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Delaware River drought watch is over


The drought watch is over — at least for the Delaware River — the Delaware River Basin Commission announced today, January 18. The river was placed on drought watch on Nov. 23, 2016.

“Due to recent precipitation and snow melt, combined storage in three large upper basin reservoirs has achieved and sustained a sufficient level for five consecutive days to result in automatic termination of the basinwide drought watch,” said DRBC Executive Director Steve Tambini in a press release.

Since dry conditions persist around the watershed, Tambini urged all water users to continue to use water carefully, especially in areas where a state-declared drought is in effect. (Individual states determine their own drought situation and that can vary from state to state and county to county.)

The basis for the drought watch is how much water there is in the three New York City reservoirs that are part of the Delaware River system: Pepacton, Cannonsville, and Neversink. The combined storage in these three reservoirs had been as low as 39.3% of capacity. Today the reservoirs are at 58% of capacity according to the press release from the DRBC announcing the end of the drought watch.

The DRBC's primary drought management objective is to insure adequate water supply, and also to insure there is sufficient flow in the lower river to repel the salt line from traveling near Philadelphia's water intake from the Delaware.

“Cooperation from the states, from New York City, and from water users and managers has been effective during the basinwide drought watch period,” said Tambini.  “Although recent trends in storage volume and the location of the salt front have been positive and DRBC is required to move from ‘drought watch’ status back to ‘normal’ status, the volume of water in the reservoirs and other indicators suggest additional cooperation and water efficiency are still needed.”


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