By Jeff Skelding
The management of the New York City Delaware River reservoirs near the top of the watershed has many implications for the entire basin. Water releases from the reservoirs are used to meet downstream flow targets, repel the northward migration of the salt front from the Delaware Bay, maximize recreational opportunities, and ensure healthy aquatic habitat.
The current reservoir management plan expires on May 31, 2017, and the Decree Parties (NY, NJ, PA, DE, and NYC) have been unable to reach agreement on a long-term plan that meets the needs of all watershed stakeholders. For the past 5 years, the parties have approved consecutive one-year extensions of an unchanged management plan.
There's a new twist this year. In February 2017, the State of New Jersey declared it would not agree to another extension. In the absence of a unanimous agreement of the parties, this sets the stage for a return to a 1980's reservoir management approach known as "Revision 1." Water releases under Revision 1 will be dramatically lower than under the current plan and the entire river system stands to suffer. The parties continue to negotiate, but with each passing day, the likelihood of Revision 1 looms increasingly larger.
Coalition member, Friends of the Upper Delaware River, is asking groups and individuals to call or email the decree party principals to urge them to protect the Delaware River.
The message is simple: Work together to develop a reservoir management plan before June 1 that avoids Revision 1 and provides strong environmental and economic protections for the entire watershed.
Led by Executive Director Jeff Skelding, Friends of the Upper Delaware River (FUDR) works to protect, preserve, and enhance the cold-water ecosystem of the Upper Delaware River Watershed, addressing any environmental threats for the benefit of local communities, residents, and visitors to the region. FUDR is a founding member of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed and serves as the Coalition’s State Outreach Lead in New York.