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Storage in three large water supply reservoirs at the headwaters of the Delaware River has dropped from drought warning to drought levels, automatically triggering additional reductions in the amount of water released from the reservoirs into the river and the amount diverted out of the Delaware River Basin to New York City and New Jersey.
The reductions are required under the Delaware River Basin Commission's (DRBC's) drought operating plan which is based on storage levels in the three reservoirs (Cannonsville, Pepacton, and Neversink). The impoundments are located in New York State's Catskill Mountains region and owned by New York city.
A public hearing on whether to declare a drought emergency and implement additional water conservation measures is scheduled for December 18th at the commission's offices in West Trenton, New Jersey.
As of today, combined storage in the three reservoirs was 66 billion gallons, over 100 billion gallons below normal, and 24 percent of capacity.
Under the commission's drought operating plan, which has been implemented in stages over the past month, the allowable water supply diversions to New York City have been lowered from a normal of 800 to 520 million gallons per day (mgd), and diversions to northern New Jersey through the Delaware and Raritan Canal have been lowered from the normal of 100 to 65 mgd. In addition, minimum flow targets in the Delaware River have been lowered from 1,750 to 1,350 cubic feet per second (cfs) at Montague, N.J., and from 3,000 to 2,500 cfs at Trenton, N.J.
Smaller cutbacks in the out-of-basin diversions and flow targets automatically took effect on November 4 when falling reservoir storage triggered a drought warning.
"These water-conserving actions in place now save up to 540 million gallons per day of storage in the New York City reservoirs," noted Carol R. Collier, the DRBC's executive director.
Over 17 million people rely on the waters of the Delaware River Basin. New York City, which lies outside the watershed, gets roughly half its water from its Upper Delaware reservoirs.