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DRBC Completes Water Storage Study to Support Resilience Planning
A future-ready Basin may require more storage to address changing conditions

For Immediate Release

April 26, 2023

(West Trenton, N.J.) -- The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) has released a review of future water storage options for the Delaware River Basin, Evaluation of Additional Storage in the Delaware River Basin (pdf 80 MB).

The study explores the feasibility of additional freshwater storage to meet future water availability, climate adaptation, drought management and flow management needs in the Delaware River Basin.

"While there is no immediate need for additional water storage, the DRBC sought to create a planning-level inventory of potential options that would be available if the DRBC determines that additional storage is needed in the future," said Chad Pindar, P.E., DRBC's Manager of Water Resource Planning.

The study seeks to not only identify, but also evaluate the feasibility of, options that could provide additional freshwater storage across a range of volumes, from 1 billion gallons (BG) to upward of 20 BG.

In the Delaware River Basin, both the flood of record and the drought of record occurred more than 50 years ago, in 1955 and 1962-1967, respectively.

"Future climate change scenarios suggest we need to plan for more variable flows - including more frequent drought conditions - to increase the resilience of the Delaware River Basin’s water resources," said Kristen Bowman Kavanagh, P.E., the DRBC's Deputy Executive Director. 

DRBC has noted several climate-related impacts in our Basin. Precipitation is predicted to occur in the form of fewer, but more intense storms, increasing the potential for flooding events. Higher temperatures and evaporation may create a greater likelihood for rapid onset drought conditions during periods of low rainfall. The seasonality of flows may also change, for example, with less snowpack in the winter resulting in lower flows in the spring.

Sea level rise may also require increased releases from reservoir storage to augment freshwater flows in the Delaware River to impede the salt front and protect public water supply intakes. Industrial and other water users south of Philadelphia would also be impacted if increased salinity makes river water unsuitable for conventional treatment. 

"The DRBC works to ensure water security for over 13 million people in four states," DRBC Executive Director Steve Tambini said. "To better manage this shared resource into the future, the DRBC needed to understand baseline options for expanded storage."

Click here to view the report (pdf 80 MB).

Learn more about the study at https://www.nj.gov/drbc/programs/flow/reservoir-storage-study.html.

The DRBC is a federal/interstate 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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Elizabeth Brown, Elizabeth.Brown@drbc.gov

Kate Schmidt, Kate.Schmidt@drbc.gov

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