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Presentation on reservoir releases scheduled

February 13, 2013

A presentation on a proposal to relieve thermal stress on the cold-water fisheries of the Upper Delaware will be made at the Tuesday, February 19 meeting of the Upper Delaware Council’s (UDC) Water Use and Resource Management Committee (WURM), 7 p.m. at 211 Bridge St. The public is welcome.

Although regular conservation releases from New York City’s reservoirs on the Upper Delaware have increased in recent years, there have still been repeated episodes of water temperatures above Callicoon far in excess of the 68 degrees Fahrenheit conservatively estimated to put trout under severe stress.

Columbia professor emeritus Peter Kolesar of New York City and Eldred and Jim Serio of Hancock have developed a statistical method for determining the precise amount of water that would need to be released and the timing of the water pulses to alleviate these episodes.

Their work includes predictions of water temperatures on the upper Main Stem based on weather service forecasts of local air temperatures, and on river flows and temperatures on previous days. The goal of the Kolesar and Serio plan is to allow the managers of the dams at Cannonsville and Pepacton to release waters with maximum efficiency to mitigate stress on the fisheries without interfering with the water supply to other Delaware River stakeholders.

The work to be presented at the WURM meeting has also been submitted to the Regulated Flows Advisory Committee of the Delaware River Basin Commission, with a request that a pilot program implementing this statistical work be adopted as part of next year’s flow management regime. Conservation groups including Friends of the Upper Delaware River, Trout Unlimited and Theodore Gordon Flyfishers support the proposal and are hoping to garner public support to encourage the Decree Parties to the 1954 US Supreme Court decision regarding the Delaware River to adopt it.

At the most recent meeting of the UDC on February 8, Andy Boyar, vice chair of the council and supervisor of the Town of Highland, urged his peers to attend the presentation by Kolesar and Serio so the members can make an informed decision when they are asked for their recommendation regarding the adoption of the plan.