DRBC's 50th Anniversary (1961-2011)
DRBC 50th Anniversary Logo 
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.

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.

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 Delaware River Basin 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:

NYT Article Nov. 3, 1961

♦  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."

From the American Presidency Project:

Remarks by President Kennedy at the Signing of the Delaware River Basin Compact

DRBC Historic Photo Gallery

If you would like to use a photo from this gallery, please send us an email with your request, noting the image(s) you are interested in. Thank you.

DRBC Celebrates Turning 50

Partner Logos

To honor the Commission's 50th Anniversary, as well as the Delaware River being named PA's 2011 River of the Year, DRBC and other partners held the Delaware River Celebration on October 19, 2011.

The celebration, which included an afternoon forum and evening dinner, took place at The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort, Shawnee on Delaware, Pa., which is surrounded by stunning views of the Delaware River and Pocono Mountains, located within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. 2011 also marked Shawnee's 100th anniversary milestone.

View the Delaware River Celebration Photo Gallery


Presentations from the Delaware River Celebration Forum

Session 1: River Basin Commissions - Why Do We Need Them?

Alexandria Dapolito Dunn, Esq. (pdf 2 MB)
Robert H. ("Bo") Abrams, Esq. (pdf 1 MB)

Session 2: Rollin' on the River - Recreation: A Winner for the Delaware, Local Economies, and You

Gerald Kauffman (pdf 2.4 MB)
John J. Donahue (pdf 2.5 MB)
Celeste Tracy (pdf 2.5 MB)


DRBC's 50th was also featured in DRBC's 2011 Annual Report (pdf 4 MB).