A coalition of conservation groups have spent many hours to develop a water release policy from New York City reservoirs that is a “win-win” for local communities, the river, and New York City and the DRBC. The CP2 Adaptive Release Policy provides a solution that meets water supply needs without additional drought risk while protecting the Delaware River's ecology, improving the recreational opportunities for local communities, and increasing the voids in the reservoirs compared to the Delaware River Basin Commission’s (DRBC) proposed FFMP. CP2 www.drarp.org is a “win-win” for local communities, the river, and New York City and DRBC. It does this:
- By "adapting" water releases to levels in the reservoir, CP2 provides more water when there is water to give, but protects water supply by reducing water releases when reservoirs are lower.
- CP2 ensures more consistent releases into the rivers that protect the ecology of the rivers, including the main stem Delaware, and create a more stable recreational environment.
- CP2 greatly increases habitat for trout and shad in the main stem Delaware River – fish that provide a multimillion dollar industry to local communities.
- By releasing more water when reservoirs are higher, CP2 reduces spill over the dams and creates larger late summer voids in the reservoirs during years when rainfall is above average - a benefit to downstream communities concerned about flooding.
The conservation coalition is about bringing people and different interests together, and developing a common-sense answer that meets the bottom line for local communities, the rivers, New York City, and the DRBC. New York City and the DRBC have held steadfastly stated that any water release policy must not exceed a defined limit of total “drought days.” The conservation coalition’s policy CP2 exceeds that limit by 4%, and we have demonstrated that a 4% increase in “drought days” presents no real risk to water supply.
Your readers may have read statements by Friends of the Upper Delaware (FUDR) that claim again to have their own “solution” for the region. Unfortunately, their release proposal is misleading and unworkable, and will cause a deadlock on the real changes in the works for the Upper Delaware basin. FUDR knows that their release plan can never work because it would create more than a 100% increase in this defined limit of total “drought days.” In fact, the FUDR plan would more than double the length of droughts in the Delaware River basin. This makes their plan reckless, not just for water supply, but for fish. When the reservoirs cross that drought level, the water releases really drop, and it is the rivers that pay the price. All of the benefits of higher releases will be lost when flows plummet during more frequent drought events. But, FUDR’s message sounds great because it promises big water releases and large voids in the reservoirs all year – even when they fully know their plan is not within the realm of possibility.
Your readers will also recall that FUDR is the same group that filed an intent to sue towns and neighbors that were reeling from the destruction of the June 2006 flood.
On the other hand, after the June 2006 flood Trout Unlimited and a number of other conservation-minded groups raised and spent over $30,000 to hire technical experts to work with the towns and the counties to assess and provide recommendations at their highest priority flood damage sites. We understand that no one benefits from washed out roads and bridges, and we provided at our expense these technical experts to use science to better protect against bridge and road damage. We organized two workshops for highway supervisors and town leaders to learn from the experts about stream dynamics, and how to reduce flood damage and make decisions that save money and protect the environment. We did not simply point fingers and threaten lawsuits.
The real issue here is whether New York City will realistically look at drought risk and will DRBC continue to dictate the needs of the communities in the region? For years, progress on managing the Upper Delaware River reservoirs has been hindered because of the perception from the decision-makers that the fishermen are all unreasonable, and that there is no unified voice from upstate. FUDR’s negative and irresponsible accusations serve only to divide and weaken our collective position.
The real solution is for residents and businesses of the Upper Delaware to get together and demand that New York City allow more water to be released sensibly, and that water releases be based on science as in CP2. New York City and DRBC know that the same amount of water will go down the river every year. They know that CP2 only shifts the pattern of water releases to benefit recreation, protect the health of the rivers, and increase voids in the reservoirs during wet years. We urge everyone to take your frustration and to tell New York City and the DRBC that a slight increase in “drought days” is well worth the benefits to Catskills communities and their rivers.
Fisheries Scientist, Trout Unlimited
Recently during a public hearing at the PPL Facility in Hawley PA, Friends of the Upper Delaware River [FUDR] reared their sneaky ways again. During the testimony period, an FUDR executive read into record “FUDR's Void/Graduated Release Plan”. This was a very poor PR attempt to re-purpose FUDR’s 600 or nothing releases on the West Branch, and try to save face with the towns and people of the Upper Delaware Basin. All by using the vulnerable victims of recent floods for their support by a series of misleading and misguided statements. This proposal is not even complete. It is based on nothing and promises flood prone areas a void in the reservoirs that can not be achieved under this plan. There are no release numbers during a time when snow pack is plentiful and when the upstate reservoirs start to refill. There is nothing in this plan that discusses what happens when the reservoirs fall below a certain level. There is nothing in this plan that addresses what happens when the upper basin reservoirs reach drought levels. It would empty the reservoirs that hold water for millions of people in NY and NJ on a dry year.
The towns and flood victims along the entire corridor should take a step back and really take a detailed look at this proposal, see it for what it really is. Understand how the reservoir systems operate before they just hear the word “void” and think FUDR is your saving grace. Think back months ago when FUDR was threatening to sue your town, weeks after a devistating flood.
Stop allowing the FUDR rhetoric from clouding your thinking. This proposal is propaganda. Although it certainly sounds like the answer, its based on nothing, has not been modeled, has no chance of being considered because it can not possibly work. The system can not dump or divert water fast enough during wet years to keep the voids FUDR is falsely promising you.
To all the flood victims and towns along the entire Delaware from Deposit to New Hope to the Delaware Bay: Do not be fooled by this proposal. You are being preyed upon during a very vulnerable time. FUDR alienated themselves from this process long ago and they are trying to force themselves back in at your expense.
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