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Thursday, January 7, 2016

2015 American Shad Run on the Delaware River

The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission published their 2015 American shad run  findings on the Delaware River. It can be summed up as a ho-hum average run comprised of primarily younger age fish.

Young of the year surveys were decent, not great, but as it's called in the fisheries world, "sustainable".

I have a problem when using averages to determine the sustainability or heath of a fishery, and that's because averages change. Lower returns over the years will reduce the average leaving us to continually settle for fewer and fewer returning fish. They need to get the average out of the picture and replace it with available habitat and utilization of that habitat.

In the case of American shad, how much habitat is available for spawning and how that habitat is utilized is a far more important piece of data than counting heads at predetermined points. I do understand that's how it's always been done and that's the benchmark of comparison. But, if we continue to try and measure fishery health the same way as before while continuing to see diminished returns we can expect to continue to experience the same results of diminished fish returns.


More detailed info on the 2015 Delaware River Shad Monitoring can be found here: http://fishandboat.com/images/reports/2016bio/delaware-shad.pdf

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Regulated Flow Advisory Committee Moves Meeting to the Upper Delaware


The Delaware River Basin Commission Regulated Flow Advisory Committee (DRBC RFAC) is hosting a meeting in Hawley, PA on December 3, 2015. This meeting is of utmost importance to all river users, both recreationally and commercially. Decree Party members from New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and New York City will be there.

For more information visit the Friends of the Upper Delaware River or contact Jeff Skelding, FUDR Executive Director skelding@fudr.org

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Public Invited to Long Eddy Visioning Session


On September 28, 2015 the public is invited to the Long Eddy Hotel in Sullivan County, Long Eddy, New York to participate in a visioning session for the hamlet and the river access. Three opportunities are available to drop in and share your ideas on September 28th: 8am-10am, 12pm-2pm, and 6pm-8pm.

Buck Moorhead, architect and founding partner of Building Consensus for Sustainability, as well as representatives from the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, the Sullivan County Planning Department, and the New York DEC will be on hand to answer questions and guide the discussion.

Participants will be asked to consider what they would like to see in the hamlet of Long Eddy and in the river access; envision various possibilities to resolve current issues of parking and access to the river; and to share any concerns. Compilations of the discussions will be shared with the NYS DEC as they work on the design for the river access.

Nearly 100 people contributed more than $8,000 to help the Delaware Highlands Conservancy purchase the river access and turn it over to the NYS DEC to make improvements. Now, these organizations are seeking your input to help envision an economically productive and sustainable future for Long Eddy that is based on the shared goals of the residents that live there.

Advance registration is not required for the visioning sessions. If you are unable to attend and would like to share your ideas, please contact Heather Jacksy at the Sullivan County Planning Department at 845-807-0527 or by email at Heather.Jacksy@co.sullivan.ny.us, or, drop your drawings and/or narrative descriptions off at the Long Eddy Hotel at 7 Depot Street, Long Eddy, NY.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Normal Operations Resume at Cannonsville Reservoir on the West Branch of the Delaware River

As per the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, the turbid discharge has been successfully halted and the Cannonsville Dam remains safe and uncompromised

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that drinking water diversions and downstream releases from Cannonsville Reservoir will be reduced to normal levels beginning Sunday due to repair work that has successfully halted the turbid discharge below Cannonsville Dam. The decision to resume normal operations at the reservoir – made in consultation with engineers at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) – also comes after weeks of testing and around-the-clock monitoring that proved the dam is safe, stable and uncompromised by the cloudy seepage that began three weeks ago.

Intensive monitoring at the site will continue as DEP resumes normal operations at Cannonsville Reservoir. These efforts will include 24-hour observations by on-site staff and surveillance cameras, daily engineering inspections, and near real-time monitoring of turbidity and safety instruments inside Cannonsville Dam. Although DEP is resuming normal drinking water and release operations, reservoir storage will likely continue to decline because the amount of water naturally flowing into the reservoir is generally less than the amount of water released to the river during summer.

On Saturday engineers began pumping two additional relief wells, for a total of four, downstream of Cannonsville Dam. These relief wells have successfully tapped into the pressurized groundwater that was carrying sediment into the West Branch Delaware River. By giving water from that aquifer a new path to flow, the relief wells have ended the mobilization of sediment and the cloudy, or turbid, water. Geotechnical engineers will turn their attention next week to the original boreholes that entered the pressurized groundwater and caused the condition below the dam. The process of permanently sealing shut those boreholes with grout is expected to take approximately one week.

After receiving approval from FERC on Saturday afternoon, DEP began to shift toward normal operations early Sunday morning. The drinking water diversion from Cannonsville Reservoir will be reduced to zero, in favor of diverting more drinking water from Pepacton and Neversink reservoirs. This will begin to balance the storage in the Delaware Water Supply System, in accordance with normal water supply operations. DEP will also begin to slowly reduce the amount of water released into the West Branch Delaware River from 1,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 500 cfs, the normal rate outlined in the Flexible Flow Management Program. (Water is currently flowing into the reservoir at a rate of approximately 300 cfs.) DEP has consulted with fisheries biologists at the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to develop the following schedule for reducing the release over the next four days:

Aug. 2 – 1,125 cfs

Aug. 3 – 844 cfs

Aug. 4 – 633 cfs

Aug. 5 – 500 cfs

Reducing the rate of release will also significantly extend the life of the cold water inside Cannonsville Reservoir, which is important for the fisheries downstream and inside the reservoir itself. There was approximately 25 billion gallons of cold water in the reservoir as of Sunday morning.

DEP will continue to provide updates on its Cannonsville Reservoir page and its watershed Facebook page. The department also intends to schedule public information meetings toward the end of August to discuss the repairs that were made downstream of the dam. Local press outlets, elected officials, emergency managers, and residents who attended DEP’s previous outreach meetings will be notified directly when times, dates and locations are set.

Background

On July 15, DEP increased drinking water diversions and downstream releases from Cannonsville Reservoir in response to an ongoing turbid discharge from a rock embankment below Cannonsville Dam. While DEP, its regulators, and consulting engineers did not believe the condition represented a threat to dam safety, DEP began drawing down the reservoir out of an abundance of caution to prioritize public safety while repairs proceeded. Reducing reservoir storage at Cannonsville has not posed a risk to the city’s water supply.

The turbid flow below the dam was discovered when workers were drilling borings in preparation for design and construction of a hydroelectric facility that is planned to be built there. All drilling work ceased when the workers noticed the flow of turbid water coming from a rock embankment near the release chamber.

An investigation indicated that the drilling released ground water under natural pressure, known as an artesian condition, several dozen feet below surface level. This caused an upward flow of water and sediment that was reaching the West Branch Delaware River. Since then, DEP has continued intensive monitoring at the dam. These include 24-hour monitoring by employees at the site, regular analysis of dam-safety instrumentation, and testing of the turbid sediment to identify and understand its origin. Federal, state, county and local officials – including officials from New Jersey and Pennsylvania – have been regularly updated since the condition at Cannonsville Dam was first discovered.

Placed into service in 1964, Cannonsville Reservoir was the last of New York City’s 19 reservoirs to be built. Water diverted from Cannonsville Reservoir for drinking water enters the West Delaware Tunnel and travels 44 miles to the upper end of Rondout Reservoir. From there, it is carried in the 85-mile-long Delaware Aqueduct. Water is released downstream from Cannonsville Reservoir under the terms of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court Decree, and a flow program, known as the Flexible Flow Management Program, agreed upon by New York City and the states of Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. All other reservoirs in the city’s Delaware System have continued to meet their downstream release requirements under the Flexible Flow Management Program while the condition at Cannonsville is repaired.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

NYC Increases Reservoir Releases to Facilitate Repairs After Their Screw Up


The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today increased drinking water diversions and downstream releases from Cannonsville Reservoir to facilitate necessary repairs in response to an ongoing turbid discharge from a rock embankment below Cannonsville Dam.

DEP, its regulators, and consulting experts do not believe, but don't really know if the turbid flow represents any imminent threat to the safety of the dam. While repairs are made, DEP believes it is prudent to draw down the reservoir through increased releases out of an abundance of caution; reducing storage does not pose a risk to the city’s water supply. Except when the river's environmental health is concerned, the NYC believes they can't spare one drop.

The turbid flow below the dam was discovered when workers were drilling borings in preparation for design and construction of the future hydroelectric facility to be built there. During the drilling, workers noticed a flow of turbid water coming from a rock embankment near the release chamber. They immediately contacted DEP engineers and ceased all work.

A preliminary investigation indicated that the drilling released ground water under natural pressure several dozen feet below surface level, causing an upward flow of water and sediment that is reaching the West Branch Delaware River increasing turbidity to that already caused by a poorly managed reservoir.

Since then, DEP has met with its regulators, consulting engineers, and other experts to further investigate the condition, and to identify next steps for monitoring and repair. In addition to reducing storage at Cannonsville Reservoir, DEP is taking several steps to minimize any potential risks. These include 24-hour monitoring by employees at the site, regular analysis of dam-safety instrumentation, and testing of the turbid sediment to identify and understand its origin.

DEP is also working with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation on the design and implementation of repairs to stop the flow of water and sediment below Cannonsville Dam.

Federal, state, county and local officials – including officials from New Jersey and Pennsylvania – have been made aware of the condition at Cannonsville Dam. These officials will be updated as DEP continues to examine and address the flow condition. DEP also plans to host a series of public meetings to further inform downstream residents in the days and weeks ahead.  Details on those meetings will follow soon.

Placed into service in 1964, Cannonsville Reservoir was the last of New York City’s 19 reservoirs to be built. Water drawn from Cannonsville enters the West Delaware Tunnel and travels 44 miles to the upper end of Rondout Reservoir. From there, it is carried in the 85-mile-long Delaware Aqueduct. Water is released from Cannonsville Reservoir under the terms of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court Decree, and a flow program, known as the Flexible Flow Management Program and the NYC OST Program which doesn't work as proven by this seasons flow regime, agreed upon by New York City and the states of Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. All other reservoirs in the city’s Delaware System will continue to meet their downstream release requirements under the Flexible Flow Management Program while the condition at Cannonsville is investigated and repaired.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Statement of Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner Paul Rush on Extension of Flexible Flow Management Program


“New York City believes that adjustments to the current Flexible Flow Management Program (FFMP) could improve spill mitigation efforts, formalize a thermal relief protocol for fisheries, and support responsible water supply management for all the cities and towns that depend on the Delaware River and its headwaters. While there has been progress on some of these issues, an additional year under the current program will give the Decree Parties the time necessary to continue negotiating these complex and important issues, using sound science as our guide. DEP will also continue to use its Operations Support Tool to ensure we are releasing and diverting water responsibly from the city’s reservoirs. We hope that a more long-lasting program, accounting for the needs of water suppliers and downstream interests, can be developed and agreed upon by this time next year.”

For more information about the Flexible Flow Management Program, please see information from the Office of the Delaware River Master website by clicking here.

DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing more than one billion gallons of high quality water each day to more than 9 million New Yorkers. This includes more than 70 upstate communities and institutions in Ulster, Orange, Putnam and Westchester counties who consume an average of 110 million total gallons of drinking water daily from New York City’s water supply system. This water comes from the Catskill, Delaware, and Croton watersheds that extend more than 125 miles from the City, and the system comprises 19 reservoirs, three controlled lakes, and numerous tunnels and aqueducts. DEP has nearly 6,000 employees, including almost 1,000 scientists, engineers, surveyors, watershed maintainers and other professionals in the upstate watershed. In addition to its $68 million payroll and $157 million in annual taxes paid in upstate counties, DEP has invested more than $1.7 billion in watershed protection programs—including partnership organizations such as the Catskill Watershed Corporation and the Watershed Agricultural Council—that support sustainable farming practices, environmentally sensitive economic development, and local economic opportunity. In addition, DEP has a robust capital program with over $14 billion in investments planned over the next 10 years that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year. For more information, visit nyc.gov/dep, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Upper Delaware River is Taking Heat

The Upper Delaware River is Taking Heat Again-Please Take Action!

The Upper Delaware River is heating up again this week with warming air temperatures and low river flows that are likely to threaten the cold water ecosystem and the regional businesses that rely on a healthy river. It's time to let key decision makers in NY State, NYC, PA, NJ, and DE know that a little more water goes a long way in these situations and that's what we need immediately in the Upper Delaware River watershed.

Please contact the following people and urge them to tap into reserve water supplies from the Delaware reservoirs to take the heat off the river and protect the economic and environmental health of a very special place that offers premiere recreational opportunities to visitors from all over the world.

Paul Rush (NYCDEP) prush@dep.nyc.gov ph:845-334-7107
Thom Murphy (NYCDEP) tmurphy@dep.nyc.gov ph: 914-742-2006
Mark Klotz (NYSDEC) maklotz@gw.dec.state.ny.us ph:518-402-8233
Fred Hensen (NYSDEC) fghenson@gw.dec.state.ny.us ph: 518-402-8901
Mark Hartle (PAFBC) mhartle@pa.gov ph: 814-359-5133
Kelly Heffner (PADEP) kheffner@pa.gov ph: (717) 783-2300
Hoss Liaghat (PADEP) aliaghat@pa.gov ph: (717) 783-2300
Dan Kennedy (NJDEP) Dan.Kennedy@dep.nj.gov ph: 609-292-4543
David Wunsch (UDEL) dwunsch@udel.edu ph: 302-831-8258