DRBC Announces Start of Basin-Wide Reservoir Storage Study
Feasibility Study to Review Freshwater Storage Options to Meet Drought and Climate Adaptation Needs in Delaware River Basin
WEST TRENTON, N.J. (April 14) — Today, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) announced the start of a Basin-wide study to explore the feasibility of additional freshwater storage to meet future water availability, climate adaptation, drought management and flow management needs. Mott MacDonald was selected through a competitive process to perform the required planning and engineering services to support DRBC staff.
“The Delaware River Basin Compact authorizes the DRBC to conduct and sponsor research on the Basin’s water resources, specific to their use, planning, conservation and protection,” said DRBC Executive Director Steve Tambini, P.E. “DRBC’s water resource management programs ensure that we plan for water security in the Basin, now and into the future.”
In addition to the traditional water resource planning drivers to address designated uses such as recreation, public water supply, industry, agriculture and aquatic habitat, we know the water resources of the Basin will be impacted by climate change. The Basin is expected to experience changes in the seasonality and volume of streamflows. The Delaware River is subject to tidal influence below Trenton, N.J./Morrisville, Pa., and, as such, sea level rise will impact the location of the salt front in the Delaware River Estuary. The availability of adequate freshwater storage is critical to manage complex water needs including the management of salinity in the Estuary.
“The DRBC Commissioners and staff understand that water security for the Basin requires: water availability, water resiliency, clean water and water equity. Having adequate freshwater storage now and in the future supports all water security objectives.” Tambini said. “This first-step inventory and feasibility study of additional freshwater storage complements other studies by DRBC and its member states.”
This study also complements the ongoing F.E. Walter Re-evaluation Study, being led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with DRBC as one of the non-federal sponsors. The DRBC has publicly supported maintaining and protecting the existing uses of the F.E. Walter Reservoir for flood risk management and recreation and has affirmed and recognized the value of the existing uses to the region and to the Basin.
In July 2019, the DRBC published a Request for Qualifications for an engineering consultant to perform the study. The DRBC Commissioners approved a Resolution for the Minutes in March 2020 authorizing the study to proceed. In January 2021, the consulting firm Mott MacDonald was chosen. Funding for this study, which will take about 18 months, comes from the Commission’s Water Supply Storage Facilities Fund.
The DRBC is an interstate-federal government agency created in 1961 by concurrent compact legislation, marking the first time that the federal government and a group of states joined together as equal partners in a river basin planning, development and regulatory agency. The five Commission members are the governors of the basin states (Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania) and the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ North Atlantic Division, who represents the federal government.
Mott MacDonald is a global engineering, management, and development consultancy. To learn more about Mott MacDonald, please visit www.mottmac.com/en-US/about-us.