DRBC Background

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) was formed by Compact in 1961 through legislation signed into law by President John F. Kennedy and the governors of the four states with land drained by the Delaware River -- Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

The DRBC's creation was the first time in our nation's history that the federal government and a group of states joined together as equal partners on a regional body with the force of law to oversee a unified approach to managing a river system without regard to political boundaries.

The creation of the Commission changed the Delaware Valley from an area of conflict to a model of federal-state cooperation, as the Commission serves federal, state and local interests by providing comprehensive, proactive water resources management for the 13,539-square-mile Delaware River Basin.  

DRBC programs include water quality protection, water supply allocation, flood loss reduction, drought management, water conservation, permitting, watershed planning and recreation.

How is the DRBC Funded?

The DRBC operates and maintains two funds for budgeting purposes:

  • General Operating Fund

  • Water Supply Storage Facilities Fund (WSSF)

General Operating Fund

The DRBC's General Operating Fund includes all revenue and expenses required for the agency's operations and maintenance. General Fund sources include:

  • Signatory Parties

  • Regulatory Program Fees

  • Compliance Revenue

  • Competitive Grants

  • Transfers from the WSSF

Water Supply Storage Facilities Fund (WSSF)

The Water Supply Storage Facilities Fund was created to support reliable water supply in the Basin and is used to repay obligations the DRBC assumed to purchase storage capacity at two federal reservoirs, Beltzville and Blue Marsh. The WSSF also supports DRBC's pro rata share of the annual operations and maintenance costs of the two reservoirs, the water supply share of any future required improvements at these two facilities, a share of DRBC operating costs to support a sustainable water supply within the Basin (transfers to the General Operating Fund) and any future required storage in the Basin. Revenues are generated from charges for applicable surface water withdrawals in the Basin.

Signatory Party Funding

Signatory Party Funding

The 100-year Compact creating the DRBC (Public Law 87-328, Section 13.3c) stipulates that the five signatory parties agree to support the Commission's annual current expense budget:

"The respective signatory parties covenant and agree to include the amounts so apportioned for the support of the current expense budget in their respective budgets next to be adopted, subject to such review and approval as may be required by their respective budgetary processes."

In 1988, the Commission members reached a tacit agreement to apportion signatory party contributions as follows:

  • Delaware: 12.5%

  • New York: 17.5%

  • New Jersey: 25%

  • Pennsylvania: 25% 

  • United States: 20%

These percentages currently amount to:

  • Delaware: $447,000 - from "Commission on Interstate Cooperation" in the Legislative budget

  • New York: $626,000 - from "NYSDEC—Capital Projects" in the Legislative budget

  • New Jersey: $893,000 - from "Independent Commissions" in the Governor's budget

  • Pennsylvania: $893,000 - from "Independent Commissions" in the Governor's budget

  • United States: $715,000 - from the United States Army Corps of Engineers' budget

The DRBC fiscal year runs from July 1 - June 30, as does Delaware's, New Jersey's and Pennsylvania's. New York's is April 1 - March 31. The federal fiscal year runs from October 1 - September 30.

Signatory Funding Shortfalls

Despite the contributions being obligatory and agreed upon, the DRBC's signatory funding has slowly eroded over time.

The largest, cumulative signatory funding shortfall comes from the federal government. From 1996 through 2023, the federal government has only provided funding to support its 20% "fair share" of the DRBC's annual current expense budget during two federal fiscal years (federal FY 2009 and federal FY 2023). Since October 1996, the cumulative federal funding shortfall totals $17,144,250.

In 2014, President Obama signed into law the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA), P.L. 113-121, which received the overwhelming support of Congress. Section 4001 of WRRDA (pdf) directs the Secretary of the Army to allocate funds to the DRBC to fulfill the equitable funding requirements of its interstate compact. WRRDA further stipulates that if this directive is not followed, the Secretary must inform the appropriate House and Senate committees why funds were not allocated and also explain the impact of that decision with respect to nine listed areas of jurisdiction (such as water supply allocation, water quality protection and flood loss reduction). While WRRDA is an authorizing bill and not an appropriations bill, its clear and direct language was an encouraging development to the ongoing efforts to restore federal signatory member funding support of the Commission's operating budget as required by the compact.

Despite the specific language in WRRDA 2014, the federal government did not allocate funds to support the DRBC's budget from 2014 until the end of 2022.

Federal Funding: Fiscal Year 2023

In December 2022 (in federal fiscal year 2023), U.S. Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) secured community project funding for the DRBC in the amount of $715,000; this fulfills the federal signatory funding authorized in its founding Compact. Learn more.

DRBC Budget: Fiscal Year 2024 (July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024)

The DRBC's FY24 Budget was the subject of a public hearing held on May 10, 2023.

At the 2Q DRBC Business Meeting held June 7, 2023, the Commissioners unanimously approved DRBC's current expense budget of $8,049,200 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2024.

It calls for the following signatory member contributions totaling $3,307,500: New Jersey $893,000, Delaware $447,000, Pennsylvania $893,000, New York $359,500 and the United States $715,000. The Commission at its June 7, 2023, business meeting also unanimously approved the DRBC capital budget (Water Supply Storage Facilities Fund) reflecting revenues of $3,839,900 and expenditures of $6,163,800.

DRBC Audit Information

The DRBC's financial records are independently audited annually as required by the Delaware River Basin Compact.

In November 2018, the Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General released its Performance Audit Report of the DRBC, mandated by legislation passed by the Pa. General Assembly in 2017.