DRBC Water Dependence Was Greatly Exaggerated All Along!

Tom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.

DRBC water dependence claims have ranged from 15 to 22 million people over the years but the real number was always much lower and the DRBC has admitted it.

When the Delaware River Basin Commission was formed in 1961, the legislators creating it said this about dependence on DRBC water:

Whereas some twenty-two million people of the United States at present live and work in the region of the Delaware River Basin and its environs, and the government, employment, industry, and economic development of the entire region and the health, safety, and general welfare of its population are and will continue to be vitally affected by the use, conservation, management, and control of the water and related resources of the Delaware River Basin…

Some 57 years later and slightly less than a year ago the NRDC claimed it was “over 17 million people” for whom DRBC water was a vital source. And, six years ago, when I wrote here that it was closer to 12 million, the DRBC was still saying it DRBC water was relied upon by 15 million people. Now, we know they were lying all along; the Commission itself says DRBC water is used by only 13.3 million, some 39% of which is diverted to the New Jersey and New York water thieves outside the basin.

New Jersey and New York, of course, have no qualms about denying us the use of our water. Here’s what I noted about the biggest DRBC water thief, New York City, in my earlier post:

New York City is the biggest water thief by far in this regard, dwarfing all other users, and, combined with what New Jersey takes for out-of-basin use, they together rip off about 900 MGD (enough to frack about 200 gas wells per day by the way). New York City and adjoining communities served by its water system get 50% of their water from Delaware River Basin reservoirs and have a population of roughly 9 million people.

And, there’s the rub; the other 50% comes from elsewhere (Catskill and East of Hudson reservoirs).  This means only 4.5 million Big Apple residents are truly dependent on the Delaware River Basin for their water and not the 8-9 million the DRBC would have us believe.

It turns out I was precisely correct on the NYC population served and the combined number of DRBC water thieves is 5.2 million, an astounding 39% of our water. Here’s how it work out on the map, courtesy of the DRBC:

DRBC water

According to the agency, some 9% or a little less than 600 million gallons per day of DRBC water is stolen by New York and New Jersey. That’s less than estimated six years ago and the amount of water used to hydraulically fracture a well today has grown because laterals are much longer (greatly reducing well numbers and gross land disturbance). But, the water stolen by New York and New Jersey is still enough to drill and fracture 40 wells every single day and we only have about 30 rigs altogether operating in Pennsylvania.

Yet, we’re told by the governors of New York and New Jersey, and their slobbering environmental sycophant Tom Wolf, that a ban on exports of the same water for use in other watersheds such as the Northern Tier portion of the Marcellus Shale region, where only a handful of rigs operate, is somehow warranted. This is even though these are also one-time DRBC water uses, rather than continuous water withdrawals such as are stolen by New York and New Jersey; “continuous” being integral to the DRBC’s own justification for treating a discharge as a project.

Nothing demonstrates the hollowness of the DRBC position on a fracking ban than this proposed prohibition of water exports. It’s an anti-gas measure, not a water quality measure. No one believes the export of water threatens water quality, not when there are already low-flow restrictions in place anyway. The DRBC proposes to give New York and New Jersey as much of our water as they want, even though they need less today, while denying its own residents their Pennsylvania neighbors the water they need for economic development.

What we see here is a continuation of DRBC lying on a massive scale. The agency has has stopped lying about the millions served, but it continues to lie about the threat hydraulic fracturing represents, its own motives and its excuses for a ban that cannot and will not stand legal challenge.

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3 thoughts on “DRBC Water Dependence Was Greatly Exaggerated All Along!

  1. Not to mention the attempts of the DRBC staffers sent to lobby in Harrisburg and spread lies to legislators saying there is no gas in the DRB when their own graphs show otherwise.

  2. The DRBC has very limited control of the NYC reservoirs. The anties use these inflated numbers to intimidate people knowing full well the numbers are inflated by at least 100%.

    Like NYCDEP has always said, whats in the reservoirs is theirs and what is released belongs to everyone else.

    The DRBC and the anties also use a figure of 16,000 for the number of wells that will be drilled in the basin. Another fabricated statistic to scare people.

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