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|Home > Cooperative Interstate Water Management||April 11, 2016|
50 Years of Cooperative Interstate Water Management in the Delaware River Basin
Managing Water for New York City, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware
June 7, 2004, is the 50th anniversary of the Amended Decree of the United States Supreme Court that established the current allocation of water from the Delaware River Basin to New York City, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
As part of that historic decree, entered on June 7, 1954, the U.S. Geological Survey was designated as the home of a new position: the Delaware River Master. The USGS was selected because of its long history--now 125 years--as a non-regulatory, unbiased, and impartial scientific agency that provides data, information, and knowledge about the Earth and its resources, processes, and hazards so that others can make decisions and set policy. The Delaware River Master is responsible for administering the provisions of the Decree, through the use of timely and accurate information on basin water resources.
Successful Water-Resource Management through Effective Cooperation
Water Management Preceding the Delaware River Master
New York City eventually realized that the 440 mgd allocation would be insufficient to meet expanding water needs and, in 1952, filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to increase its diversion of Delaware River Basin water to 800 mgd. An Amended Decree was entered on June 7, 1954, stipulating a new diversion rate of 800 mgd for New York City, contingent upon the City making compensating releases downstream to meet a Decree-defined flow objective on the Delaware River at Montague, NJ. In addition, the 1954 Decree granted New Jersey the right to divert up to 100 mgd from the Delaware River Basin without compensating releases.
Standing the Test of Time
In return for New York City being able to divert 800 million gallons per day from the Delaware River Basin, the City is required to release enough water from its upper-basin reservoirs--Neversink, Pepacton, and Cannonsville--to ensure the river flow is adequate for the needs and health of downstream communities and ecosystems. So how do you know if the flow is "adequate"? You know, based on long-term monitoring of the Delaware River at Montague, NJ, that you need to meet a "flow objective" of 1,750 cubic feet per second (one cubic foot of water flowing each second is equal to about 7.48 gallons) as measured by the USGS streamflow-gaging station at that location.
The USGS maintains more than 7,000 streamflow-gaging stations nationwide, many in cooperation with other Federal, State, and local agencies, which keep tabs on the flow of the nation’s rivers and streams. This information is essential for achieving compliance with legally mandated flow requirements, and it is used to safeguard lives and property and ensure adequate water resources for a healthy environment and a vibrant economy. The USGS gage at Montague has been in operation since 1939 and serves as one of the essential gages in the National Streamflow Information Program in meeting the Federal goal for interstate waters.
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