Eastern Conservation Director
12/8/2003 -- Washington, D.C. -- Trout Unlimited (TU) and The Nature Conservancy today applauded Reps. James Walsh (R), Sherwood Boehlert (R) and Maurice Hinchey (D) of New York, and Rep. Don Sherwood (R) of Pennsylvania for working to obtain funding for an effort to study and improve flows on the Upper Delaware River and its tributaries.
The Members of Congress worked to include $250,000 for the U.S. Geological Survey in the Department of the Interior appropriations bill, and to insert language in the Energy and Water bill urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to use $400,000, to improve water flows for natural resource protection in the Upper Delaware basin. Both pieces of legislation recently were signed into law.
Leon Szeptycki, TU Eastern Conservation Director, said, “This is a crucial step in the ongoing effort to improve the long-term health of the watershed and to make the Delaware the world class fishery it should be.”
For decades, management of the Upper Delaware has been a source of controversy among New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), the interstate commission through which the states make decisions about the river, is currently engaged in an effort to re-examine its flow-management plan. The congressional funding will help pay for the science and analysis that will allow DRBC to evaluate changes to flows out of upstream reservoirs that supply New York City’s drinking water.
The flow modeling software will greatly improve the ability to predict the effect of various river flows on drinking water, downstream communities, fish habitat and other uses. For example, the model will assess how higher minimum flows for fish may affect the water supplies of New York City and the various downstream users.
“This new technology has the potential to resolve in three years one of the most vexing interstate problems of the past 50,” said Szeptycki. “The bipartisan effort demonstrates how common sense can be applied to common problems for the common good.”
“We sincerely appreciate the efforts of the Members of Congress, as well as Sens. Clinton (D) and Schumer (D), to secure this funding,” said Colin Apse, freshwater resource specialist for The Nature Conservancy who also chairs the DRBC subcommittee on ecological flows. “This project will conserve species habitat, improve boating and angling opportunities, and protect drinking water.”
The Delaware is the longest un-dammed river east of the Mississippi, extending 330 miles from the confluence of its East and West branches at Hancock, N.Y., to the mouth of the Delaware Bay. More than 15 million people, about five percent of the nation's population, rely on the waters of the Delaware River Basin for drinking, recreational and industrial uses. Roughly half of New York City’s water supply needs are met by the river, and a 1998 TU study found that trout fishing on the Upper Delaware River contributed about $30 million annually to three rural New York counties.
Mission: Trout Unlimited is North America’s leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization, dedicated to the conservation, protection and restoration of trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. The organization has more than 130,000 members in 450 chapters in North America.
For more information: www.tu.org/ccf