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DRBC Gives Regional Climate Resilience Efforts a Boost
Interactive tool helps communities take informed action on extreme precipitation

For Immediate Release

March 20, 2024

(West Trenton, N.J.) -- The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) has released a new tool aimed at helping communities throughout our Basin understand extreme precipitation and empowering them to make informed planning and design decisions.

Extreme rainfall events are increasing throughout the Delaware River Basin, research shows. These more extreme events exacerbate existing flooding and challenge stormwater management.

The tool, Projecting Extreme Precipitation in the Delaware River Basin, allows users to obtain estimates of future changes in intensity, duration and frequency of extreme rainfall in the Delaware River Basin, thereby informing stormwater management and infrastructure design and increasing climate resilience.

"Sharing data-backed information in a user-friendly tool is critical to helping the many local officials, policymakers and planners in the Basin struggling to understand how to take action in the face of climate change," said Kristen Bowman Kavanagh, DRBC’s Deputy Executive Director and project lead. "This resource gives decisionmakers a key to unlock adaptation possibilities by providing expected climate-induced precipitation changes."

Users can see how storm events may intensify in the future by selecting a location, global emissions scenario, annual exceedance probability and time period of interest. With the option to view data on a county, local or watershed (HUC 12) level, users can tailor information to best suit their needs.

"Simply relying on historical observations to assess risk is no longer advisable in a changing climate. As communities make generational investments in bridges, culverts and other infrastructure, providing accurate information is critical to considering future flood risk," Arthur T. DeGaetano, Director of the Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC) at Cornell University and a member of DRBC's Advisory Committee on Climate Change, said. The Commission worked with the NRCC to develop the tool.

The tool is available at: https://www.nj.gov/drbc/programs/flow/idf-curves.html.

"Access to trusted information about extreme weather in the Delaware River Basin helps utilities and infrastructure owners like DELCORA understand flood risk and design for resilience," said Charles Hurst, Director of Engineering, Delaware County Regional Water Control Authority (DELCORA).

The DRBC is working to advance understanding of climate change impacts to our water resources to ensure an adequate and equitable supply of suitable quality water for Basin water users and the environment. In 2019, the DRBC established the Advisory Committee on Climate Change to provide the Commission with scientifically based information and recommendations.

The DRBC has also developed a complex computer model to evaluate sea level rise scenarios and plan for systemic impacts within the basin. In 2021, DRBC held its first Climate Change Forum. In 2022 and 2024, DRBC worked with the Pa. Emergency Management Agency to advance hazard mitigation and reduce flood losses. In 2023, the Commission released a report exploring the feasibility of additional freshwater storage to meet future water management and climate adaptation needs.

The DRBC will soon release a first-of-its-kind report evaluating the impacts of sea level rise on salinity intrusion and salinity-sensitive uses in the Delaware River Basin.

This work was funded in part by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the opinions or policies of the U.S. Government or the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and its funding sources. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute their endorsement by the U.S. Government, or the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation or its funding sources.

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 X at @DRBC1961.

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Elizabeth Brown, Elizabeth.Brown@drbc.gov

Kate Schmidt, Kate.Schmidt@drbc.gov

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