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Hydrology/Flow Management

The Delaware River and its tributaries provide water for many different purposes, for example, drinking and industrial water supply, power generation, water quality maintenance, in-stream flow needs for aquatic life, fishing, boating and recreation.

DRBC staff monitor the Basin's hydrology as it relates to river conditions, reservoir storage, groundwater levels and drought management.

The conditions are important to manage to ensure adequate flow in the river for all needs - especially during times of drought - and to mitigate impacts from climate change.

DRBC's Hydrology/Flow Management Program is led by our Water Resource Operations Team.

The Water Cycle.
The Hydrologic Cycle. View as pdf.

Hydrology is the study of water and how it moves through the various stages of the hydrologic - or water - cycle.

Of all the water on earth, only about 3% is freshwater; of that, only about 0.5% is available to use as drinking water.

As water moves through the cycle, from rain and snowmelt to surface or groundwater and back again, water is used by humans for a variety of needs such as water for households, businesses and industries; for irrigation; and for production of electric power. After use, most water is returned, perhaps discharged downstream or allowed to soak into the ground; however, some uses, known as consumptive uses, are such that the water used is never directly returned to the system.

Learn more: Basin Water Use

Sometimes, the DRB gets too much water, and areas experience flooding.

Learn more: DRBC Flood Loss Reduction

Or, the DRB gets too little water, and areas experience drought.

Learn more: DRBC Drought Information

Flow Management
DRBC Water Management Graphic.
Water Management in the DRB. View graphic as pdf.

Over 13 million people depend on the water resources of the Delaware River Basin, including half the population of New York City.

DRBC works with its partners to manage the water resources of the basin to ensure that there is enough water in the basin for all competing needs during normal conditions, and especially in times of drought.

While there is no dam on the mainstem Delaware River, there are reservoirs on its tributaries that are used for a variety of purposes: drinking water, water supply, flood mitigation, recreation, or a combination of the above.

Water stored in reservoirs can be released during dry periods to bolster flow levels and/or help repel salinity in the Delaware Estuary to protect drinking water supplies.

Learn more: DRBC Flow Management