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DRBC's 50th Anniversary

DRBC's 50th Anniversary Logo

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) was created on October 27, 1961, when concurrent compact legislation ratified by Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Congress became law. This was a breakthrough in water resources management since it was the first time that the federal government and a group of states joined together to create a regional body with the force of law to oversee a unified approach to managing a river system without regard to political boundaries.

A ceremonial signing of the Compact was hosted by President John F. Kennedy at the White House on November 2, 1961.

The New York Times reported the following in its November 3, 1961 article covering the event:

A statement issued by the White House press office and ascribed to the President called the signing "a significant event."

"Its significance lies in the unique character of the compact and the great hope for comprehensive plans for full and effective development of the Delaware River Valley," it said.

The statement noted that the new commission established under the compact would have jurisdiction over control and development of adequate water supplies, pollution control, flood protection, watershed management, recreation, hydro-electric power and the regulation of withdrawals and the diversion of Delaware River water.

President Kennedy designated Stewart L. Udall, Secretary of the Interior, as Federal representative on the commission.

"I know he will work with and have the counsel and cooperation of the many departments and agencies of the Federal Government concerned with water and resource development," the statement said.

The statement said that the Government was "glad to join with Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania in this bold venture."

The commission's assignment, it added, "will not be easy to achieve, but we are confident that the cooperation that has brought forth this compact will endure, and that working together real progress can be made for the people of the basin."


Remarks by President Kennedy at the Signing of the Delaware River Basin Compact (link to the American Presidency Project)

N.Y. Times Headline
  Photo of ceremonial signing of the compact at the White House.

(seated left to right) Governors Robert Meyner of New Jersey, Elbert Carvel of Delaware, and David Lawrence of Pennsylvania joined President John F. Kennedy at the White House on November 2, 1961, to participate in a ceremonial signing of the compact.

  Another photo of ceremonial signing of the compact at the White House.
  Photo of Compact Signing Guests in the White House State Dining Room.

President Kennedy Hosted His Compact Signing Ceremony Guests in the White House State Dining Room.

DRBC Historic Photo Gallery

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Thanks to Jerry Kauffman, Director, Water Resources Agency, Institute for Public Administration, University of Delaware, for sharing The New York Times article.

DRBC Celebrates Turning 50

In part to honor the Commission's 50th Anniversary, DRBC and other partners held the Delaware River Celebration on October 19, 2011. Click here for more details, including an event photo gallery.

DRBC's 2011 Annual Report (pdf 4 MB) includes sections that highlight its first 50 years: an article describing the Commission's "unique partnership" and an accomplishments/milestones timeline.

If interested in other DRBC Photo Galleries, please click here.

Please note: If you would like to use a photo from one of these galleries, send us an email with your request, noting the image(s) you are interested in. Thank you.