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Christie Playing Politics with Water Instead of Protecting It

Date : Mon, 4 Jun 2012 11:09:20 -0400

Protecting It

For Immediate Release
Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100 May 31, 2012

Christie Playing Politics with Water Instead of Protecting It

Delaware RiverDeal Today the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) announced a one year extension of the current agreement with New York City to increase the flow of water into the Delaware River from the city's reservoirs.The four states in the Basin, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, and the City unanimously agreed to the deal.The plan focuses on increasing the amount of water available in the Delaware River for water supply intakes, to prevent flooding, and maintain aquatic habitat.But this plan does not protect our water quality or prevent flooding.

"This plan does not do what it is supposed to do.It does not prevent flooding, it does not prevent salt water intrusion to protect our salt water intakes, and the DRBC has not protected us from the impacts of fracking," said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club. New York City reservoirs were not designed for flood control but for water supply and to maintain summer flows in the Delaware River.Leaving large voids (less water) in the reservoir system will have significant impacts on water quality and quantity in drought years.New York City is dumping tens of thousands of gallons into the river when not needed, impacting the availability of water in the summer to maintain passing flows.Over time this agreement will increase pollution and allow the salt water line to move north threatening Philadelphia and New Jersey's water supply intakes. Lowering reservoir levels does not prevent flooding in the Basin. Virtually all our storms come from the southwest and head to northeast.There will be heavy rains on tributaries that flood well before the reservoirs receive those heavy rains.Water from those reservoirs takes three days to reach places like New Hope and Lambertville, well after the storm event is over.The area above the New York City reservoirs only account for 14% of the River's drainage basin.The area is mostly forested, absorbing the excess water and having very little impact on downstream flooding. Most of the major flooding comes from overdevelopment on major tributaries below the New York City reservoirs, the same areas targeted for fracking.

"Instead of protecting the river and maintaining proper flows, New Jersey is pandering to people who do not care about water supply or actually protecting river.If New Jersey and the DRBC really wanted to protect us from flooding they would limit development and impervious cover and establish stream buffers to keep people out of harms way," said Jeff Tittel. Flows will be measured using flexible flows which allow for averages instead of stronger pass by flows which have a strong standard that has to be met everyday.Using the flexible flow standard risks water quality because using averages could allow increased concentrations of pollution and the salt water line to move.If the salt line moves north this will impact water supply intakes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The Basin could also be opened to natural gas drilling.The DRBC has drafted rules to allow the use of hydraulic fracturing or fracking in the Basin. The Commission was set to vote on the rules in November, but their adoption was delayed when Delaware came out in opposition to the rules. New Jersey is downstream from all the possible pollution that results from fracking in the Upper Delaware, affecting the drinking water for approximately 3 million New Jersey residents.The state would also see more floods impacting communities from the clearing of tens of thousands of acres of forests for drilling.

"Governor Christie should be protecting New Jerseyans and our drinking water from the dangers of fracking.If we had major spills of toxic fracking chemicals in the Delaware River, it would not matter what the flow level of the River was because the water quality and aquatic ecosystem would be destroyed," said Jeff Tittel. "If Governor Christie truly wanted to protect the River he would be vocally opposing fracking and its impacts on the Basin and the water quality for New Jersey residents." Additionally, these flows do not look at the depletive use that will be resulting from fracking as billions of gallons of water are extracted from the Delaware.There could be drops in aquifer levels and lower base flows.Loss of forest cover in the Basin will result in more flooding and less aquifer recharge, therefore less flows in the summertime. New York City has said they will not make up for any loss of flows resulting fromfracking by releasing water from its reservoir system. Whatever water we lose from fracking will not be compensated with additional flows, resulting in decreased base flow. The agreement allows New Jersey to increase flows to the Delaware and Raritan Canal during drought.Under the agreement, New Jersey can divert an additional 15 million gallons of water.

"The administration is increasing water availability in the Canal, but who is going to want to drink that water once it is contaminated with toxic fracking chemicals?" said Jeff Tittel."Is the glass half empty of hall full?It doesn't matter because of fracking you wouldn't want to drink it."

-- 
Kate Millsaps
Program Assistant
NJ Chapter of the Sierra Club
609-656-7612
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Received on 2012-06-04 08:09:20

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
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