Wednesday, February 21, 2007
From Canaan Valley retreat...to river issues
Returned refreshed from a Presidents Day retreat to Canaan Valley, West Virginia. It snowed non-stop Saturday morning through Sunday evening. The valley is the headwater of Blackwater River, which runs to Parsons, joining Red Creek and Shavers Fork to form the Cheat River. My mother's family (Parsons) lived along the Cheat for several generations on a fine bottomland farming valley in Holly Meadows, which is just a few miles downstream from Parsons, Tucker County Seat. The Cheat flows north, joining the Monogahela River, which is joined by the Youghegheny River in S.W. Pennsylvania. The Mon meets the Allegheny River in Pittsburg, forming the mighty Ohio River. Both the Cheat and Yough are premier whitewater destinations.
The Delaware River Basin Commission (see my links list) is entering critical hearings and negotiations over an array of reservoir release and flow management issues, most recently made more urgent in the minds of many by the three record floods of the past three years. But the releases are managed for multiple purposes and any plan would require the buy-in of all four basin states.
The following is a summary of the issue and the proposed development of a new version of the "Flexible Flow Management Plan" for the New York City - Delaware River Basin Reservoirs. I haven't read it yet, and when I do I'll be providing comments to DRBC on behalf of the American Canoe Association and the comments will appear here for all the world to see.
You can begin getting a handle on this hugely complex issue for yourself by visiting DRBC. Or go straight to the proposal here.
"The Commission will hold a public hearing and accept written comment on a proposal to amend the agency’s Comprehensive Plan and Water Code to establish a Flexible Flow Management Plan (FFMP) for the New York City Delaware Basin Reservoirs (“City Delaware Reservoirs”) for multiple objectives, including, among others, water supply and drought mitigation, management of the reservoir tailwater fisheries and other habitat needs, and spill mitigation. The current reservoir releases program, which was established by Resolution No. 2004-3 in April of 2004, will expire on May 31, 2007. The current spill mitigation program, established by Resolution No. 2006-18, also will expire on May 31, 2007. The Commission will also accept comment on alternative reservoir management strategies that may be adopted in the event that consensus on the proposed FFMP is not reached. The alternative reservoir releases options to be considered are extending the current reservoir releases program or reinstating a previous reservoir releases program plan. Either option would be considered in combination with a seasonal spill mitigation program or an annual spill mitigation program for the three reservoirs. The releases program adopted in the event consensus is not reached on the FFMP would continue in effect until any expiration date contained in the program adopted or unless and until replaced by another program that has been approved by the Commission following a notice and comment rulemaking process. In accordance with Section 3.3 of the Delaware River Basin Compact, any program affecting the diversions, compensating releases, rights, conditions, and obligations of the 1954 Supreme Court Decree (link to the Office of the Delaware River Master's web site) in the matter of New Jersey v. New York, 347 U.S. 995, 74 S. Ct. 842 also requires the unanimous consent of the decree parties, which include the states of Delaware, New Jersey, and New York, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the City of New York."
Good luck and good night!