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December 11, 2016
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Wading into the weeds; Addressing the Flexible Flow Management Plan

Professor Peter Kolesar addresses the decree parties regarding reservoir releases and the Delaware River.
Contributed photo

Professor Peter Kolesar and his research partner Jim Serio conducted extensive research on which the FFMP was initially based. The current plan is called FFMP-OST, the second part of which stands for Operation Support Tool, a tool that was developed for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) by a consultant.

During his remarks at the listening session, Kolesar said he and Serio had developed a thermal stress protocol that could relieve heat stress on trout in the summer in the Main Stem of the river above Lordville. He and others said this could be done without risking the water supply of New York City and other municipalities, but his proposal had been rejected by the decree parties without comment.

Kolesar also criticized the DEP for not sharing the algorithm at the heart of the OST. He said the FFMP-OST is a “non-transparent, black box algorithm which is not fully understood, specified, or documented by the DRBC or by the decree parties, with the possible exception of New York City… and certainly not by interested outside stakeholders.”

He also found fault with the agencies responsible for environmental conservation in “several states” who should be interested in protecting the trout but who instead, “have been remarkably passive on the issue of summertime thermal relief. This should be a prime mission for them; their leadership is sorely needed.”

At this meeting, about seven people addressed the decree parties, and all of them said the issue of trout and thermal stress should be addressed as the next version of the FFMP is crafted.

Tony Ritter, a fishing guide and council member of the Town of Tusten, asked why for the 48 hours preceding the listening session the release from the Cannonsville Reservoir was near 1,000 cubic feet per second, when that same amount of water could have been released in July and August when it could have helped ensure the health of the trout.

Ritter said, “The Upper Delaware River is already one of the best, tail water, wild trout rivers in the eastern United States in the spring and also in the fall, when the air temperature is cool. It has the potential to be even better in the summer months.”

None of the decree party representatives commented.

A new FFMP may be adopted next year.

[Kolesar is also a photographer. A show including his stylized fish portraits is opening at The Stray Cat Gallery in Bethel this weekend. See page 27.]