The “bubble” is a phenomenon caused by dam releases. When a river is dammed, the river moves at a reduced pace or stops completely.  Water accumulates in a lake or reservoir before a dam. As water levels increase, dam owners schedule releases to drain excess water from the lake or reservoir. The water released surges along the river, creating an influx in stage, or depth, of the river water. This brief surge in water along a dammed river is referred to as the “bubble”.

Many of the whitewater rivers including the Hudson and the Moose River are dammed at specific locations. Whitewater rafting companies of the Adirondacks pay dam owners to coordinate dam releases with their rafting schedule. This allows whitewater recreationalists to enjoy high water levels and a longer paddling season while traveling along the river. One example of “bubble” releases occurs just past Indian Lake. Since the early 1900’s, Indian Lake began holding and releasing dams to create a “bubble” and raise water levels daily (Verner et. al. 2015).

Now, whitewater recreational companies work with the town of Indian Lake to release the “bubble” at an optimal time to benefit whitewater recreation.The New York legislative body maintains the policy that these dam releases as essential to maintain the environment. In 1986, the government passed the Electric Consumer Protection Act that requires dam companies to have scheduled whitewater releases (Lessels). These releases supposedly protect the environment by providing an influx of water that mirrors how precipitation and snowmelt add water to the river. However, dam releases and the “bubble” they create remain a source of an environmental debate because of the damage it causes on the Adirondack ecosystem.



Lessels, Bruce. Classic Northeastern Whitewater Guide. Boston, MA: Appalachian Mountain Club, 1998. Print.

Verner, Abbie, Frank E. Wicks, and Lorie Wies. An Adirondack Chronology. Comp. Carl George and Richard E. Tucker. Syhenectady: Kelly Adirondack Center: Union College, 2015. Union College, 10 Feb. 2015. Web. 6 Mar. 2015. <>.