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Editor's Notebook

Delaware River Flows Extended

by Ross Purnell, Editor   |  June 28th, 2012 0

Fishing was excellent on the upper Delaware River in 2011 with cold water, heavy hatches, and a summer of gorging trout. By most accounts, 2011 was the best year on the river in a decade.

The good times will likely continue through 2012 as New York State, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and the City of New York have unanimously agreed to a one-year extension of the current Flexible Flow Management Program (FFMP) that most people credit for last year’s outstanding fishing.

According to a press release from the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) the a reed-upon flow regime will “meet water supply demands, protect fisheries habitat downstream of the New York City (NYC)-Delaware Basin reservoirs, enhance flood mitigation, and repel the upstream movement of salt water in the Delaware Estuary.”

Diversions and releases of water from the three city reservoirs (Cannonsville, Pepacton, and Neversink) are jointly managed by the four states and NYC under the terms of a 1954 U.S. Supreme Court Decree that settled an interstate water dispute between New York State and New York City, and the lower basin states.

The Decree Parties (four basin states and NYC) will use the additional time to further evaluate this interim reservoir management plan and use the experience to help guide ongoing negotiations to develop future multi-year agreements.

NYC will continue to create a higher potential to achieve a 10 percent storage void in the reservoirs from September 1 to March 15 as well as an average five percent void from July 1 to September 1 and from March 15 to May 1. It is hoped this program will help mitigate river flooding during periods of high inflows and heavy snow melt. Snow pack during the most recent winter was well below normal.

In addition, reservoir releases will continue to be adjusted to assist in repelling the upstream migration of salty water from the Atlantic Ocean that moves up the tidal Delaware River during low-flow conditions. As salt-laced water moves upriver, the City of Philadelphia and other public water suppliers can be affected, along with industrial surface water users and ecosystems.

The renewed FFMP maintains New Jersey’s increased maximum diversion from the Delaware River Basin via the Delaware & Raritan Canal to a daily running average of 85 million gallons per day when the basin is in a drought emergency.

Additional details are on the web site of the Office of the Delaware River Master, which administers the provisions of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court Decree, at http://water.usgs.gov/osw/odrm/.

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