For many years Upper Delaware River conservation and business advocates have continually asserted that, most of the time, there is enough water in the NYC Delaware River basin reservoirs to satisfy the needs of all watershed stakeholders

Our position was further fortified when the NYC East-of-Hudson Croton water supply system in Bronx, NY came back on line in May 2015, after more than a decade of inactivity. The restored Croton system has the capacity to produce up to 290 million gallons of water a day. A modest percentage of this amount would be sufficient to offset the historic disproportionate reliance on the Delaware system for NYC water supply needs, and should make more water available for releases to the river below the dams.

Our patience, perseverance and hard work paid off this month. Reservoir managers have adjusted their estimated water supply needs from the Delaware system taking into consideration the contributions from the restored Croton system. These new estimations more accurately reflect actual usage and have significantly decreased NYC’s expected water supply diversions from the Delaware reservoirs.  As a result, there is a substantial  increase of available water in the reservoirs for downstream needs including the protection of the unique cold water ecosystem below the dams. This is tremendously heartening news for everybody who works so hard to protect the Delaware River!

Over the decades, negotiations surrounding the management of Delaware River basin water have become increasingly acrimonious and, at times, hostile. Rigidly entrenched positions and a perception of competing needs for a finite resource have cultivated a “dig in your heels” approach among the Decree Parties (NY, NJ, PA, DE, and NYC) who are charged with developing an effective management plan for the reservoirs and water releases. The result? A stalemate with virtually no changes in that plan for more than 5 years.

With more available water to work with, a reinvigorated conversation should commence immediately among all watershed stakeholders about how, and when, that water should be used to be most beneficial for multiple downstream needs.

Thanks to all of you who have dedicated so many hours of your precious time in defense of the Upper Delaware River. Your efforts have been rewarded. There is still much to be accomplished but this is monumentally important progress and creates an entire new playing field upon which to make further gains in protecting the river we all love so much!