WEST TRENTON, New Jersey, October 5, 2007 (ENS) - New York City has agreed to help regulate temperatures and water levels in the Delaware River by releasing up to a total of 35 million gallons a day from three of its reservoirs.
The Delaware River Basin Commission at its September 26 meeting directed commission staff to begin the public rulemaking process to implement an amended Flexible Flow Management Program for operation of the three New York City Delaware Basin reservoirs.
The intent of the agreement is to reduce flows and floods downriver from the Cannonsville, Pepacton and Neversink reservoirs during extreme conditions.
The agreement's spill mitigation component is intended to reduce the likelihood that the three reservoirs could be full and spilling over coincident with a major storm or thaw. It does not include specified void targets.
The reservoir agreement is part of a new water management proposal for the Delaware River reservoirs, agreed to unanimously by New York State, New York City, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, through the Delaware River Basin Commission.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis Thursday endorsed the new agreement saying it would improve trout habitat, bolster flood mitigation efforts and restore a more natural flow to the Delaware River.
The reservoirs not only feed the Delaware and other rivers but also supply drinking water to 17 million people.
"This is an innovative plan for dealing with a long-running issue," Grannis said. "Flood control, the trout fishery, biodiversity and recreation opportunities all can be aided while assuring adequate quantities of drinking water to millions. This new water release protocol could serve as a national model."
Major highlights of the plan include:
The plan drew praise from groups that have long worked on Delaware River Basin issues.
"We have been working for more than 30 years to bring about managed releases and flows for the Delaware River system and are pleased to see a new plan finally emerge," said Ron Urban, president of the New York State Council of Trout Unlimited.
"This approach will achieve higher and more protective water releases for the wild fish and aquatic life in these prolific rivers while continuing to protect New York City's drinking water supply."
"We applaud the agreement to alter the management of its dams in the Upper Delaware River basin to better support downstream aquatic species and ecosystems," Kathy Moser, acting state director for The Nature Conservancy in New York.
The plan goes into effect on an interim basis immediately.
Delaware River Basin Commission Executive Director Carol Collier said, "The next steps will be to draft and publish proposed rule changes to implement the Flexible Flow Management Program, hold informational meetings and public hearings, review the public comments received, make possible modifications to the proposed rules, and adopt final regulations. Our target is to complete the process by May 2008."
More information and public comment specifics are online at: http://water.usgs.gov/orh/nrwww/odrm/
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2007. All rights reserved.
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