Of Drinking Water, Trout, and Floods
February 21st, 2008

The Delaware Basin Reservoirs

New York City is catching some lumps over plans about how to release water from the Delaware Basin Reservoirs in the Catskills, the source of the city’s drinking water. Environmentalists, public officials, fishing organizations, and residents along the Delaware River are not excited about the implementation of the new plan, called the Flexible Flow Management Program. It was an agreement between New York City, New York state, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania to provide enough enough drinking water while protecting the environment and river communities.

But the plan lays out no specific numbers on how much water will ultimately remain in the reservoirs, and devil is in the details for many opponents.

A significant number of those who showed up at the last public hearing about the plan called for the city to keep its reservoirs at 80 percent capacity to avoid flooding along the river. Some believe that the city keeps more water than is needed.

Peter Kolesar, a professor at Columbia University, said the plan would do well for everyone involved, but it needed adjustments to fulfill its goal. He estimated that the plan overestimates the amount of water the city will need to draw by 50 percent. “It assumes that New York City will use vastly more water than it actually requires,” he said at the hearing, “and by so doing, they punish the environment in the Upper Delaware communities.”

15 members of the House of Representatives have signed onto a letter calling for the reservoirs to be kept at the lowest level possible to avoid flooding.

Trout Unlimited, a national fish conservancy group, is pressing for more than just lower levels. The plan calls for releasing different amounts of water at different times, and the group is calling for a broader range of release levels among more seasons, as well as a more detailed accounting of how much water is released.

One specific criticism they have is that too little water will be released from the Cannonsville Reservoir during the summer. The organization says that the lack of cold water during the summer season will cause long term damage to the trout population along the river. This position has the support of the Friends of the Upper Delaware River.

“This is just another example of New York Citys mistreatment of the environment of upstate New York and the Delaware Valley,” opines the Water Watch blog.

But for all of the debate over water levels and release times, Maya K. van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, suggests preventing development in floodplains along the river and reclaiming existing development already there. That, she says, is “the best flood protection, the only true flood protection.”

By on February 21, 2008, 3:14 pm
In category: Environment | 3 Comments »

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3 Responses to “Of Drinking Water, Trout, and Floods”

  1. Another article on the fight over Big D Water - North Eastern Fly Fishing Forums Says:
    February 21st, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    […] article on the fight over Big D Water Of Drinking Water, Trout, and Floods: The Delaware Basin Reservoirs February 21st, 2008 New York City is catching some lumps over plans about how to release water […]

  2. Fish Pennsylvania » Another article on the fight over Big D Water Says:
    February 21st, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    […] article on the fight over Big D Water Of Drinking Water, Trout, and Floods: The Delaware Basin Reservoirs February 21st, […]

  3. Of Drinking Water, Trout, and Floods « The Catskill Post Says:
    February 25th, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    […] Read more here […]

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