Link to USGS home

Office of the Delaware River Master (ODRM)

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Gary Paulachok, Deputy Delaware River Master, (570) 296-7213

DECREE PARTIES ANNOUNCE CHANGES TO THE FLEXIBLE FLOW MANAGEMENT PROGRAM 
TO IMPROVE HABITAT PROTECTION IN SUMMER 2009

MILFORD, Pa. (June 1) – In a continuing effort to improve the habitat 
downstream of the New York City (NYC)-Delaware Basin reservoirs, New 
York State, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and the City of New York 
(Decree Parties) today announced two agreements to revise reservoir 
operations based upon the December 10, 2008 Flexible Flow Management 
Program (FFMP).

The first agreement, in effect through May 2010 only, is designed to 
provide additional habitat for trout in the West Branch of the Delaware 
River by increasing cold water releases from NYC’s Cannonsville 
Reservoir during the summer 2009 period from June 1 through August 31. 
The additional cold water will also benefit the Upper Delaware River 
main stem. Cold water released from the bottom of the reservoir will 
help the renowned trout fishery by reducing thermal stress caused by the 
summer’s warmer temperatures. Absent prolonged drought conditions, the 
agreement increases the base Cannonsville release by up to 25 percent to 
325 cubic feet per second for most of the summer. It also reserves a 
quantity of water in an “Extraordinary Needs Bank” to be available to be 
used by the Decree Parties for unforeseen needs. The agreement resulted 
from the recommendations of state fishery experts and a review of the 
2008 operations of the FFMP.

The second agreement will serve to reduce storage zone bouncing, an 
effect that results in rapid increases and decreases in the reservoir 
discharge mitigation release rates, (known as the yo-yo effect) by 
allowing NYC operational flexibilities to better manage release rate 
transitions during rapidly fluctuating reservoir storage levels. During 
certain periods of the year, the reservoir levels are more subject to 
increases and decreases around the trigger points that can result in 
excessive bouncing between storage zones and release rates. In the 
spring and fall, changes in releases are more substantial and rapid 
fluctuations are generally something that fishery experts would prefer 
to avoid as they can be detrimental to river habitat. This is an 
amendment to the FFMP which provides NYC with the flexibility, in 
cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental 
Conservation, to modify releases to avoid unreasonable fluctuations in 
releases.

Both agreements revise operations in accordance with the FFMP agreement 
that governs NYC-Delaware Basin reservoir diversions and releases under 
the terms of the 1983 Good Faith Agreement The FFMP, which was 
originally adopted in September 2007 and amended in December 2008, is an 
adaptive and collaborative approach by the five Decree Parties. An 
advantage of the FFMP is the ability of the Decree Parties to make 
adjustments as either new information is presented or as scientific 
understanding improves or meteorological or environmental conditions 
warrant.

These two changes announced today are another demonstration of the 
adaptable approach embodied in the FFMP concept. Among other things, the 
FFMP is designed to provide safe and reliable supplies of water 
essential to serve the needs of the 15 million people who get their 
water supply from the Delaware River Basin, which also supports a 
diverse wildlife habitat. These amendments to the FFMP will enhance the 
balance needed to protect this vibrant recreational fishing resource 
during the warm summer months, while still protecting the water supply 
so vital to the public and our economy.

The FFMP and its associated agreements may be accessed at the U.S. 
Geological Survey Office of the Delaware River Master web site, 
http://water.usgs.gov/osw/odrm/.

# # #
2009

Biology | Geology | Geography | Water

Contact us using our online form for feedback and questions