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About DRBC
Managing, Protecting & Improving the Basin's Water Resources Since 1961
White House ceremonial signing of the Delaware River Basin Compact, Nov. 2, 1961. 
White House ceremonial signing of the Delaware River
Basin Compact, Nov. 2, 1961. 

A breakthrough in water resources management occurred in 1961 when President Kennedy and the governors of Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York for the first time signed concurrent compact legislation into law creating a regional body with the force of law to oversee a unified approach to managing a river system without regard to political boundaries.

The members of this regional body - the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) - include the four basin state governors and the Division Engineer, North Atlantic Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who serves as the federal representative.

When the DRBC was created, some 43 state agencies, 14 interstate agencies and 19 federal agencies exercised a multiplicity of splintered powers and duties within the watershed, which stretches 330 miles from the Delaware River's headwaters near Hancock, N. Y., to the mouth of the Delaware Bay.

The signing of the Delaware River Basin Compact (pdf) marked the first time since the nation's birth 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 members appoint alternate Commissioners, with the governors selecting high-ranking officials from their state environmental agencies. Each Commissioner has one vote of equal power, with a majority vote needed to decide most issues. Exceptions are votes to apportion among the signatory parties amounts required to support the current expense budget and votes to declare a state of emergency resulting from a drought or catastrophe, which require unanimity.

Commission programs include water quality protection, water supply allocation, regulatory review (permitting), water conservation initiatives, watershed planning, drought management, flood loss reduction and recreation.

The DRBC is funded by the signatory parties, project review fees, water use charges and fines, as well as federal, state and private grants. View DRBC Budget Information.

Annual elections are held for Commission chair, vice chair and second vice chair, based on a rotation of the five signatory parties. Federal Representative Brigadier General Thomas J. Tickner is currently serving as chair for the July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022 term. The other Commission members are Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf (vice chair), New Jersey Governor Philip D. Murphy (second vice chair), New York Governor Kathy Hochul and Delaware Governor John Carney.

The Commission holds business meetings and hearings on policy matters and water resource projects under regulatory review. These sessions, along with meetings of the Commission's various advisory committees, are open to the public.

The fact that five separate governmental bodies with their own sovereign powers can successfully work together on an equal footing in managing a common resource has caught the eye of other river managers not only in this country, but around the world. Commission representatives have been invited to Australia, Slovakia and Bulgaria to tell the DRBC story and offer assistance. Officials from those countries also visited the commission's offices in West Trenton, N.J., as have delegations from South Korea, the People's Republic of China, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Jordan, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey, Uganda, Uruguay, India and Japan, among others.

 

 

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