FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 15, 2008
CONTACT: Erin Mooney, Trout Unlimited 703-284-9408
Trout Unlimited Calls for Changes to the Delaware River Flow Plan
Washington, D.C.—Trout Unlimited has completed an extensive review of the interim Flexible Flow Management Program (FFMP) for the Upper Delaware River and three Catskill reservoirs that provide drinking water to New York City. As a result, Trout Unlimited and its New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania councils have determined that while the concept behind the FFMP is indeed the best way to manage the river’s flows, the actual water release schedules in the plan will continue to damage the ecosystem of the Delaware River.
The interim flow plan was voted on in September by the Delaware River Basin Commission and would govern water releases from three New York City reservoirs in the Catskills—the Cannonsville, Pepacton and Neversink. These reservoirs provide drinking water to over five million New York City residents. New York City, New York state, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware all are parties to the legal agreement that governs the river’s flows.
“The water release schedules in the interim FFMP will continue to adversely affect the trout fisheries in the Upper Delaware’s main stem due to lethal rises in water temperatures and loss of habitat,” said Ken Undercoffer, Chair of the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited.
Over the past 10 years, actual New York City water diversions from its three Catskills reservoirs were only two-thirds of the amount that was used to model the water release schedules in the interim FFMP. This means that more water is available for environmental benefit downstream of the reservoirs.
“It is well documented that more than enough water exists within the Upper Delaware River watershed for healthy aquatic habitat and New York City’s drinking water,” said Ron Urban, Chair of the New York Council of Trout Unlimited.
Trout Unlimited calls for the following five changes to correct the current deficiencies of the FFMP: (1) an increase in water releases; (2) creation of more water release levels and seasons; (3) weekly averaging of the Montague flow target; (4) more balanced releases from the three reservoirs when required to meet the Montague flow target; and (5) a formal annual review of the FFMP. For a detailed explanation of the changes needed to the FFMP, go to www.tu.org/Delaware_River
“By implementing these changes to correct the deficiencies of the FFMP, the health of the Delaware River and its treasured trout fisheries will be significantly improved—and with no risk to New York City or any other Decree Party’s water supplies or rights,” said Rick Axt, Chair of the New Jersey Council of Trout Unlimited.
Trout Unlimited recognizes the extraordinary efforts that are necessary for the equitable apportionment and management of the Upper Delaware watershed. The organization also recognizes that management needs for these rivers will remain dynamic and require constant assessment.
“We support the concept of the FFMP and believe it is the right way to manage the Delaware River’s flows,” said Elizabeth Maclin, Trout Unlimited’s Vice President for Eastern Conservation. “But we need to secure more water within the release schedules to adequately sustain the Delaware’s trout fisheries.”