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Request to NYC: Reconsider reservoirs release policy

June 19, 2013

As documented in The River Reporter, during his appearance at the Upper Delaware Council (UDC) on June 12, Thomas Murphy of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the agency that owns and operates New York City’s dams on the headwaters of the Delaware, contended that “the city has never thought there is enough water to thermally maintain the main stem,” [of the Delaware River], and that “there’s only so much water to go around.”

The statistical analysis that underlies the thermal relief proposal that Jim Serio of Hancock, NY and I developed clearly demonstrates the opposite. Records of reservoir levels over the past five years, the city’s own routine estimates of water availability, and the records maintained by the River Master of the utilization of the Interim Excess Release Quantity (IERQ), as well as the many river simulations we have carried out over recent years, all demonstrate that there is indeed “enough water to go around” in order to protect the wild trout of the upper main stem from severe thermal stress.

The wild rainbow trout fishery in the upper main stem is not only a local, but is indeed a national treasure that deserves prudent management and protection. The failure of the New York City DEP and, indeed, of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to recognize their environmental responsibilities with regard to the main stem of the Delaware is appalling. Our thermal relief proposal, which was supported by a broad coalition of environmental organizations as well as by the UDC, has been rejected without reason by those who set Delaware River water policy. This modest and scientifically based proposal is an opportunity for enhancement of the upper river that must be reconsidered.

Peter Kolesar
Eldred, NY