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About DRBC
An Introduction to the DRBC
White House ceremonial signing of the Delaware River Basin Compact, Nov. 2, 1961. 
White House ceremonial signing of the Delaware River
Basin Compact, Nov. 2, 1961. 

Managing, Protecting & Improving the Basin's Water Resources Since 1961

A breakthrough in water resources management occurred in 1961 when President Kennedy and the governors of Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York for the first time signed concurrent compact legislation into law creating a regional body - the Delaware River Basin Commission - with the force of law to oversee a unified approach to managing a river system without regard to political boundaries.

Prior to its creation, some 43 state agencies, 14 interstate agencies and 19 federal agencies exercised a multiplicity of splintered powers and duties within the Basin. This new legislation, the Delaware River Basin Compact, went into effect on October 27, 1961. It marked the first time since the nation's birth that the federal government and a group of states joined together as equal partners in a river basin planning, development and regulatory agency. The Compact is federal law and law in each basin state.

     • Delaware River Basin Compact (pdf)

At the November 2, 1961, ceremonial signing of the Compact in the White House, President Kennedy remarked:

"Today’s formal signing of the Delaware River Basin Compact is a significant event….We are glad to join with Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania in this bold venture. The task set for the Commission 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."

Who is the DRBC?

The signatory members of this regional body include the four basin state governors and the Division Engineer, North Atlantic Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who serves as the federal representative. Annual elections are held for Commission chair, vice chair and second vice chair, based on a rotation of the five signatory parties. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is currently serving as chair for the July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023 term. The other Commission members are New Jersey Governor Philip D. Murphy (vice chair), New York Governor Kathy Hochul (second vice chair), Delaware Governor John Carney and Federal Representative Colonel John P. Lloyd.

The five members appoint alternate Commissioners, with the governors selecting high-ranking officials from their state environmental agencies. Each Commissioner has one vote of equal power, with a majority vote needed to decide most issues. Exceptions are votes to apportion among the signatory parties amounts required to support the current expense budget and votes to declare a state of emergency resulting from a drought or catastrophe, which require unanimity.

The DRBC has its own Executive Director and a staff of about 35 people, including scientists, engineers and planners.

 

The fact that five separate governmental bodies with their own sovereign powers can successfully work together on an equal footing in managing a common resource has caught the eye of other river managers not only in this country, but around the world. Commission representatives have been invited to Australia, Slovakia and Bulgaria to tell the DRBC story and offer assistance. Officials from those countries also visited the commission's offices in West Trenton, N.J., as have delegations from South Korea, the People's Republic of China, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Jordan, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey, Uganda, Uruguay, India and Japan, among others.

DRBC Programs

Commission programs include water quality protection; water supply allocation, water conservation initiatives and watershed planning; regulatory review (permitting); flow and drought management; flood loss reduction; and recreation.

DRBC Funding

The DRBC is funded by the signatory parties, project review fees, water use charges and fines, as well as federal, state and private grants.

DRBC Meetings

The Commission holds business meetings and hearings on policy matters and water resource projects under regulatory review. These sessions, along with meetings of the Commission's various advisory committees, are open to the public. All DRBC decisions are made at duly-noticed public meetings.

Learn more about the DRBC

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