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DRBC Extends Comment Period On Proposed Rulemaking For New York City Delaware Basin Reservoirs Management Plan

For Immediate Release

January 17, 2008

(WEST TRENTON, N.J.) -- Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) Executive Director Carol R. Collier today announced that the period for submitting written comments on proposed regulations to implement a Flexible Flow Management Program (FFMP) for operation of the three New York City Delaware Basin reservoirs will be extended through March 3, 2008.  The comment period was to have ended on January 18.

"The 45-day extension is in response to numerous requests voiced at DRBC public hearings held yesterday in West Trenton on the proposed amendments," Collier said.  "This will provide additional time for the public and government officials just taking office to study the proposed rulemaking and offer written comments."

Comments should be mailed to Commission Secretary, DRBC, P.O. Box 7360, 25 State Police Drive, West Trenton, NJ 08628-0360.  They also may be faxed to "Attn: Commission Secretary" at (609) 883-9522 or emailed to paula.schmitt@drbc.state.nj.us.  All written comments must be received by 5 p.m. on March 3 and should include the name, address, and affiliation (if any) of the commenter, along with "FFMP" in the subject line.  Comments on the earlier FFMP agreement published in February 2007 but subsequently withdrawn will be included in the administrative record for this action and need not be resubmitted.

The proposed regulations are consistent with provisions of a September 26, 2007 agreement unanimously reached by the parties to the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decree that provides a comprehensive framework for addressing multiple flow management objectives.

"Based on the public comments received during the rulemaking process, the DRBC may modify its proposed regulations and request that the decree parties consent to adoption of the final regulations," Collier said.

The FFMP is intended to provide a more adaptive means for managing the Cannonsville, Pepacton, and Neversink reservoirs for competing uses including: water supply; drought management; flood mitigation; protection of the tailwaters fishery; a diverse array of habitat needs in the main stem river, estuary, and bay; recreation; and salinity repulsion.  The 1954 decree, which resolved an interstate water dispute centering on the New York City reservoirs, made no provision for spill mitigation, conservation or ecological releases.

The law creating the DRBC gives the commission the power to allocate the waters of the basin, but prohibits it from adversely affecting the New York City reservoir releases or diversions as provided in the 1954 decree without the unanimous consent of the five decree parties.

The parties to the 1954 Supreme Court decree include Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York State, and New York City.  The members of the DRBC are the four basin states and the federal government.

The September 2007 FFMP agreement reached by the decree parties is being implemented on a temporary basis by New York State and New York City, in coordination with the Delaware River Master appointed under the decree, while DRBC conducts its notice and comment rulemaking process.

The FFMP would largely eliminate the reservoir storage "banks" previously used for habitat protection purposes and instead base releases on storage levels, resulting in larger releases when water is abundant and smaller releases when storage is at or below normal.

The FFMP agreement's spill mitigation component is intended to reduce the likelihood that the three reservoirs could be full and spilling coincident with a major storm or thaw.  It does not include specified void targets or permanent voids.

Additional information can be found on the commission's web site at www.drbc.net.

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.


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