriculture.  Region wide, dairying and fruit growing were the dominant forms of agriculture.

2.3.3        Parks And Transportation

From 1900 to 1950, the Niagara region was evolving from a slow paced area at the crossroads between two countries into an-industrial center, due primarily to abundant water and hydroelectric power.  The proximity of the area to a major ship and rail transshipment center, Buffalo—not to mention the attraction of the Falls itself—added greatly to the vitality of the region.  The explosive industrial growth and the rise of tourism brought about a spirited and lengthy public debate on whether this same rapid development of tourism and industry was ruining the scenic beauty of the Niagara region and particularly of Niagara Falls.

This concern for the preservation of the environment had, previous to the twentieth century, resulted in the “Free Niagara Movement,” led by Frederick Law Olmsted.  In 1885, the State of New York took control of the land bordering the American Falls, and created the 430-acre Niagara Reservation State Park, the nation’s oldest state park.  The park is made up of numerous islands, as well as the Prospect Point area (Figure 2.3-1).  Reservation State Park highlights include a visitor center, observation tower where elevators take visitors either down to the base of the gorge or 80 feet above street level to view the Falls, and guided trolley tours of the park’s most scenic vistas.  Since the creation of this first park, more land has been set aside as parkland (Whirlpool State Park, Devils Hole State Park, and Artpark), helping  the region remain a major tourist area.

In addition to Reservation State Park, other parks were found throughout the region prior to Project construction.  Three of today’s parks that existed prior to construction are:

·         Hyde Park, the largest park operated by the city (Figure 2.3-1).  Prior to the construction of the NPP, Hyde Park had an 18-hole golf course, athletic fields, and various nature trails along Gill Creek, which flowed through the park’s western portion.  A number of changes have been made to Hyde Park.  These will be detailed in Section 4.0.

·         The Whirlpool Rapids Trails, located 2 miles north of Niagara Falls.  The trail system here offers two levels of recreational opportunities.  The upper level offers views of the mile-long rapids, along with a playground and picnic area.  The river level is accessible by walking the trails and steps that descend into the Niagara gorge and that lead to Devil’s Hole State Park.  The Niagara Gorge Trail System extends through the park and parallels the Niagara gorge, which extends from Niagara Falls to Lewiston. 

·         Bond Lake County Park, a 545-acre park in the Town of Lewiston developed for multiple uses.  The lakes attract migrating waterfowl during spring and fall while the surrounding fields and brushland support a variety of birds and wildflowers.  A narrow section of the Niagara escarpment occurs along the southern edge of the park.  Here are found 13 miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing.

Throughout the early twentieth century, the increased use of the automobile as well as the extension and improvement of roads made the Niagara region more accessible and contributed to an upswing in visitors to the region.  The transportation system of the region played an additional role in providing mobility to residents of the region.  Even though the Niagara region was not connected directly to an interstate or to the New York State Thruway, the network of town and city streets and county roads and rail lines allowed efficient vehicular movement in and around the Niagara region. 

The City of Niagara Falls was the location for the first suspension bridge across the Niagara River—the Niagara Suspension Bridge (over the Whirlpool Rapids)—and soon developed into a major international rail transshipment center.  Population was starting to locate to the city.  A streetcar service was soon set up in response to the population growth.  This streetcar provided service to Niagara Falls and Queenston, Ontario, via two international crossings, and to Lewiston.  Eventually streetcars and rail passenger service were phased out, and supplanted by automobiles.

2.3.4        Niagara University

Niagara University was founded in 1856, and in 1863 was chartered by the New York State legislature as the Seminary of Our Lady of Angels.  Following the destruction of the original building by fire in December 1864 new construction was undertaken, and by April 1865, the first buildings of the present university were built.  In 1869, the original structure was rebuilt.  The suburban campus occupies 300 acres adjacent to the Project, with institutional buildings, residences, athletic complexes and parking.

2.3.5        Tuscarora Nation

The lands of the Tuscarora Nation are bounded the Town of Lewiston.  Before project construction, they consisted of 6,249 acres or about 9.8 square miles that were composed of three contiguous parcels acquired by the Tuscaroras at different times.  The Senecas, who originally owned the land, granted the Tuscaroras 640 acres to settle sometime in the late 1700s.   They sold their interests to the Holland Land Company in 1797 who then ceded one square mile to the Tuscaroras in 1798.   The Company ceded a second parcel of 1,280 acres to the Tuscaroras in 1799.  In 1804, using funds from the sale of Tuscarora lands in North Carolina that were held in trust by the United States Secretary of War, the Tuscaroras purchased a third land parcel consisting of 4,329 acres from the Holland Land Company.  Fee title to this tract was subsequently transferred by the United States to the Tuscaroras in 1809. 

In spite of the Tuscarora village being burned by the British in the War of 1812 and the area abandoned until 1815, the Tuscarora returned to the their lands and developed a productive agricultural and farming community.  In the late nineteenth century, Tuscarora farms produced large amounts of grains, fruits and livestock that were consumed locally as well as sold in surrounding communities.   In addition, Tuscarora women sold their beadwork to tourists at Niagara Falls.  Tuscarora employment options changed in response to the development of industry in Niagara County in the twentieth century.  More and more Tuscarora took wage jobs in surrounding communities.  Fewer and fewer families practiced farming as an economic mainstay by the 1950s.  Other subsistence activities, such as fishing, hunting, and berry gathering remained important cultural and social activities.       The rural character of Tuscarora lands remained unchanged up until project construction when 557 acres of Tuscarora land were acquired by the New York Power Authority for construction of the Lewiston Reservoir.   

 

Figure 2.3-1

New York State and City of Niagara Falls Parks

 

3.0     NIAGARA POWER PROJECT DEVELOPMENT

The shortage of low-cost power resulting from the collapse of the Schoellkopf Power Plant imposed on the Power Authority (which, in August 1957, received a license to construct and operate a new facility) the need for an aggressive construction schedule.  Due to the substantial size of the construction project and the aforementioned aggressive schedule, the Niagara Power Project was divided into six work sections (Figure 3.0-1).  The project began with Sections 1, 4, and 6.  When certain construction milestones had been met, Sections 2, 3, and 5 were begun.

·         Work Section 1, which included the intakes and the first 6,600 feet of the two underground conduits.

·         Work Section 2, water conduit construction, which began where Work Section No. 1 left off and extended approximately 9,000 feet to the north, across the City of Niagara Falls. 

·         Work Section 3, which involved the construction of 6,200 linear feet of the water conduits and which reached almost to the present-day Lewiston Pump Generating Plant and Lewiston Reservoir in the Town of Lewiston. 

·         Work Section 4, which was completed in three phases.  Phase I was the construction of the open canal and forebay.  The open canal extended from the terminus of the underground conduits to the forebay, a distance of approximately 1,800 feet.  The forebay extended approximately 4,000 feet westward from the canal to the RMNPP.  Phase II was the construction of the dikes for the Project’s 1,900-acre reservoir. Phase III was the construction of a rock-crushing plant. 

·         Work Section 5; Lewiston Pump Generating Plant, which is located at the eastern end of the forebay.  Construction of the plant required the construction of 12 generating units (a Francis-type pump-turbine connected to a motor-generator unit).  The plant’s intake/discharge structure functions as a dam at the western end of the reservoir.  Within the dam are the intake/discharge penstocks, the powerhouse, and associated structures. 

·         Work Section 6; the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, which contains 13 power generating units and the tailrace, discharging into the lower Niagara River.  The RMNPP functions as a dam at the western end of the forebay.  Within the dam are the intakes and penstocks, the powerhouse, and associated structures.

3.1         Project Location

The construction activities related to the NPP include structures directly related to the Project and additional public-benefit projects completed in conjunction with the NPP.

The NPP consists of six elements: (1) two Niagara River intake structures, (2) two underground conduits and associated pump stations, (3) a forebay, (4) the Lewiston Reservoir and Lewiston Pump Generating Plant, (5) the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, and (6) the Niagara switchyard.  All these elements are shown in Figure 3.0-1.

The early 1960s brought considerable public investment to the Niagara Falls area.  The Power Authority itself undertook additional construction on numerous projects that were not directly related to the Project.  In addition to the NPP, roads, parks, and bridges were constructed throughout the immediate Project area, some of them financed by the Power Authority.  These projects are discussed in Section 4.3. 

3.2         Project Construction Timeline

On February 10, 1961, three and a half years after the Power Authority had been issued a license to construct, and following round-the-clock labor of a work force of up to 11,700 during that time, first power was generated at the NPP.  By October 11, 1962, when the twelfth and final unit at the LPGP had been placed in commercial operation, full power was delivered.  On November 30, 1963, the entire project was completed.

Major construction milestones were as follows (NYPA 1965):

March 18, 1958          First rock excavation

January 25, 1960        First scroll case completed and tested at the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant

June 25, 1960             Conduit excavation completed

August 19, 1960         First turbine runner installed at the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant

December 31, 1960    Conduits and canal watered

January 28, 1961        Unit 1 at the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant put into regular commercial operation

February 10, 1961      First Power ceremonies

September 30, 1961    Adams and Schoellkopf plants cease operation

December 1, 1961      Unit 1 at LPGP put into regular commercial operation

October 11, 1962       Twelfth and final unit at LPGP put into regular commercial operation

 

Figure 3.0-1

Niagara Power Project Construction Work Sections

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

4.0     CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITIES

Construction activities associated with the NPP extended from the upper Niagara River in the City of Niagara Falls along the conduit right of way (as much as 500 feet wide), to the main Project site in Lewiston.  Construction of the Project also involved the establishment of spoil placement and storage areas, the temporary and permanent relocation of roads, and the filling of a portion of the upper Niagara River shoreline along the Robert Moses Parkway route.  In addition, 76 houses were relocated from the conduit right-of-way to a new residential development (Veteran Heights) in the Town of Niagara east of Niagara Falls.  This new subdivision (off Military Road), with streets, sewer, and water facilities, covers 172 landscaped acres.  All areas affected by construction of the NPP, whether permanently or temporarily, are presented in Figure 4.0-1.  Figures showing construction activities were generated from data gathered from numerous historical sources, including NYPA as-built construction drawings, photographs, document narratives, and quarterly construction reports completed by the project engineers (PASNY 1958, PASNY 1959, PASNY 1960, PASNY 1961, PASNY 1962, PASNY 1963, NYPA 1965)

4.1         Construction within the FERC Project Boundary

Project-specific construction was generally limited to the NYPA owned lands and adjacent parcels within the FERC Project boundary.  Construction areas are shown in Figures 3.0-1, 4.1-1, 4.1-2, 4.1-3 and 4.1-4.  Construction activities within the FERC Project boundary are summarized in the following sections.

4.1.1        Water Conduits

The two parallel underground water conduits extend from the intake structures on the upper Niagara River to the forebay, a linear route of 21,800 feet.  The construction of the conduits was divided into three work sections, as described in Section 3.0.  For each work section, the topsoil and overburden was stripped off and stockpiled within the footprint of the future Lewiston Reservoir.  Bedrock was blasted and excavated to a depth ranging from 72 feet near the intakes to 137 feet at the forebay.  The bottom of the excavation ranged from approximately El. 488 feet USLSD (United States Lake Survey Datum) 1935 at the intakes to El. 478 feet near the forebay, to supply a head in the conduit of about 10 feet. 

Bedrock was removed from the conduit right-of-way and placed along the existing upper Niagara River shoreline to allow the construction of the Robert Moses Parkway (see Figure 4.0-1). - Fill resulting from this excavation was also used to extend Goat Island to the east by approximately 8.5 acres to create additional parking.

To facilitate the placement of concrete for the conduits, a concrete plant (Aggregate Plant 8) was constructed adjacent to the route of the eastern conduit (Figure 4.1-3).  Aggregate for the concrete plant was taken from the rock from the forebay as well as the water conduits right-of-way.   Construction necessitated the temporary relocation of numerous rail and road bridges.  Additionally, 76 houses were moved from the Echota area in Section 1 of the conduits to a new subdivision, Veteran Heights, located on Military Road (see Figures 4.1-2, 4.1.1-1 and 4.1.1-2).

The conduits, constructed to a height of 66 feet, were covered over with sand, clay and silt, crushed rock, soil and topsoil.  Figures 4.1.1-3 and 4.1.1-4 show conduit sections 1 and 2, respectively, under construction.

Following construction of the conduit, high-voltage overhead transmission lines were built along the west side of Conduit Work Section 3.  The lines begin at the switchyard, running south along the west side of Conduit Work Section 3 before heading east to connect to other transmission corridors.

Prior to constructing the intakes, a cofferdam was built to create a 72-acre work area within the riverbed, where the intake structures would be constructed (Figures 4.1.1-5 and 4.1.1-6).  Excavated material from the riverbed was placed in the present-day Robert Moses Parkway right-of-way.  Additionally, an ice escape channel was blasted into the rock downstream of the intakes.  Rock removed for this channel was used in the construction of the Buckhorn Island dikes (Figure 4.0-1), which are used to help divert river flow into the water intakes.

4.1.2        Forebay

The 71-acre forebay collects water from the conduits and serves as headwater for the RMNPP and tailwater for the LPGP.  Forebay water is either pumped up to the reservoir or discharged through the RMNPP, to the lower Niagara River, producing electricity in the process.  Cut directly into rock, the forebay is approximately 4,200 feet long, 500 feet wide, and 110 feet deep.  Its capacity is nearly 2 billion gallons.  Bottom elevation of the forebay is El. 500 feet.  The water depth in the forebay varies between 35 and 80 feet, depending upon Project operations. 

During forebay construction, topsoil and overburden (i.e., topsoil and underlying soil) were stripped from the forebay area and stored within the reservoir boundaries (Figures 4.1-4 and 4.1.2-1).  Rock was blasted, excavated, and stockpiled within the reservoir footprint where it was either crushed for concrete aggregate or, along with the overburden, used to construct the reservoir dike (Figure 4.1.2-2).  The temporary concrete plant for the construction of the LPGP was located within the reservoir footprint (Figure 4.1-4).

4.1.3        Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant

The RMNPP is located at the western end of the forebay on the face of the Niagara gorge.  The plant is 1,933 feet long, 580 feet wide from the intake face to the draft tube outlet, and 389 feet high from the lowest point of the foundation to the top of the intake deck.  The plant contains 13 turbine-generators, driven by the approximately 300-foot hydraulic head existing between the forebay and the lower Niagara River.  The 13 generating units each consist of a Francis-type turbine rated at 300 feet net head.  .

Lewiston Road, the Robert Moses State Parkway, and a right of way for Consolidated Rail Corporation cross over the RMNPP intake structure at El. 585 feet.  The intake of the RMNPP rests on the forebay floor.  The penstocks, built into the gorge wall, connect to the turbine generators at El. 250 feet.  The tailrace discharges to the river at the base of the gorge wall at El. 208 feet.

Abutment and buttress sections at both ends of the plant form the transition to the natural gorge face.  A visitors overlook complex, the Power Vista, is constructed atop the south buttress.  The north buttress forms the north end of the plant and connects the penstocks to the north gorge wall.  .

To construct the RMNPP, the topsoil and overburden was stripped and stored within the reservoir footprint where it was eventually used in the construction of the reservoir dike and for backfilling of the conduits.  Ten million cubic yards of rock were removed from the gorge wall and placed in the Lewiston Spoil Area, established to the northwest, at the current site of Artpark State Park (Figures 4.1.3-1 and 4.1.3-2).  Access to the Lewiston Spoil Area, which lay at the base of the escarpment, was from construction roads leading from the RMNPP north along the gorge wall (Portions of this road system followed the former New York Central Railroad right-of-way.  To facilitate construction, a temporary concrete plant was constructed on the north end of the RMNPP along the gorge wall.

4.1.4        Lewiston Pump Generating Station and Reservoir

The LPGP is a reinforced-concrete gravity structure founded on rock, situated at the east end of the open forebay and at the west end of the reservoir.  Measuring about 975 feet long, 240 feet wide, and 160 feet high, it contains 12 Francis-type pump-turbine/motor-generator units.  To the north and south of the intake structure, concrete gravity-core wall sections form the connection with the Lewiston Reservoir dike.  The reservoir level ranges between El. 620 and El. 658 feet.  Both core walls are similar in design, with the top of the walls at El. 665 feet, and batters on upstream and downstream faces where contact is made with the reservoir dike core zone.  An inspection gallery runs the full length of both structures at El. 610 feet in the north core wall and at El. 596 feet in the south core wall.  Foundation rock is at El. 605 feet under the north core wall and El. 590 feet under the south core wall.

The reinforced-concrete intake structure is founded on rock benches between El. 540 and El. 550 feet.  Twelve penstocks, one for each unit, convey water from the reservoir to the pump-turbines or from the pump-turbines to the reservoir.  Each penstock, approximately 170 feet long, tapers from 24 feet in diameter at its upper end to 18 feet in diameter at its lower end.  Twin intake portals for each unit, with inverts at El. 570 feet, may be closed by means of steel gates with individual gate hoist equipment located in the gate hoist building on the intake deck at El. 665 feet.  A 3-foot-thick concrete intake apron on the floor of the reservoir slopes up from El. 570 feet near the intake mouth to El. 618 feet at the rim, which is about 100 feet from the intake. 

Immediately downstream of the LPGP, over the forebay, is a bridge complex that supports two lanes of Military Road and four lanes of the Niagara Expressway (I-190).  NYSDOT maintains these highways and bridges.  

The Lewiston Reservoir dike (Figure 4.1.4-1) is a rockfill dike with an impervious core, approximately 34,500 feet (6.5 miles) long.  The dike is 55 feet high and 260 feet wide at its base, with a crest width of 41 feet at El. 665 feet.  The western portion of the core and rock fill rests on bedrock.  The eastern portion is constructed on natural soil over bedrock.  To reduce the permeability of the foundation, the bedrock under the central core was extensively grouted.  The dike was tied at each end to the LPGP by wrapping the impervious core and rockfill of the dike around the north and south concrete core walls, which extend from the ends of the plant.

Fish and Gill Creeks, intercepted by the eastern portion of the dike, were rerouted in earth- and rock-cut channels along the toe of the dike to the north and south of the reservoir, respectively (Figure 4.1-4).

During construction of the LPGP and the reservoir dike, the reservoir footprint was used to stockpile topsoil, overburden, and rock aggregate Figure 4.1-4 and 4.1.2-2), and a temporary concrete plant was installed.  A rock crushing plant was also built at this site to provide aggregate and sand fill for the overall construction project. 

The rock stockpiled within the future reservoir was from both the forebay excavation and the LPGP excavation.  This rock, as previously noted, was used to construct the dikes and to provide material for the rock crushing plant.

4.2         Construction Stockpiles and Spoils Areas

Numerous areas were used either to temporarily stockpile or to permanently place excavated material from Project construction.  Figure 4.0-1 shows these locations.  In general, permanent fill placement occurred along the upper Niagara River shoreline, conduit routes, and in the Lewiston Spoil Area that eventually became Artpark.  Temporary spoil stockpiles were placed along Buffalo Avenue (Figure 4.2-1), just east of conduit construction area Section 1 (see Figure 4.1-2), and within the reservoir footprint (Figures 4.1.2-1 and 4.1.2-2).  Fill sources and destinations are summarized on Table 4.2-1.

4.3         NYPA Funded Non-Project-Related Construction

As part of the NPP funding, numerous public benefit projects were undertaken.  As shown on Figure 4.0-1, original efforts related to the Project included:

Construction Projects

·         construction of an 8.5-mile section of  the Robert Moses Parkway, from the north Grand Island bridges to the Upper Mountain Road interchange in Lewiston

·         enlargement of Goat Island and construction of a new parking lot on the island

·         enhancements to the Niagara Reservation State Park, including a new parking lot construction of a new American Rapids bridge connecting the mainland to Goat Island

·         enlargement of Hyde Park in the City of Niagara Falls, including expansion of a 27-hole golf course to 36 holes and upgrade of infrastructure for  the course, including installation of sprinklers, parking lot, practice green, and clubhouse

Land Donations and Provisions

·         provision of land for development of Reservoir State Park

·         provision of land for the Schoellkopf Geological Museum

·         provision of land for the development of Artpark

·         donation of land and development of DeFranco Park in the City of Niagara Falls

·         donation of land and development of Veterans Park in the Town of Niagara

Of the construction projects listed above, those that involved the most extensive work were the Niagara Reservation State Park and construction of the Robert Moses Parkway.  Goat Island was expanded by approximately 8.5 acres to the east, using fill that was removed from the construction of the water conduits.  This enlarged area is currently used as a 210-space parking lot.  The American Rapids Bridge was constructed on the island’s northeast side.  This bridge provided better traffic flow for tourists on and off the island.  On the mainland portion of the park, a new parking area was constructed, the Robert Moses Parkway was routed along the park shoreline, and the observation tower was built.  These features are shown in Figure 4.3-1.

The Robert Moses Parkway was constructed in three sections:  (1) along the upper river from the north Grand Island bridges to Niagara Reservation State Park; (2) along the lower river (Niagara gorge) from the state park to the Upper Mountain Road interchange; and (3) from the interchange to Old Fort Niagara.  The first two sections were funded as part of Project construction (see Figures 4.0-1, 4.3-1 and 4.3-2).  A large portion of this first section, along the upper river, was constructed on made land, namely, rock spoil generated from conduit excavation and construction.  A materials stockpile area was established west of the north Grand Island bridges to temporarily store fill and grading material for Parkway construction.  This section also includes the upper Niagara River Observation Facility, a park at the water intakes that also has fishing access.

The second section consists of a portion that once extended through the Niagara Reservation State Park (since relocated) and along the gorge wall up to the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge.  In the mid to late 1970s the New State Parks System relocated a section of Robert Moses Parkway around Reservation State Park. 

The section of the parkway from Niagara Reservation State Park to the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge required the construction of several road rails and pedestrian overpasses and the relocation of Whirlpool Street and several houses (as discussed in Section 4.4).

4.4         Facility Relocations

To facilitate construction of the Project and ancillary public benefit projects, relocations of some facilities were undertaken.  Temporary road and rail relocations were required.  These relocated roads and rails were returned to their original alignment once the Project was completed.  Numerous natural and manmade structures, however, were permanently relocated.  These relocations are described below.

4.4.1        Project Construction Relocations

Seven permanent relocations were required to complete the Project.  Four of these seven relocations were required for the construction of the Lewiston Reservoir (Figure 4.1-4).  Fish and Gill Creeks originally flowed through the reservoir footprint.  Fish Creek was relocated to flow around the north side of the reservoir; and Gill Creek was diverted along the east and south sides of the reservoir.  Both creeks reconnect with their original courses after they flow past the reservoir.  Garlow Road, which originally ran along the east side of the reservoir, was relocated slightly to the east to make room for placement of the east dike. The fourth relocation associated with the reservoir was the transmission line that formerly crossed through the reservoir footprint.  This line was relocated north (just north of the reservoir) and east (approximately two miles east of the reservoir), through the Tuscarora Nation.

The fifth permanent relocation was required to construct the water conduits.  Seventy-six houses were relocated from the Echota area at the south end of Section 1 to a new subdivision (Veteran Heights) along Military Road.  Figures 4.1-2, 4.1.1-2 and 4.1.1-3 show the original and current house locations.

The sixth relocation was the transmission line crossing the Niagara River from the Sir Adam Beck Generating Stations in Ontario.  These overhead crossings were originally located within the future location of the RMNPP and forebay.  The lines were moved approximately one half mile to the south.

The seventh relocation involved either moving homes or building new homes for Tuscarora that were impacted by construction of the Lewiston Reservoir.  Twenty-nine households were affected and eventually relocated onto other lands owned by the Tuscarora Nation.

Although not a relocation, the streambed of Gill Creek was reinforced with a concrete base through a 630-foot section that crosses above the conduits.  In addition, the Gill Creek-Witmer Road crossing  was improved with a new arch culvert.  Finally, the Gill Creek discharge into the Niagara River was extended through a concrete culvert to allow for the placement of fill for the Robert Moses Parkway.

4.4.2        Non-Project Construction Relocations

In the construction of the Robert Moses Parkway, the section north of the Rainbow Bridge and south of Ontario Avenue required the relocation of 14 houses from Rapids Boulevard, as well as the relocation of Whirlpool Street (Figures 4.0-1 and 4.4.2-1).  The houses were moved to a newly constructed area called College Terrace subdivision, and Whirlpool Street was moved immediately east of its former location

 

Table 4.2-1

Summary of Fill and Spoil Placement

SOURCE AREA

MATERIAL

FINAL PLACEMENT

Intake

Sediment

Upper Niagara River to create Robert Moses Parkway Right of Way

Rock

Upper Niagara River to create Robert Moses Parkway Right of Way

Water Conduits

Topsoil

Landscaping within Project boundaries

Overburden

Backfilling within Project boundaries

Rock

Upper Niagara River to create Robert Moses Parkway Right of Way

Forebay

Topsoil

Landscaping within Project boundaries

Overburden

Fill within Project boundaries

Rock

1. Concrete aggregate and fill for Project (rock crushing plant)

2. Construction of reservoir dikes

Robert Moses Niagara Generating Plant

Overburden

Artpark (Lewiston Spoil Pile)

Rock

Artpark (Lewiston Spoil Pile)

Lewiston Pump Generating Plant

Topsoil

Landscaping within Project boundaries

Overburden

Fill within Project boundaries

Rock

1. Concrete aggregate and fill for project (rock crushing plant)

2. Construction of reservoir dikes

Ice Escape Channel (downstream of Intakes)

Rock

Buckhorn Island Dikes

Sources: PASNY 1958, PASNY 1959, PASNY 1960, PASNY 1961, PASNY 1963, and NYPA 1965

 

Figure 4.0-1

Construction Features

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.1-1

Niagara Reservation State Park

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.1-2

Conduit Work, Sections 1 and 2, with Veteran Heights Subdivision

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.1-3

Conduit Work Section 3

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.1-4

Lewiston Reservoir and Forebay

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.1.1-1

Echota Area House Relocations, October 16, 1958

 

Figure 4.1.1.2

Veteran Heights Subdivision, November 1, 1958

 

Figure 4.1.1-3

Conduit Construction, Section 1, July 02, 1959

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.1.1-4

Conduit Construction, Section 2, August 24, 1960

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.1.1-5

Cofferdam for Intake Construction, March 10, 1959

 

 

Figure 4.1.1-6

Intake Construction, October 16, 1959

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.1.2-1

Lewiston Reservoir Area Showing Stockpile Storage, October 21, 1959

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.1.2-2

Rock Spoil Area in Lewiston Reservoir Footprint, December 5, 1960

 

 

Figure 4.1.3-1

Lewiston Spoil Area, March 22, 1958

 

 

Figure 4.1.3-2

Lewiston Spoil Area, April 20, 1959

 

 

Figure 4.1.4-1

Lewiston Reservoir Prior to Filling, October 16, 1961

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.2-1

Buffalo Avenue Spoil Area, December 19, 1960

 

 

Figure 4.3-1

Robert Moses Parkway from Niagara Falls to College Terrace

 

Figure 4.3-2

Robert Moses Parkway from College Terrace to Artpark

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 4.4.2-1

College Terrace Relocation Area, June 20, 1959

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

5.0     DESCRIPTION OF AQUATIC AND TERRESTRIAL HABITATS EXISTING PRIOR TO CONSTRUCTION OF THE NIAGARA POWER PROJECT

5.1         Identification of Pre-Project Habitat Conditions

Many information sources were consulted to identify the locations and types of aquatic and terrestrial habitat that existed prior to Project construction.  These sources included published material (books, booklets, articles, historical literature, anthologies, correspondences, government documents, and other records), maps and photographs (bathymetric, topographic, and aerial imagery), and construction drawings.  The identification of habitats was determined largely by reviewing georeferenced aerial photos from 1951 (pre-Project construction) and 1958 (during Project construction).  GIS layers of present-day Project features were overlaid on the aerial photos to determine the locations of habitat where Project construction activities occurred.  Further identification of aquatic habitat was completed by reviewing a U. S. Army Corps of Engineers 1953 navigation chart (1:30,000 scale) (USACE 1953), other aerial photographs, and several videos made from movies taken during Project construction.

5.2         Aquatic Habitat

Project construction activities covered (1) the area around the Buckhorn Island diversion dikes on the north end of Grand Island, (2) the shoreline of the upper Niagara River near the location of the intakes and along the eastern end of Goat Island (Niagara Reservation State Park), (3) the area around the RMNPP in the lower Niagara River, and (4) specific areas of Gill and Fish Creeks where the Lewiston Reservoir was created and where the conduits were placed under a section of Gill Creek (Figure 5.2-1).  The types of aquatic habitat that existed in each of the defined areas are described below.

5.2.1        Buckhorn Island Diversion Dikes on the North End of Buckhorn Island

The aquatic environment in the area of the present-day diversion dikes likely consisted of moderately deep (approximately 10 feet.) water (Figure 5.2.1-1).  Eldredge (1955) conducted a survey of this area for SAV occurrence.  At that time, wild celery (Vallisneria americana) dominated the SAV, with some Potamogeton (presumably Potamogeton gramineus) present.  The SAV bed was located in water from three to five feet deep, and out to a narrow point to about 1,000 feet from shore.  An excavated navigation channel, the 1,500-foot-long “Buckhorn Channel”, lay approximately 500 feet to the west of the northern tip of Buckhorn Island.  The diversion dikes were built on the eastern edge of the Buckhorn Channel.  Several towers in the river supported electrical transmission lines that ran between the north shore of the river in Niagara Falls and the northern tip of Buckhorn Island.

5.2.2        Shoreline of the Upper Niagara River

Project construction in this area entailed placing fill material along a section of the upper Niagara River shoreline from the canals (Figures 5.2.1-1 and 5.2.2-3) for the Schoellkopf Plant eastward to approximately 100 feet from the west side of I-190.  Prior to Project construction, much of this shoreline had been altered by removing vegetation, and numerous industries were established here (Figures 5.2.2-1, 5.2.2-2, 5.2.2-3, and 5.2.2-4).  The 1953 USACE navigation chart (Figure 5.2.1-1) indicates that, just west of the present-day intakes, there were several small areas of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) and three small islands (Conners Island and two unnamed islands).  The chart indicates SAV to the south of Conners Island in water two to four feet deep.  Based on surveys of the upper Niagara River by Eldredge (1955), the SAV species that may have occurred there include wild celery and Potamogeton species.  This area was just to the south of the area where fill was placed to create the present-day shoreline.  A navigation channel, the “Schlosser Channel”, constructed along the mainland side of the Tonawanda Channel, ended at a shipping dock between Conners Island and the northern shore of the upper Niagara River.  The Schlosser Channel was generally 12 feet deep and, because it was excavated, it was most likely devoid of SAV.  A survey by Eldredge (1955) indicated that SAV (primarily Vallisneria americana) was found in the upper river at depths of 1.5 to 5.5 feet in the mainstem, and at depths of less than 1.5 feet in sheltered bays.  Substrates in the area included soft (“mud”), sand, and stony areas (see Figure 5.2.1-1).

For approximately 2,000 feet to the west of Conners Island, the water was generally 3-6 feet deep, and no SAV was noted (Figure 5.2.1-1).  Part of the ice boom for the Schoellkopf Plant went between the bay and the small, submerged island immediately to the east of the bay.  The area between this island and the shoreline was mostly ≤1 foot deep (Figure 5.2.1-1).

To the south and west of the bay, an excavated channel ran from the middle of the river northwest to the Schoellkopf Plant intake canals (Figure 5.2.1-1).  This channel was generally 20 feet deep.

Along the eastern end of Goat Island (Niagara Reservation State Park, at the upstream end of the Cascade Rapids) where fill was placed, the current is strong, and standing waves common.  From the 1951 orthophotos, specifically Figure 5.2.2-4-4, it appears that the water at the eastern end of Goat Island is not cascading rapids as it is on the southern and northern sides, but velocity was likely high.  Water depth was <6 feet to the east of Goat Island (See Figure 5.2.1-1).

5.2.3        Area around RMNPP

The littoral (shallow, near-shore) zone in this area of the lower Niagara River likely existed as a narrow strip and contained large-grained substrate (e.g., large cobble, boulder, and bedrock; Figure 5.2.3-1).  A 1928 survey of SAV in the lower Niagara River indicated that SAV was present downstream of Lewiston reaching from 10-30 feet from shore and extending over an area 30-60 feet wide in water 3-12 feet deep (NYSCD 1929).  The survey did not indicate that SAV was present upstream of Lewiston in the area now occupied by the RMNPP.  If any SAV existed in this area, it would have been limited to a narrow band near the shoreline, as the bottom falls off quickly with distance from shore. 

5.2.4        Gill and Fish Creeks

The courses of Gill and Fish Creeks were altered for the construction of the Lewiston Reservoir (Figure 5.2.4-1).  Construction of the conduits took place along one section of Gill Creek itself and along a small tributary to Gill Creek near the City of Niagara Falls.

In the area where the reservoir was constructed, both creeks appear to have been meandering channels, bordered by a thin strip of riparian vegetation, and surrounded by agricultural lands (Figures 5.2.4-2 and 5.2.4-3).  In one area of Fish Creek, there was no riparian vegetation, and the creek passed directly through individual agricultural fields.  In one area of Gill Creek, the creek appears to have been more of an open meadow than a defined channel.  A small tributary to Gill Creek shows just south of the creek, and in the southern part of the present day Lewiston Reservoir.  This tributary appears to have been a channelized ditch with little riparian vegetation.  Many of the creeks in this area were likely slow moving, with little gradient.  From the existing information, it is not possible to determine the species of aquatic plants that existed in these areas.

Aquatic habitat similar to that described in the previous paragraph existed where the conduits crossed Gill Creek and one of its tributaries (Figure 5.2.4-4).   

5.3         Terrestrial Habitats

Terrestrial areas where construction activities occurred included  (1) the shoreline of the upper Niagara River near the location of the intakes, (2) the area around the RMNPP adjacent to the lower Niagara River, (3) those locations where the forebay, Lewiston Reservoir, maintenance/equipment warehouse, switchyard, and conduits now reside, (4) the Robert Moses Parkway along the Niagara River, (5) parkland in the City of Niagara Falls, and Earl W. Brydges Artpark, (6) Niagara Reservation State Park, (7) Whirlpool/Devils Hole State Parks, (8) and those areas where fill or excavated material was temporarily placed or stored.

5.3.1        Buckhorn Island Diversion Dikes on the North End of Buckhorn Island

Before construction, the terrestrial habitat on Buckhorn Island in the area where the diversion dikes are located consisted of a mixed growth of herbaceous, shrub, and tree species.  There appears to have been a mix of upland and wetland habitats (see Figure 4.1-1).  The areas along the shoreline, especially on the northwest and west end (near the present day site of the dikes) were herbaceous and shrub wetland.  Buckhorn Island was farmed in the past, and much of the upland mixed growth that exists today was formerly agricultural land that has reverted to forest. 

Aerial photos from circa 1931 (Figure 5.3.1-1 and Figure 5.3.1-2) depict shallow, nearshore areas in the vicinity of the dikes site.  Eldredge (1955) noted EAV (bulrush (Scirpus spp.)) along the shores of Buckhorn Island between the point and the north Grand Island bridge (only one bridge existed at that time).  The dikes site, which is on the downstream end of the island, was somewhat sheltered from direct river currents and wave action.  The 1953 chart shows shallow water in this area (a depth of three feet or less) and weed symbols that indicate possible SAV or EAV (Figure 5.2.1-1).  It is likely that some coastal wetland existed in the area where the diversion weirs were constructed.

5.3.2        Shoreline of the Upper Niagara River

Prior to Project construction the shoreline of the upper Niagara River was a heavily developed industrial area (Figure 5.2.2-1).  Development activities and shoreline alterations included building construction, bulkheads, piers, fill and dredged areas, and various industrial materials stockpiles.  This development and alteration encompassed the entire shoreline and adjacent lands.  Because of these conditions, the shoreline had little if any riparian vegetation and lacked significant growth of EAV.  Project construction in this area comprised the water intakes, gates, and conduits, and placing of fill material along a section of the upper Niagara shoreline from the former Schoellkopf Plant canals eastward to approximately 100 feet from the west side of the north Grand Island bridges.

The 1953 chart (Figure 5.2.1-1) indicates that there were three small islands in this area (Conners Island and two unnamed islands).  According to the 1951 and 1958 aerial photographs (Figures 5.2.2-1 and 5.2.2-2), these islands appear to be submerged; and it is therefore likely that they were not true islands, but shallow areas with EAV.  For approximately 2,000 feet to the west of Conners Island, the water was generally 3-6 feet deep, and there is no indication from existing information that EAV existed in this area (Figure 5.2.1-1).  Further west, there existed a small bay near the Niagara Falls Power Company that was sheltered on the west and south sides by a manmade rock and earthen structure (Figures 5.2.1-1, 5.2.2-1 and 5.2.2-2).  This bay appears to have been shallow and contained at least some EAV. 

A section of the Robert Moses Parkway was constructed along the upper Niagara River.  Parkway construction activities in this area occurred from the north Grand Island bridge site north to the site of the former Schoellkopf canal intake (near 8th street in the City of Niagara Falls) (Figure 5.3.1-2).  This segment of road was constructed on fill that had been placed in the Niagara River.  Most of this fill was spoil material from the conduit construction excavation.  According to existing information, all shoreline and adjacent land in this area had been disturbed by human activities or was being used for industrial or commercial purposes.  Based on this information, any riparian vegetation was likely composed of early-successional pioneer species.

Enhancements were made to the Niagara Reservation State Park.  These included non-Project related construction at Goat, Three Sisters, and Luna Island (Figure 5.3.2-1).  Work encompassed construction of a new American Rapids bridge (connecting the U.S. mainland to Goat Island), enlargement (by dumping fill in the river) of Goat Island, and construction of a parking lot on the filled area.  Prior to Project construction, the islands were mostly developed parkland with mowed grass, roads, and woodland areas.

Although it is likely that wetlands were historically found along the shoreline of the upper Niagara River, due to the developed nature of the shoreline prior to development of the Project, no wetland area existed along the shoreline at the time the Project was constructed.

5.3.3        Conduits

The conduits, from the intakes to the forebay, cross land that was thoroughly developed prior to Project construction (Figure 4.1-2).  The conduit corridor extends from the Niagara River east of the former Schoellkopf Canal intake and runs more or less perpendicularly from the river through the City of Niagara Falls, the Town of Niagara, and into the Town of Lewiston, where it ends.  Development along this corridor included an industrial area next to the river, and residential housing, rail yards, and active and fallow agriculture lands further inland and to the north.  Conduit construction required relocation of 76 homes and construction of temporary bridges associated with rerouting various roads and railroad lines (Spieler and Hewitt 1960).

The conduit right-of-way passes through Hyde Park in the City of Niagara Falls.  As part of a public improvement program, the Power Authority funded construction of park improvements and expansions in the City of Niagara Falls.  This included the enlargement of Hyde Park in the City of Niagara Falls by expansion of a 27-hole golf course to 36 holes; and upgrade of the rest of the course, including installation of sprinklers, parking lot, practice green, and clubhouse on Power Authority land that was close to the conduits.  Authority-owned land on which park expansion occurred was later conveyed to the city (Spieler and Hewitt 1960). 

5.3.4        Forebay and Lewiston Reservoir

The forebay area, which also includes a switchyard and maintenance/equipment warehouse, appears to have been a golf course and agricultural land prior to project construction (Figure 5.2.4-1).  The Lewiston Reservoir area was primarily agricultural fields with a few patches of undeveloped woodland (Figure 5.2.4-1).  Within the reservoir construction area were several roads, residential properties, and two streams (Gill and Fish Creeks).  Approximately 500 acres of this area was Tuscarora Land.  As the figure depicts, several large farms were located in the northern portion of the Reservoir along what was then Moyer Road.  A number of apple and peach orchards, grape vineyards, and productive agricultural fields, which could not be relocated, were lost during construction.  The streams, from Garlow Road west, meandered through active agricultural land.  A narrow, vegetated riparian zone, bordered by agricultural fields, ran along both streams.  Most of the land adjacent to the streams was actively farmed close to the stream banks.  Gill Creek passed through a golf course.  Except for one segment, which seems to have been devoid of vegetation, it was generally bordered by an approximately 25 foot band of riparian vegetation on each side.  There was a small tributary to Gill Creek which was located in the area encompassed by the present day Lewiston Reservoir.  This creek was located just the south side of Gill Creek and the golf course in the City of Niagara  Falls.  Most of the riparian vegetation along this tributary was sparse in the area where Project construction took place.

5.3.5        Area around RMNPP

The portion of the RMNPP site that is upslope of the gorge rim had once been the location of a railroad line (New York Central) and a quarry.  A segment of the former Great Gorge railroad bed existed in the gorge (below the gorge rim) and the adjacent slopes and riparian zone were covered with trees (Figure 5.2.3-1).  The permanent access road to the power plant tailrace site was cut out of the gorge wall.  The Power Vista, parking lot, and buildings along Power Vista Drive are also associated with construction of the RMNPP.  A golf course and a portion of the Niagara University campus existed in this area before construction of the Project.   There was a chemical plant (Stauffer Chemical) located north of the forebay area, the majority of which was outside of Project Boundary.  The plant was accessed from the west by road and railway, both of which, along with a Stauffer Chemical disposal area, were partially located within Project Boundary.

5.3.6        Shoreline of the Lower Niagara River

The shoreline areas of interest consist of the site of the present-day RMNPP and associated access road, and additional shore access created for Whirlpool/Devils Hole State Park and Artpark (Figures 4.1.3-1 and 5.2.3-1).  There were the remains of a railroad bed (former Great Gorge Railroad) and several footpaths in the gorge prior to Project construction.  The immediate shoreline along the lower Niagara River was undeveloped, wooded riparian zone.  Because of the topography, no large wetlands existed in this area.

Prior to Project construction, the Artpark area was used for commercial/industrial activities.  As early as 1820, a quarry existed at the site.  This later became a landfill for municipal and industrial wastes.  The site was also the location of a wine-making operation, a chemical waste dump (adjacent west of the Spoil Pile Area) a railroad and boat terminal, and an international bridge (NYSOPR 1974).  Just prior to Project construction, several roads and disturbed, bare soils and sparse vegetation existed in the area.    Several small wooded areas occurred, on the southern and northern portions of the property (NYSOPR 1974).

 

Figure 5.2-1

Investigation Area

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 5.2.1-1

Detail of U. S. Army Corps of Engineers 1953 Navigation Chart

 

Figure 5.2.2-1

U.S. Shoreline of the Upper Niagara River from Present-Day Intakes Downstream to Niagara Falls, Photo A, 1951

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 5.2.2-2

U.S. Shoreline of the Upper Niagara River from Present-Day Intakes Downstream to Niagara Falls, Photo B, 1951

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 5.2.2-3

U.S. Shoreline of the Upper Niagara River from Present-Day Intakes Downstream to Niagara Falls, Photo C, 1951

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 5.2.2-4

U.S. Shoreline of the Upper Niagara River from Present-Day Intakes Downstream to Niagara Falls, Photo D, 1951

 

 

Figure 5.2.2-5 – Figure 5.2.2-8

1958 Orthophotos of Area around Diversion Weirs and the Shoreline of the Upper Nigara River

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 5.2.3-1

Area around Present-Day Robert Moses Power Plant, 1951

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 5.2.4-1

Area around Gill and Fish Creeks, 1951

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 5.2.4-2

Area around Gill Creek, 1951

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 5.2.4-3

Area around Fish Creek, 1951

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 5.2.4-4

Area around Gill Creek near Present-Day Conduits, 1951

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 5.3.1-1

Northern Buckhorn Island and Diversion Weir Area, 1931

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 5.3.1-2

Upper River Shoreline, I-190/North Grand Island Bridge to the Schoellkopf Canal Intake, 1931

[NIP – General Location Maps]

 

Figure 5.3.2-1

Goat Island, Luna Island, and Three Sisters Area

 

6.0     RIVER AND GROUNDWATER HYDRAULICS

Prior to construction of the Project, river flow was affected by seasonal changes as well as by water removal from the operation of the Sir Adam Beck Generating Station in Ontario, Canada, and the Schoellkopf Power Plant in Niagara Falls, New York.  On the American side of the river, the Project was constructed to replace the Schoellkopf Power Plant and to use the United States’ entire river water allotment provided for in the 1950 Treaty.  On the Canadian side, a second power plant, the Sir Adam Beck 2 Generating Station, was completed in 1958.  In addition to affecting water levels in the river, the Schoellkopf Power Plant likely affected groundwater flow and levels, although no documentation as to the extent of this change has been found.  Changes in surface water and groundwater hydraulics since the construction of the Project will be addressed in this section.

6.1         River Hydraulics

6.1.1        Pre-1950 Water Levels

The 1950 Treaty required the IJC to perform an investigation of Niagara Falls and the Niagara River and to submit a report on recommended remedial works, including preliminary designs and cost estimates.  The IJC issued its report in 1953. 

The 1953 IJC report (IJC 1953) discusses engineering-based assessments of water surface elevations at various locations along the Niagara River for a condition without remedial works.  These assessments were based on physical models of the Niagara River for the 26-mile reach from Lake Erie to the gorge below Niagara Falls.  The report found conclusively that remedial works were necessary to prevent impairment of the scenic beauty of Niagara Falls and river when the diversion of water for power generation was made. 

The 1953 IJC report provides a study of pre-1950 power diversions for the Canadian and United States side of the river.  The 1909 treaty had limited power diversions to a maximum of 36,000 cfs by Canada and 20,000 cfs by the United States.  The unequal amounts of water allowed to be diverted by Canada and the United States was in consideration of the United States’ water diversion through the Chicago drainage canal from Lake Michigan and the Canadian export of power to New York.  During World War II, temporary additional diversions were authorized allowing diversions up to 56,500 cfs by Canada and 32,500 cfs by the United States.  The 1953 report provides estimated water surface elevations, based on the physical model, for the Niagara River under several river flow and power diversion combinations without remedial works (namely, the International Niagara Control Structure).  Using this information, selected data have been analyzed to ascertain the pre-1950 water levels in the Niagara River for the average Niagara River flow condition.  These data, presented in the following sections, reflect the simplified hydraulics of river flow and power diversion without the real-world effects of storm surges, and wind- and boat-generated waves.

The average annual Niagara River discharge is 212,300 cfs.  The 1953 IJC report gives calculated water surface elevations in the Niagara River for river flows of approximately 200,000 cfs and 240,000 cfs, and power diversions of zero to 149,000 cfs.  Using those numbers, estimates of the water surface elevations at selected Niagara River locations prior to the construction of remedial works were determined (see Table 6.1-1). 

6.1.2        Current Niagara River Water Levels

In 2003, the New York Power Authority conducted a study of Niagara River water levels and flow fluctuations (URS et al. 2005a).  The investigation area for this study covered the entire Niagara River from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario.  Data on historical water surface levels were gathered at 15 permanent water level gauges and three flow gauges in the upper and lower Niagara River (in both the U.S. and Canada) for 1991-2002.  As part of this investigation, data were examined in light of the historical data to produce a picture of water level fluctuations from all causes, and to establish the upstream extent of daily fluctuation in the upper river.  As described in URS et al. 2005a, fluctuation in the river has several causes apart from U.S./Canadian power generation.  These include storm surges, wind- and boat-generated waves, and treaty flows.   

Average annual river flows during this period 1991-2002 ranged from 186,000 cfs in 2001 to 243,000 cfs in 1997.  On the basis of a comparison of the flow duration curve for the period of record (1991-2002) with yearly flow duration curves and a comparison of yearly median and average daily flows, 1995 was selected as a typical year (URS et al. 2005a).  1995 data from Material Dock, Black Creek, Tonawanda Island, and Huntley gauges are given on Table 6.1-2.

6.1.3         Comparison of Pre-1950 and Current Water Surface Elevations

The comparison of pre-1950 and current (i.e., 1991-2002) water level data is difficult because the circumstances under which the data were developed are dissimilar.  Pre-1950 water levels were determined from physical models of the Niagara River in an era that did not have the international treaty agreements relative to flows and physical works that are currently in place.  Construction of the International Niagara Control Structure, described in Sections 2.1 and 2.2, has also mitigated the effects of flow diversions on water levels in the upper Niagara River. 

The pre-1950 physical models looked at steady-state flow conditions (i.e., no change in flow with time), but did not take into account natural phenomena, such as storm surges and wind induced waves that impose change on water levels in the Niagara River.  Diversion of water for power production was, on the other hand, taken into account by the pre-1950 models, although such diversions were considered steady-state, unlike past or present diversions, which can change on a minute-to-minute basis.

Within these limitations, an attempt was made to compare pre-1950 and current water surface elevations for typical events in the Niagara River.  Pre-1950 (i.e. World War II-era) diversion flows ranged from 56,000 to 89,000 cfs.  Since the diversion flow of zero created by the model is unrealistic, in interpreting Table 6.1-3, emphasis should be placed on water levels resulting from diversions of 50,000 cfs and 100,000 cfs.  (Diversions for current power generation [i.e., 1991-2002] are on the order of 100,000 cfs during tourist hours and 150,000 cfs during non-tourist hours.)

Water surface elevations for the pre-1950 period are presented for the average annual Niagara River flow of 212,300 cfs (Table 6.1-3).  Water surface elevations for current conditions are presented as the typical year 1995 when the average annual flow was 212,700 cfs.  As Table 6.1-3 shows, and bearing in mind the lack of compatibility between the data sets, current water levels for a diversion flow of approximately 100,000 cfs are slightly higher than pre-1950 water levels.  They are 0.85 feet higher, for example, at Material Dock, the reference point for the 1993 directive (Section 2.2), but diminish with distance upstream.

6.2         Groundwater Hydraulics

Information on pre-construction (i.e., before 1958) groundwater data in the vicinity of the Project is limited.  One source, however (Johnston 1964), provides inferred information on pre-construction groundwater flow direction, and some information with respect to water level changes that occurred as a result of reservoir filling.  However, groundwater hydraulics at this site are relatively complex.  Several different water-bearing zones occur at various depths within the bedrock beneath the Project.  The information contained in Johnston 1964 relates primarily to the upper bedrock water-bearing zones.  The following sections list a summary of changes that have occurred in the aquifer since Project construction. The information is derived from Johnston 1964 and from groundwater studies currently being conducted by NYPA (URS et al. 2005b)

·         Pre-construction groundwater flow inferred by Johnston 1964 generally moved along a southeast to west curvilinear path that ultimately discharged to the Niagara gorge.  Following construction, the external drains along the outside of the water conduits received groundwater infiltration.  These drains were designed to relieve hydrostatic pressure along the conduits and ultimately to discharge, by gravity, into the conduits.  The presence of these drains has altered flow directions within a zone approximately one-half mile wide on either side of the conduits.  Groundwater flow in this zone now moves toward the conduits rather than toward the Niagara gorge.  Additionally, the drains also allow some groundwater to flow into the Falls Street Tunnel, a storm sewer that discharges into the Niagara River downstream of the Falls (URS et al. 2005b).

·          As a result of groundwater infiltrating the external conduit drains, groundwater levels in the vicinity of the conduits have been lowered.  In general, levels very near the conduits have been lowered by tens of feet whereas influences farther away from the conduits are much less.

·         As a result of filling the Lewiston Reservoir, groundwater levels near the reservoir dike have generally increased.  The rise in groundwater level near the dike was generally less than ten feet.  The increase in water levels diminishes farther away from the reservoir.

 

 Table 6.1-1

Estimated Niagara River Water Surface Elevations Prior to Construction of Remedial Works

 

Water Surface Elevations with 0 cfs Total Water Diversion for Power

Niagara River Flow (cfs)

Water Surface Elevations (USLSD 1935) at:

Material Dock

Black Creek

Tonawanda Island

Huntley Station

197,000

564.0

565.9

566.1

566.6

212,300*

564.4**

566.4**

566.6**

567.2**

236,000

565.1

567.2

567.3

568.0

*     Average Annual Niagara River Flow

**    Interpolated Value

 

Water Surface Elevations with 50,000 cfs Total Water Diversion for Power (Canadian and US)

Niagara River Flow (cfs)

Water Surface Elevations (USLSD 1935) at:

Material Dock

Black Creek

Tonawanda Island

Huntley Station

197,500

563.0

565.4

565.7

566.1

212,300*

563.5**

565.9**

566.2**

566.7**

237,000

564.2

566.8

567.0

567.6

*     Average Annual Niagara River Flow

**    Interpolated Value

 

Water Surface Elevations with 100,000 cfs Total Water Diversion for Power (Canadian and US)

Niagara River Flow (cfs)

Water Surface Elevations (USLSD 1935) at:

Material Dock

Black Creek

Tonawanda Island

Huntley Station

200,500

561.5

564.9

565.3

565.8

212,300*

561.9**

565.3**

565.6**

566.2**

239,000

562.7

566.1

566.4

567.1

*     Average Annual Niagara River Flow

**    Interpolated Value

Source: IJC 1953

 

Table 6.1-2

Annual Average Niagara River Water Surface Elevations for the Typical Year 1995

Niagara River Flow (cfs)

Average Water Surface Elevation (USLSD 1935) at:

Material Dock

Black Creek

Tonawanda Island

Huntley Station

212,700

562.69

565.32

565.71

566.36

Source: URS et al. 2005a

 

Table 6.1-3

Comparison of Pre-1950 and Current Water Surface Elevations in the Niagara River

Pre-1950 Conditions

Water Surface Elevation for a Niagara River Flow of 212,300 cfs (Average Annual Flow)

PRIOR TO Construction of Remedial Works (International Control Structure)

 

Total Power Diversion Flow -Canadian and US (cfs)

Water Surface Elevations (USLSD 1935) at:

Material Dock

Black Creek

Tonawanda Island

Huntley Station

0

564.4

566.4

566.6

567.2

50,000

563.5

565.9

566.2

566.7

100,000

561.9

565.3

565.6

566.2

 

CURRENT CONDITIONS

Typical Year (1995) Water Surface Elevation

AFTER Construction of Remedial Works (International Control Structure)

 

Total Power Diversion Flow -Canadian and US (cfs)

Water Surface Elevations (USLSD 1935) at:

Material Dock

Black Creek

Tonawanda Island

Huntley Station

Varying Power Diversion Flow

(100k - 150k cfs, typ)

562.69

565.32

565.71

566.36

 

ILLUSTRATIVE CHANGE IN WATER SURFACE ELEVATION

From Pre-1950 to Current Levels for Typical Year (1995)

 

Total Pre-1950 Power Diversion Flow - Canadian and US (cfs)

Estimated Water Surface Elevation Change from Pre-1950 Level:

Material Dock

Black Creek

Tonawanda Island

Huntley Station

0

1.71 feet lower

1.08 feet lower

0.89 feet lower

0.84 feet lower

50,000

0.81 feet lower

0.58 feet lower

0.49 feet lower

0.34 feet lower

100,000

0.79 feet higher

0.02 feet higher

0.11 feet higher

0.16 feet higher

 

REFERENCES

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R76 \ Text Reference: Johnston 1964 \ Johnston, Richard H.  1964.  Groundwater in the Niagara Falls Area, New York, with Emphasis on the Water-Bearing Characteristics of the Bedrock.  Bulletin No. GW-53.  Albany, NY: State of New York Conservation Dept., Water Resources Commission.

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