Pa. announces position regarding New York City reservoir releases into Delaware River

Harrisburg, PA – The
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission recently announced the
release of a fisheries recommendation for management of water
released to Delaware River tributaries from New York City water
supply reservoirs.  

The recommendation
focuses on the Delaware River and its tributaries, the East Branch,
West Branch and Neversink rivers where New York City reservoirs are
located.  

“We worked closely
with the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation in
the development of this position and believe it is a strong
statement for sound aquatic resource management which, if
implemented, will be a significant step forward in managing
Delaware River water for down-basin uses,” said Leroy Young,
director of the agency’s Bureau of Fisheries.

“We are pleased that
the recommendation is protective of the upper Delaware River
mainstem, which is a priority for Pennsylvania, as well as the
tributaries.”  

The report,
entitled Recommended Improvements to the Flexible Flow
Management Program for Coldwater Ecosystem Protection in the
Delaware River Tailwaters, was completed on Jan. 12, and is a
collaborative effort by both fishery agencies.

Over the past 50
years, water management in the Delaware River has been regulated by
a 1954 U. S. Supreme Court decree. Subsequent management decisions
have been made unanimously by parties to the decree that include
New York City, New York state, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and
Delaware. 

The Delaware River
Basin Commission, comprised of the basin states and a federal
government representative, has additional interstate water
management responsibilities under an interstate compact. The newly
released fisheries position calls for improvements in the flexible
flow management program that manages reservoir releases and expires
in 2011.

The fisheries report
sets management objectives and levels of protection for fisheries
in various tributary and Delaware River segments downstream from
water supply reservoirs. Reservoir-release scenarios and a recent
10-year record of New York City water supply needs were used as
inputs into the operational analysis and simulation of integrated
systems computer model. 

The model generated
stream flow and reservoir storage information.  These outputs were
used with a second computer tool to predict fish habitat available
for trout and other coldwater species in various seasons. The
federally endangered dwarfwedge mussel was also
considered.  

The fisheries
recommendation is condensed to a table of reservoir releases from
Cannonsville, Pepacton and Neversink reservoirs that modifies the
current fow model to better support cold water ecosystems
downstream of the reservoirs to the town of Callicoon. The majority
of flow supporting Delaware fisheries is released from Cannonsville
reservoir into the West Branch, and the fisheries recommendation
calls for 1.35 to two times the existing flow in the summer and
winter when reservoirs are relatively full. 

Young reports that
trout-spawning and incubation habitat, adult-trout habitat, and
riffle-dwelling fish habitat all improve significantly under the
recommendation. Summer temperatures should be more favorable for
trout and cold water fishes in the upper Delaware River mainstem.
Dwarf wedgemussels will be protected by the fisheries
proposal. 

Categories: Pennsylvania – Jeff Mulhollem

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