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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Friends of the Upper Delaware River


The Upper Delaware River trout fishery is again under serious threat despite high reservoir storage levels which are currently at 80% of capacity, with the Cannonsville reservoir over 70% capacity. The lack of adequate releases this summer for the fishery has resulted in a nearly full reservoir placing the entire upper Delaware River in eminent danger of floods, especially during this current hurricane season. On average, the Cannonsville reservoir has less than 50% capacity this time of the year.

The current Flexible Flow Management Program (FFMP), introduced on an interim basis on October 1st, 2007, has been a complete failure protecting the trout fishery. Temperatures rose to lethal proportions at the Lordville, NY USGS gage as early as June 11, 2008. The readings at Lordville often exceeded 75F degree instantaneous and 72F degree continuous, deadly for
trout. Continuous hot water temperatures continued through the summer due to the insufficient FFMP releases despite an abnormally cool summer temperature.

The situation more recent September is even worse. Releases on September 5th at Cannonsville went from 900 cfs to 100 cfs in a matter of hours (see chart attached). The FFMP schedule calls for a low 115 cfs release out of Cannonsville (400 - 600cfs constant flow is needed for a healthy fishery environment) in September and will further drop releases to 80 cfs in the West Branch October 1st, devastating for the spawning brown trout runs in the West Branch. Releases were also lowered for the Pepacton and Neversink Reservoirs with similar results.

These low releases come at a time when mandated releases directed out of Cannonsville can no longer be relied upon as new downriver power generating operations and recreational releases are counted toward the Montague flow requirements. FFMP is a dismal failure and will further deteriorate the mainstem of the river and further contribute to the disappearing rainbow trout population as well as endanger the entire area from floods.

FFMP is currently a temporary plan put in place by the Decree Parties on October 1st, 2007. This plan has the full support of NYC and will be made permanent pending approval of changes to the Water Code at the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) meeting September 24th, 2008. The approval to change the Water Code that legalizes FFMP will need a unanimous vote by all decree parties from NY, NJ, Delaware and Pennsylvania.

Please let your voices be heard before September 24th to all state and local Agencies (below) that include NJDEP; NYDEC, NYCDEP: PADEP; PA Fish & Boat Commission and the DRBC and tell them NO to any Water Code changes and NO to FFMP!