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DRBC To Hold Public Hearing On Interim Spill Mitigation Measures For The New York City Delaware Basin Reservoirs And Development Of A Comprehensive Basin-Wide Flood Mitigation Plan

For Immediate Release

September 15, 2006

(WEST TRENTON, N.J.)  -- The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) will hold a public hearing during its regularly scheduled business meeting on September 27, 2006, at 1:30 p.m. to consider interim spill mitigation measures to be implemented at New York City’s three Delaware Basin reservoirs while work continues on the development of a new multi-objective long-term management plan for those reservoirs. The meeting and hearing will be held at the DRBC’s headquarters building, 25 State Police Drive, in West Trenton, N.J. Directions are available on the commission’s web site.

The interim measures under consideration are intended to reduce the likelihood that the three reservoirs – Cannonsville, Pepacton and Neversink – could be full and spilling coincident with a major storm or thaw. The New York City reservoirs provide substantial attenuation of peak flows downstream even when full. Spill mitigation could add a small measure of seasonal peak flow reduction, particularly in the tailwaters below the dams; however, this effect would diminish with distance from the reservoirs as the river receives runoff from drainage areas downstream. A reservoir spill mitigation program would not stop flooding, either in the tailwaters or the main stem. A comprehensive set of local and regional measures is needed to reduce flood vulnerability and loss.

At its September 27th business meeting, the commission also will consider development of a comprehensive basin-wide flood mitigation plan. In addition to addressing reservoir operations at more than a dozen existing reservoirs throughout the basin, such a plan would address stormwater management, open space and farmland preservation, floodplain regulations, and other potential non-structural flood mitigation measures. If approved, the interim spill mitigation measures contemplated for the basin’s New York City reservoirs would move forward simultaneously with development of the more comprehensive flood mitigation plan. The commission is currently assembling needed funds for the latter effort.

Although the DRBC has broad authority to manage the basin’s water resources for multiple purposes, the commission must obtain the unanimous consent of the five parties to the 1954 judicial decree by the U.S. Supreme Court in order to take any action that would impair, diminish, or otherwise adversely affect the diversions, compensating releases, rights, conditions, and obligations established by the decree. The decree parties include the states of Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania (which also are DRBC members) and New York City (which is not a DRBC member).

In addition to the constraints imposed by the decree on any DRBC action affecting the New York City Delaware Basin reservoirs, the commission must consider potential impacts on its other resource management objectives in evaluating interim and long-term reservoir operating plans. These objectives include the protection of vital water supplies and aquatic ecosystems that today rely on the availability of stored water.

In light of the main stem floods of September 2004, April 2005, and June 2006, which followed a period of nearly 50 years without any widespread main stem flooding, the DRBC is making every effort to obtain additional resources to accelerate development of a basin-wide comprehensive flood mitigation plan.

Persons planning to offer testimony during the public hearing are asked to contact Paula Schmitt by email at paula.schmitt@drbc.state.nj.us or by telephone at (609) 883-9500 ext. 224. The DRBC will accept written testimony until the close of the September 27th hearing, but requests that written comments be submitted no later than noon on September 22, 2006, to give the commissioners an opportunity to review them in advance. Comments may be submitted to Ms. Schmitt by email or by fax to (609) 883-9522. All comments should include the commenter’s name and address. Emailed comments should state “Hearing Comments” in the subject line.

The DRBC was formed by compact in 1961 through legislation signed into law by President John F. Kennedy and the governors of the four basin states with land draining to the Delaware River (Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania). The passage of this compact marked the first time in our nation's history that the federal government and a group of states joined together as equal partners in a river basin planning, development, and regulatory agency.

For more information, visit the commission’s web site at http://www.drbc.net.


Contact: Clarke Rupert, DRBC, 609-883-9500 ext. 260, clarke.rupert@drbc.state.nj.us