Delaware • New Jersey • Pennsylvania
New York • United States of America
PLEASE NOTE: The DRBC's special public hearing on the draft resolution for the review of aquatic life uses in the Delaware River Estuary in recognition of improved water quality will take place at 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 6, 2017 at the West Trenton Volunteer Fire Company Hall, 40 West Upper Ferry Road, West Trenton, N.J. The special public hearing was originally scheduled for March 15, 2017, but was cancelled due to a winter storm and has been rescheduled.
February 23, 2017 - UPDATED March 23, 2017 with Rescheduled Special Hearing Date and Location
(West Trenton, N.J.) -- The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) today announced plans to take several actions to recognize improved water quality in the Delaware River Estuary and to formally review the designated aquatic life uses and water quality criteria necessary to support these uses in the estuary.
The plans are described in a proposed resolution which will be the subject of a special public hearing on April 6, 2017, where interested parties will have the opportunity to provide oral comments. The hearing, beginning at 2 p.m., will be held at the West Trenton Volunteer Fire Company Hall, 40 West Upper Ferry Road, West Trenton, N.J. The special public hearing was originally scheduled for March 15, 2017, but was cancelled due to a winter storm and has been re-scheduled. Written comments on the proposed resolution will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 13, 2017.
“The draft resolution recognizes that evidence supports further study on the inclusion of propagation of resident and migratory fish as a ‘designated use’ in a 38-mile section of the tidal Delaware River stretching from Wilmington, Del. to just above the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge connecting Philadelphia and New Jersey,” said DRBC Executive Director Steve Tambini. “The resolution would provide for additional studies to be undertaken in consultation with state and federal co-regulators as well as municipal and industrial dischargers.”
“In addition, the resolution affirms the goal of continued water quality improvement shared by the DRBC, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the estuary states of Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania,” added Tambini.
When the DRBC was created in 1961, little or no dissolved oxygen (DO) was present in the Delaware River from Wilmington to Philadelphia for periods of up to six months each year, preventing the survival of resident fish and movement of migratory fish through these waters to spawning areas.
Significant improvements in DO levels have occurred throughout this stretch of the tidal Delaware River since DRBC originally adopted designated uses and implemented related water quality criteria in 1967. This shared achievement has been the result of effective water management by DRBC, the federal government, and the four basin states, as well as substantial investment in treatment works by public entities and private industry.
“The proposed resolution, among other measures, calls for the DRBC to conduct an analysis to determine the attainability of DO criteria that would be required to support an upgrade in the designated use in this 38-mile stretch of the tidal Delaware River,” said Tambini. “This would be done in close collaboration with the four basin states, EPA, and the regulated community.”
In order to fulfill their obligation under the federal Clean Water Act to designate and protect uses for surface waters including the shared waters of the Delaware River Estuary, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania either apply DRBC water quality standards that they have jointly established or provide for application of the more stringent of state and DRBC standards within the basin.
The proposed resolution, additional information about the March 15 public hearing, and details describing how written comments can be submitted can be found on the commission’s web site at www.drbc.net. Once the comment period is closed, commission action on the proposed resolution can only occur at a future DRBC business meeting that is open to the public and for which the public has received the required advance notice.
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 and the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ North Atlantic Division, who represents the federal government.
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