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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Delaware River Reservoir Releases Increased Due To Snow

New York City Increases Reservoir Releases to Accommodate Record Snow Pack in Upper Delaware River Basin, Reduce Flood Risk Downstream

HARRISBURG -- Pennsylvania Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger said today that New York City has stepped up the amount of water it releases from its reservoirs to reduce the threat of flooding from the historic snow pack throughout the upper Delaware River basin.

This action is one of several new flood-mitigation measures established under a cooperative agreement between New York City and states along the Delaware River. The city controls several large reservoirs in the headwaters of the basin that can affect water levels on the main stem of the river.

“The record-setting snows of February have deposited snow pack amounts up to three times the average in the upper Delaware River basin, creating the potential for flooding along the river in the event of a rapid snowmelt,” Hanger said.

To put it in perspective, the upper basin typically contains 60 billion gallons of snowpack water at this time of year, but recent snowstorms have tripled the water content in the region’s snowpack to an estimated 175 billion gallons.

“To lessen the threat to downstream lives and property, New York City is releasing the maximum amount of water allowed under the Flexible Flow Management Plan to increase the storage capacity in their reservoirs,” said Hanger. “This is the sort of cooperation we hoped for when we created this multi-state agreement to manage water levels along the Delaware, and I applaud the New York City officials for their quick action.”

The Flexible Flow Management Plan for New York City’s reservoirs was adopted in 2007 following major flooding along the Delaware River and is the first operating plan for the reservoirs to include flood mitigation principles, as well as public water supply and in-stream habitat protection. New York City has agreed to operate their reservoirs to provide a measure of flood control for the main stem of the river while ensuring that the city has sufficient water to meet its needs.