CDRW Members Sign Letter Calling for Increased Transparency in Delaware River Basin Flow Management

Twenty-one members of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed signed on to a letter requesting a public meeting with the Delaware River Basin Decree Parties regarding the Flexible Flow Management Program (FFMP), which is scheduled for reauthorization in May 2016. The letter encourages the Decree Parties to arrange and attend a meeting with stakeholders in the Upper Delaware and throughout the watershed to discuss the FFMP, and highlights the importance of public participation and transparency in flow management and planning processes that affect the entire watershed. 

The FFMP was first implemented in May 2011, and has been reauthorized each year since its inception. The program was developed in an effort to meet water supply needs while recognizing that additional water in NYC-Delaware Basin reservoirs could benefit the entire watershed through scheduled releases that support fisheries habitat downstream of the reservoirs, assist with flood mitigation, and repel the upstream movement of salt water in the Delaware Estuary. The scheduled releases are determined using the Operations Support Tool (OST) developed by the NYC Department of Environmental Protection. The OST predicts future storage in the reservoir system using a model that incorporates 30-years of reservoirs data and accounts for many variables, such as weather forecasts and current demand for water.

The FFMP was the focus of a public meeting hosted by the Delaware River Basin Commission's Regulated Flow Advisory Committee (RFAC) on Dec. 3, 2015 in Hawley, PA. Several presentations by attendees highlighted the need for a more robust review of the FFMP and recommended adjustments to the program. While the meeting was an important step forward in the process of reauthorizing the FFMP, a common theme among the presentations and public comments was an expression of disappointment over the absence of any Decree Party Principals at the meetings, since the Principals have decision making power regarding the FFMP. 

The letter submitted by members of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed encourages the Decree Parties to arrange, and more importantly attend a meeting with the public as a follow-up to the RFAC meeting, so that stakeholders can receive important updates and provide input directly to the Party Principals. "Transparency and public participation are essential in these important decisions that affect the safety, livelihood, and quality of life of so many residents who live within the watershed and rely on the Delaware River for their drinking water."

To view a copy of the letter, click here. 

The December 3, 2015 RFAC meeting took place at the Wallenpaupeck Lake Environmental Learning Center in Hawley, PA. Photograph by Doug Kerr.