Monday, October 22, 2007

A Victory for Truth...

Looking upstream toward Devil's Tea Table on a perfect Monday trip with Riverkeeper friends including Katy (pictured), Shannon, Chari (Schuylkill Riverkeeper) and husband Jay, and Fred Stine. Felt great to be back on the water and paddling with such learned company.
Finally, after two years of the local print media regurgitating "the reservoirs did it" myth promoted by the self-proclaimed (and self-serving) "river rats" -- one newspaper -- The Hunterdon Democrat-- gets it right.

Well, they didn't get it completely right, but they have come closest to the truth. The NYC reservoirs did not cause any of the last three Delaware River floods. Permanent voids of 20% in the big reservoirs will NOT PREVENT flooding along the lower Delaware River floodplain.

Will leaving voids in the reservoirs reduce flooding? Maybe yes, maybe no. NOT if the preciptation during a particular storm event falls mostly within the Pennsylvania tributary watersheds and/or downstream from the reservoir drainage areas. The floodplain will flood again. Nothing will change that basic fact. Keeping the reservoirs at 50% won't stop flooding below Easton if the Pocono and Lehigh watersheds are pounded by rain on top of snow melt! The people who live along the river are there at the mercy of the river. Those who take positive action such as raising buildings or seeking a property buy-out are to be commended for accomodating reality.

This topic of Delaware River flooding is complex and involves many variables. The so-called "river rats" present a simplistic, fear based narrative that distorts both the historical flood record and watershed science. Unfortunately these distortions have become popular myth. They just keep repeating the lies over and over again to kind of catapult the propaganda. Reminds me of....oh never mind.

-- "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."
George W. Bush May 25, 2005

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Here are a few important issues that require your immediate attention.

Clean Water Action is requesting that each of us contact our congressional representatives to express support for the Clean Water Act, which has been seriously undermined by the Smirking Chimp Administration. Click here to find out more.


PLEASE consider attending one of the informational meetings sponsored by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) on the proposed Special Protection Waters designation for the Wild and Scenic Lower Delaware River. The non-tidal Lower Delaware River extends from the Delaware Water Gap to Trenton/Morrisville. The upper reaches from the Water Gap to Hancock, NY already have these regs in place, which is one of the reasons we have such clean water flowing down to the Lower Delaware.

The New Jersey meeting will be held Thursday October 25, 7:00-9:00pm at the Prallsville Mill, Rt. 29, Stockton. The Pennsylvania meeting will be held Thursday November 1, 7:00-9:00 pm, in Room 315, Acopian Engineering Building at Lafayette College, Easton. Go to the DRBC website for more information.

The FINAL PUBLIC HEARING on DRBC’s proposed SPW designation will be held on Tuesday, December 4, 2:30pm at the DRBC, 25 State Police Drive , West Trenton, NJ. We need to you to attend and speak up for the river and this crucial designation in order to make sure that the high quality waters of the Lower Delaware River are kept clean and waters that need improvement are restored.

Letters in support of Special Protection Waters designation are urgently needed. Please send your letter for the record to DRBC today –deadline for all letters is December 6, 2007. Let the DRBC know you care about the Delaware River!

For a sample letter go to (see my links list) and look for action alerts.

In 2000, the U.S. Congress enacted the “Lower Delaware River Wild and Scenic Rivers Act,” which included most of the Lower Delaware River into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network then petitioned the DRBC to designate the Lower Delaware River as Special Protection Waters (SPW), a classification system that is similar to New Jersey’s Category 1 water quality classification and Pennsylvania’s Exceptional and High Quality classification program..

The DRBC collected water quality data showing that that the Lower Delaware has higher water quality than the existing minimum standards. Based on that, the DRBC has decided to move towards permanent SPW for this section to protect that high quality and the exceptional resources that merited it Wild and Scenic status. The goal of SPW is to maintain exceptionally high scenic, recreational, and ecological values or water supply uses.

The SPW regulations address point sources of pollution by requiring higher levels of treatment (Best Demonstrable Technology) for new large discharges that are reviewed by the DRBC. This applies to new and/or expanded discharges to tributaries and the main stem. DRBC will set water quality targets at set points in the river and at the mouth of major tributaries based on the water quality data they collected and analyzed. These targets will establish existing water quality parameters for discharge permits. Once water quality standards are established, it is also required that there will be no measurable change in existing water quality from new discharges for these higher-than-standard quality waters. An alternatives analysis that first considers no-discharge technologies is also required.

The Special Protection Waters program also requires that nonpoint source pollution control plans to be prepared by applicants proposing new discharges and/or new large water withdrawals. Best management practices and infiltration strategies for new development will be required to prevent, manage, and recycle stormwater runoff.

In short -- Please take the time to write a letter to the DRBC supporting Special Protection Waters.

Need more information or inspiration? Email me at

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fall Paddling...

Pony Truss Bridge over the Musconetcong River, one of only two in New Jersey and listed as a National Historic structure.

Today is American Rivers Blog Action Day, which they say is "uniting bloggers from around the world to put one important issue on everyone’s mind - the environment."

Nearly 9,000 bloggers - with an audience reach of 6.5 million subscribers - are blogging about rivers today, so they say.

October through March is when we like to paddle the smaller creeks and rivers. Right now most are still too low but November usually brings a fair amount of rain to bring the flows back up.

In an earlier post I erroneously stated that this year is the Five-year/five-foot drawdown of Lake Hopatcong, which brings steady flows to the Musconetcong River. However, upon checking with Cliff Lundin (former Mayor of Hopatcong and Musconecong Watershed Assoc. Trustee) the five-year drawdown won't happen until 2008. He said "Regular 26 inch drawdown starts Nov 1. It goes at the higher outflow rate until its down 26. Next year is the big one. 60 inch drawdown starts after Labor Day."

OK paddling buds, help me remember that. LABOR DAY '08. This year is only 26" and Cliff tells me that with the drought the lake is already down 7 inches. It won't take long to go down the remaining 19 inches unless we get a big storm. Still, let's remain optimistic that November will be an average precipitation month and if that is the case we'll have many happy, albeit chilly days of creek and small river paddling in store.