By Dan Hust
GLEN SPEY The final piece of the Swinging Bridge Reservoir’s reopening is now in place.
And it doesn’t even have to do with the reservoir itself.
Following an approval letter from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), reservoir owner Alliance Energy Renewables has reopened access to the Rio and Mongaup Falls recreational areas.
A sinkhole discovered three years ago in Swinging Bridge’s dam forced the drawdown of water at the reservoir while inspections and repairs took place.
The reservoir itself reopened to boaters last year, but FERC and engineers needed to be absolutely sure the dam repairs were sufficient.
That meant that until Swinging Bridge could be refilled to normal levels, the recreational areas farther down the Mongaup River would remain closed.
By December of last year, Swinging Bridge was full again, and by March of this year, Alliance and FERC were both confident the dam would hold.
Thanks to a just-updated Web site (www.allianceenergy.us), Alliance has announced that the Mongaup Falls and Rio recreation areas are once again open to the public.
At the Mongaup Falls Reservoir off County Route 43 near Forestburgh, non-motorized boats are permitted.
At the Rio Reservoir off Rio Dam Road near Glen Spey, non-motorized boats are also permitted.
Downstream, Alliance maintains a whitewater rafting access point off Crane’s Spring Road near Glen Spey.
Whitewater rafting is only permitted at certain times during scheduled water releases from the Rio Dam, currently set for Saturday, April 19 and Sunday, May 4 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and continuing about every two weeks thereafter.
The full schedule is available at allianceenergy.us but needs to be confirmed via phone by calling 866-624-9004 no earlier than the Wednesday prior.
Alliance cautions that the recreation areas are also bald eagle habitats and are not served by lifeguards. There is limited to no cell phone service, as well, so care must be taken.
There are two areas still closed to the public. Cliff Lake is considered a sensitive bald eagle habitat, while the eastern dam access to Toronto Reservoir remains in dispute. A court ruling may clarify that issue later this month, though the legal battle may continue for some time.