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DRBC faces serious funding shortfall

April 18, 2012

“We are pulling out drought management plans,” Carol Collier, executive director of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) told members of the Upper Delaware Council (UDC) at their meeting on April 5. “We’ve received six inches of precipitation across the basin this year, which is about 4 inches below what it should be at this time.”

Impending drought conditions are not the only concern of the DRBC, which is facing serious budget shortfalls this year. When established as an interstate regulatory agency comprised of the four states in the Delaware River Basin (New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware) and the federal government, each state agreed to provide equitable apportionments of the DRBC’s operating budget.

According to Collier, the DRBC hasn’t received its federal funding except once, since 1996. And while both New Jersey and Delaware are at full funding levels, the remaining states are not. “New York State cut us down to 39% of our fair share budget,” said Collier. “And in January, Pennsylvania put a freeze on $400,000, which is 40% of our budget.”

In response, the UDC approved letters to New York Governor Cuomo and Pennsylvania Governor Corbett noting that New York’s 2012-13 budget includes a payment of $246,000 to the DRBC, approximately 40% of its full $626,000 share and a $109,000 reduction from last year. In Pennsylvania, a budgetary freeze of 40.7% ($400,000) of its Fiscal Year 2012 payment to the DRBC has been instituted and payments for the second and third quarter are outstanding. A 5% reduction of Pennsylvania’s
share is proposed in the fiscal year 2013 budget.

The letters point out that the cuts, in addition to the federal government’s longstanding cumulative DRBC funding shortfall that is now in excess of $9 million, seriously jeopardize the DRBC’s ability to function. “The cuts could have a devastating impact throughout the basin by threatening the continuation of vital, cooperative projects and partnerships sponsored or facilitated by the commission,” the UDC asserts.

Collier also detailed the water quality monitoring initiatives the agency is involved in. DRBC would like to do more macroinvertebrate studies in the region as well as expand main stem river monitors to include more tributaries.
The United States Geological Survey is conducting a nationwide water census and the Delaware River Basin is one of the pilot studies. “They are studying impacts to water supply in the basin,” said Collier. “Part of that is looking at climate change, which not only can create more intense storms for flooding, but also create more summer droughts.”

Disappointed but not surprised

Somehow I thought that the DRBC's role was to oversee the protection of the waters of the Delaware basin. Because the river and its tributaries flow through several states and jurisdictions, the protection has always been a challenge albeit one that has for the most part been met in spite of the multiple levels of governance that need to cooperate in order for this to happen.
The pro-drilling groups extoll how committed they are to safe-guarding the water resource. Yet it is the narrow and self-serving focus expressed in comments such as this that make this faction so much less believable.

Take a better look

When the DRBC was created, back in the Kennedy administration, there was a real need for someone to oversee the river and it's watershed. Since that time the states involved as well as the federal government have created specific agencies to protect all lands and waters, the USEPA, NJDEP, NYDEC, PADEP, DNREC . These were not in existence when the DRBC was formed so at that time it performed a very important mission. Today however it is nothing more than an overbearing bureaucracy which not only wastes taxpayer dollars, (the ones they still manage to collect)but now they have decided to take sides in a political issue where they have no business whatsoever. It is time to dissolve the DRBC and let the agencies who are charged with the protection of our environment take full control and stop making it harder and more expensive for not only businesses but also landowners to utilize their land!

Time to GO!

The DRBC has held up Natural Gas development in Wayne County, as well as other places, for too long. They have overstepped their authority and need to be put in their place. Starving them by withholding their funding is the simplest and most direct way to do that. I for one am all for seeing them become a part of history.
Goodbye Ms. Collier! :-)