Thursday, April 7, 2011

NY to modify Catskill water releases to Delaware River

Photo be Scott Foster - NYCDEP

New York City has agreed to modifications of releases of water from its reservoir system in the Catskill Mountains to better protect the ecology of the Delaware River in New Jersey and other downriver states.

It also will help provide drought relief and flood protection, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) which announced the news today. 

The agreement, worked out with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection "will better control the river's salt line, typically found in an area around the Delaware Memorial Bridge in Salem County, thereby better protecting aquatic life, as well as drinking-water suppliers and industries that utilize fresh water from the river,"  the NJDEP said.

The department added that the agreement has been approved by the four states that share the river basin - New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

The agreement will enable water purveyors in a broad swath of central New Jersey to tap into a larger share of Delaware River water via the Delaware & Raritan Canal. It also calls for the city to test a procedure to help to alleviate threats of flooding along upper portions of the Delaware River.

"This agreement is a perfect example of agencies working together and across state lines to reach a goal that is good for the entire region, one that is consistent with good water supply practices,'' said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin.

"I must commend New York City for working with us toward resolving our concerns with its operating plan for its reservoir system and recognizing that the way the city releases water from its reservoirs is felt many miles downstream," Martin said.

Under terms of the modifications:
  • Fishery officials from all four states and the city will form a panel to advise the city on maintaining water flows and temperatures to maintain a healthy and vibrant fishery.

  • New Jersey can increase its diversion via the Delaware & Raritan Canal during drought warnings from 85 million gallons per day to 100 million gallons per day. During drought emergencies, the diversion will remain at 85 million gallons per day.

  • New York City has set an operational goal to maintain its reservoirs at 10 percent below capacity from Sept. 1 to March 15, and an average of five percent below capacity from July 1 to Sept. 1 and from March 15 to May 1. That step could help alleviate river flooding during periods of major storms and heavy snow melt.

See the full NJDEP news release here


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