Delaware • New Jersey • Pennsylvania
New York • United States of America
For Immediate Release May 20, 2013
For Immediate Release
May 20, 2013
(WEST TRENTON, N.J.) -- The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) today announced that the U.S. Senate on May 15 passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2013 (WRDA) by a 83-14 vote that included a provision directing the federal government to pay its share of the commission's annual budget. The bill, S. 601, must still be approved by the House of Representatives.
"We are very grateful to Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons for the leadership roles they played in securing this important DRBC funding language in the WRDA bill," DRBC Executive Director Carol R. Collier said. "The legislative process is still far from over, but we are very encouraged by the actions taken by the Senate."
The amendment advanced by Senators Carper and Coons (both D-Del.), which was included in the final legislation by unanimous consent, was cosponsored by Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez (both D-N.J.), and Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand (both D-N.Y.).
"We also would like to thank the five amendment cosponsors and the other legislators in the Senate and House who favor federal funding restoration, as well as the many individuals and organizations who have written letters and voiced their support of the commission," Collier said.
The federal government, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania agreed to support the DRBC's annual budget when President Kennedy and the four governors signed into law the compact creating the commission in 1961. However, the federal government has ignored this agreement by failing to fund its 20 percent "fair share" of the DRBC's annual budget in 16 of the last 17 years while remaining an active voting commission member possessing the same powers and authority as the other signatory parties. The cumulative federal shortfall since 1996 is nearly $11 million, or almost double the size of the annual DRBC current expense budget.
"Many experts agree that river basin commissions like DRBC are the most effective and efficient way to manage interstate water resources," Collier said. "Sadly, the future of the DRBC is in serious jeopardy due to the unsustainable fiscal situation created by federal funding inaction and the ripple effect it is now having on contributions by our member states."
The Carper-Coons amendment directs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to annually allocate funds from its general expenses to the DRBC, Susquehanna River Basin Commission, and the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin to cover the equitable funding requirement of each congressionally approved compact. If funding is not provided in a fiscal year, the amendment requires the Army Corps to provide a report to Congress explaining the reason for the lack of funds and the impact on water supply allocation, water quality protection, water conservation, drought management, flood loss reduction, and recreation.
The DRBC is a federal/interstate government agency responsible for managing the water resources within the 13,539 square-mile Delaware River Basin without regard to political boundaries. The five commission members are the governors of the basin states (Del., N.J., N.Y., and Pa.) and the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' North Atlantic Division, who represents the federal government.
Contact: Clarke Rupert, DRBC, 609-883-9500 ext. 260, firstname.lastname@example.org