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DRBC Says Existing Uses at F.E. Walter Should be Protected
Deputy Executive Director Kavanagh Provides Testimony on Reservoir Study

For Immediate Release

March 18, 2021

(West Trenton, N.J.) -- Kristen Bowman Kavanagh, P.E., deputy executive director of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), provided written testimony to the Pennsylvania House Majority Policy Committee reaffirming DRBC’s position that the Francis E. (F.E.) Walter Dam’s existing, congressionally authorized purposes of recreation and flood risk management should be protected. An ongoing study of the dam was the subject of a committee hearing this morning, sponsored by Pa. State Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-122).

The DRBC is a non-federal sponsor of the F. E. Walter Dam Re-evaluation Study. As a study sponsor, DRBC represents the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and all Commission members. The study is looking at whether or not the dam may be modified or better managed to allow water in the reservoir to be used for additional purposes, for example, to augment low flows during drought, while maintaining its recreation and flood management authorizations. The dam is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and located in White Haven, Carbon County, Pa.

"Short-term weather patterns and longer-term climate patterns are changing and affecting the water cycle in the Basin. It is prudent to begin to evaluate and plan for the impacts the Basin may experience in the future as a result of these changes. At the same time, DRBC supports maintaining the existing uses of the reservoir for flood risk management and recreation and recognizes their value to the region. These uses should be protected," said Kavanagh in her written remarks.

Any recommendations that result from the study that suggest changes to the structure or operation of the dam and reservoir would require additional review at multiple government levels. For example, congressional approval would be required to add or change any authorized uses.  Changes that would impact DRBC’s Comprehensive Plan for the water resources of the Basin would require Commission approval. 

"We know how much this water and this reservoir mean to the region, to Pennsylvania, and its residents, and we look forward to working with the Commonwealth and all stakeholders to sustainably manage, protect and improve our critical water resources – including F.E. Walter Reservoir – for our residents, public safety, and a healthy environment," Kavanagh continued in her written remarks.

The hearing, originally scheduled for September 2020, was held virtually today. DRBC was initially invited to provide oral testimony at the hearing and was planning to participate. At the request of the Committee, the Commission was recently notified to submit written testimony only.

View DRBC’s complete written testimony (pdf)

The DRBC is an interstate-federal government agency created in 1961 by concurrent compact legislation, marking the first time that the federal government and a group of states joined together as equal partners in a river basin planning, development and regulatory agency. 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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Peter Eschbach, Peter.Eschbach@drbc.gov

Kate Schmidt, Kate.Schmidt@drbc.gov

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