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Pa. House and Senate Members Discover the Delaware Aboard the Schooner AJ Meerwald
Press Conference held prior at Bristol Borough Wharf along the Delaware River

For Immediate Release

September 11, 2018

(West Trenton, N.J.) -- On Friday, Sept. 7, members of the Pennsylvania Joint Legislative Conservation Committee (JLCC), Pa. House and Senate Appropriations Committees, staffers, and local leadership took part in an educational sail aboard the historic schooner AJ Meerwald to learn more about the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) and its programs. Preceding the sail, the legislators held a press conference at the Bristol Borough Wharf along the Delaware River recognizing the importance of the river to the Commonwealth and to the region.

The JLCC is a bipartisan committee made up of members of the Pa. House and Senate whose mission is to assist the Pa. General Assembly in ensuring the sustainable use and care of Pa.’s land, water, and air. Local members of the JLCC who participated on Friday include Rep. Marguerite Quinn (R, PA-143), Rep. Perry Warren (D, PA-31), and Rep. Mary Jo Daley (D, PA-148). Several of the JLCC members, including committee chair Senator Scott E. Hutchinson (R, PA-21) and Senator Scott Martin (R, PA-13), represent districts outside of the basin, but attended this event to learn more about the commission and show their support for the Delaware River.

"On behalf of the JLCC, thank you for this opportunity to discover the Delaware. The river connects past and present and also state to state. We appreciate the work of the DRBC and other stakeholders to address important issues that affect the basin and look for sustainable solutions," said Hutchinson.

The event came to fruition based on a recommendation from JLCC member Representative Donna Bullock (D, PA-195) for DRBC to engage the committee on major DRBC water management programs. Instead of holding the meeting in a traditional conference space, the commission decided on a more experiential approach and reached out to the Bayshore Center at Bivalve to see if they would be willing to host the event aboard the schooner AJ Meerwald. What better way to learn about the Delaware River and DRBC than on an historic sailing vessel, and once on board, participants got right to work helping hoist the sails and then split into three groups for short educational sessions with DRBC staff.

DRBC Manager for Water Quality Assessment John Yagecic, P.E., talked about the commission’s programs that assess and protect water quality throughout the basin, for example, DRBC’s efforts to reduce PCBs and other toxic pollutants in the Delaware Estuary (the tidal Delaware River and Bay); its Special Protection Waters program that protects the existing high quality waters of the non-tidal Delaware River; and a new, multi-year effort to examine whether criteria for dissolved oxygen can be improved to further support all life stages of resident and migratory fish in the Delaware Estuary and Bay. You can’t manage what you don’t measure, and monitoring is an important part of the commission’s programs to manage and improve water quality for all those that depend on this resource for drinking, agricultural, and industrial use, as well as for aquatic life.

"We all need clean water.  The Delaware River is important to protect and safeguard for the millions of people that depend on it for their drinking water," said Bullock.

The lesson by DRBC Manager for Water Resource Operations Amy Shallcross, P.E., focused on flow management in the Delaware River Basin. Even though the Delaware River is undammed, its flow is still highly managed through reservoir releases and flow regimes. This is especially important in times of drought or dry periods to ensure that there is enough fresh water flowing downstream to repel the salty water from the ocean that could impact drinking water and industrial intakes along the tidal portion of the river. During past droughts in the basin, DRBC’s drought management programs have proven successful in ensuring drinking water sources were protected and other water uses, for example, industry and power generation, were not curtailed.

DRBC Manager for Water Resource Planning Chad Pindar, P.E., focused his talk on various water uses in the basin and how DRBC manages water supply. Thermoelectric power generation, public water supply, out of basin diversions, and industry are the largest water users in the basin, and DRBC regulatory policies are in place to help balance these needs to ensure there is enough water for all uses, as well as for in-stream flow needs. The commission is also looking at projected demands to ensure a dependable water supply for the basin in the future.

At the end of the sail, participants disembarked the AJ Meerwald with a new appreciation for the complexities of river management and the work of the commission. "We must come together across party lines to support the work of DRBC and unite to protect and preserve our environment," said Sen. Andrew E. Dinniman (D, PA-19).

"Today the Delaware River is cleaner than it’s been in decades, thanks to water quality improvement programs spearheaded by the DRBC, and people are returning to their local waterfronts to reconnect with the river," said DRBC Executive Director Steve Tambini. "Thank you to all who took part in today’s educational sail; we hope you have a greater understanding of the Delaware’s importance to the region and of the efforts that go into managing and protecting this resource, which provides drinking water for about 15 million people, including nearly 5.5 million Pennsylvanians."

Special thanks also go to event sponsor Pennoni, the Bayshore Center at Bivalve, the AJ Meerwald crew, the Bristol Borough Council, and Rob Strasser of the King George II Inn.

The DRBC is a federal/interstate government agency responsible for managing the water resources within the Delaware River Basin without regard to political boundaries. The five commission members are the governors of the basin states (Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) and the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ North Atlantic Division, who represents the federal government.

To learn more about the commission, please visit www.drbc.gov or follow DRBC on Twitter at @DRBC1961.

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Contacts: Kate Schmidt, Kate.Schmidt@drbc.gov, (609) 883-9500 ext. 205
Peter Eschbach, Peter.Eschbach@drbc.gov, (609) 883-9500 ext. 208

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The AJ Meerwald is a 1928 restored oyster schooner. It is used by the Bayshore Center at Bivalve for educational programs along the tidal Delaware River and Bay. In this photo, event participants board the AJ Meerwald in Bristol Borough for an educational sail to learn about DRBC and its programs. Photo by DRBC.DRBC Manager for Water Resource Planning Chad Pindar, P.E., (in blue shirt holding map) discusses water use in the Delaware River Basin and commission water supply programs. Also pictured are Sen. Scott Hutchinson (in hat), Sen. Hutchinson staffers Justin Leventry and Nathan Akers, JLCC Executive Director Terry Guerrieri, AJ Meerwald First Mate Joshua Scornavacchi, and Pennoni's Mark Bickerton. Photo by DRBC. DRBC Manager for Water Resource Operations Amy Shallcross, P.E., (blue shirt pointing to map) talks about flow management in the Delaware River Basin and DRBC's drought management program. Pictured L to R are Melissa Knepper of Sen. Richard Alloway II's office, DRBC's Amy Shallcross, P.E., Craig Bryson of Pennoni, Sen. Scott Martin, and Sen. Andrew Dinniman. Photo by DRBC.DRBC Manager of Water Quality Assessment John Yagecic, P.E., (blue shirt holding a water quality meter) talks about DRBC's water quality programs and why it is important to monitor the Delaware River. Pictured L to R are Clarice Schillinger of Rep. Todd Stephens' office (R, PA-151), Rick Rickman of WBCB Radio, John Yagecic, P.E., Lara Flynn of U.S. Sen. Robert Casey's office, Rep. Donna Bullock, Denise Plummer of the JLCC, Angela Garland of Pennoni, Sakura Ung of the JLCC, and Rep. Mary Jo Daley (in blue hat). Photo by DRBC.