By Peter Becker
The Upper Delaware Council (UDC), March 7, approved and endorsement of a plan to predict water temperature in the main stem of the Upper Delaware River. Such information is meant to assist those who control the reservoir dams to release water more efficiently and beneficially for aquatic life and fishing.
Termed the "Lordville Thermal Stress Relief Protocol," the plan has received support from river users and stakeholders, and the Delaware River Conservation Coalition which includes Friends of the Upper Delaware River, Trout Unlimited and other groups.
Consequent to UDC’s endorsement, the Council now urges the protocol to be adopted by the Decree Parties to the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding the Delaware River. Furthermore, the UDC asks that a copy of this resolution be submitted to the Regulated Flows Advisory Committee. This includes a request that a pilot program implementing this protocol be adopted as part of next year’s flow management regime, and that the flow management regime be adopted for one year only.
The committee is part of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC).
The protocol includes predictions of water temperatures on the upper Main Stem based on weather service forecasts of local air temperatures, and on river flows and temperatures on previous days. The plan is designed to allow the managers of the dams at Cannonsville and Pepacton to release waters with maximum efficiency to mitigate stress on the fisheries, without interfering with the water supply to other Delaware River stakeholders.
The Cannonsville, on the West Branch of the Delaware above Hancock, NY, and the Pepacton, on the East Branch, are part of the City of New York’s water supply system. Delicately balancing the City’s needs for the water and the impact of releases into the Delaware have been an ongoing discussion of the UDC and other concerned parties for many years.
Part of the Congressional mandate given to the 25-year old UDC in its oversight of the River Management Plan is advocating flow releases adequate to protect or improve water quality and aquatic ecosystems. The guiding mission of the UDC is to conserve and enhance the values that qualified the Upper Delaware as a "Scenic and Recreational River."
Like many agencies across the country relying on federal dollars, the UDC is braced to feel the effects of automatic budget cuts from sequestration, which took affect March 1st.
The UDC, which has dealt with an annual budget frozen at $300,000 a year since its inception in 1988, despite rising costs and demands, received word that they well get 5 percent less.
This year, FY 2013, they received $255,000, due to an advance payment arranged last year of $45,000. The impending 5 percent cut therefore totals $12,750. Belt-tightening at the UDC is expected to include eliminating a $10,000 line item for capital expenditures and cutting the remaining $2,750 from discretionary overhead items from office supplies to membership fees.
" It's very difficult for a non-profit organization like ours to be assessed an arbitrary budget cut in the middle of our fiscal year which runs from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1," said Laurie Ramie, Executive Director. "Our goal is to minimize negative impacts to the UDC's existing programs and services."
The five percent cut is expected to be "permanent," affecting future budget years. Like other federally-funded agencies, the UDC now waits to see if the Congress passes a Continuing Resolution by March 27 to avoid a federal shut down and potentially stopping all federal payments. "It's a scary time," Ramie said.
Among other items discussed at the March 7th UDC meeting:
• Approved a quote by Kittatinny Canoes for the UDC 25th Annual Raft Trip that will take place on Sunday, Aug. 4 (Ten Mile River to Barryville). The cost will be $24 adults, $14 kids up to age 12.
• Reviewed and accepted proposals for the purchase of UDC t-shirts (UDC will announce when they are available for sale).
• An anniversary item was approved that will be a giveaway souvenir at the April 28 awards banquet.
• They discussed hosting a 5K Run/Walk "Strides Across the Delaware" on Sept. 28 in the Equinunk-Lordville area but they need more information before deciding whether to move forward with making plans.
[Information for this story was obtained from Director Ramie the day after the meeting.]
The UDC meets on the first Thursday at 7 p.m., at their offices at 211 Bridge St., Narrowsburg. They may be reached at (845)252-3022.