Susquehanna River Basin Commission

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The Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) is federal-interstate compact commission created by the Susquehanna River Basin Compact (Pub. L. 91-575) between three U.S states: (Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland), and the federal government, and signed into law by President Richard Nixon on Christmas Eve 1970 to be effective 30 days later on January 23, 1971.[1]

The Compact[edit]

In the late 1960’s, a broad group of concerned citizens saw the need for a federal-interstate coordinating agency to lead the conservation, development, and administration of the Basin’s resources that would preserve and enhance its value as a scenic and recreational asset for the people who live in the Basin. The need to coordinate these efforts, along with those of three states and the agencies of the federal government, led to the drafting of the Susquehanna River Basin Compact, which was signed into law on December 24, 1970. The Compact, as adopted by the Congress of the United States, and the legislatures of New York State, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, provides the mechanism to guide water resource management of the Susquehanna River Basin.

Membership[edit]

State membership on the Commission includes the governors of the three participating states or their designees. Under Pub. L. 110-114, the federal member is ex officio the Commander, North Atlantic Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.[2] The members appoint alternate members to serve in their place. As of August 2016, Brig. General William H. Graham is the federal member of the Commission. Secretary Ben Grumbles is the member from Maryland and James M. Tierney is the member from New York. Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell is the member from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Brig. General William H. Graham also serves as the United States Member of the Delaware River Basin Commission under the authority of Pub. L. 110-114.

The Commission’s appointed members do periodically change. Here is the most current member list.

Purpose and Activities[edit]

The purpose of the SRBC is to manage the water resources of the Susquehanna River under comprehensive planning principles through its own programs and by coordinating the efforts of the three states and the federal government. These program efforts include implementation of structural and non-structural flood mitigation projects, regulation of water withdrawals and consumptive use, allocation of water resources among the member states, restoration and preservation of fisheries and wetlands, protection of future water supply (including availability of flows into the Chesapeake Bay), and protection of water quality.[3]

Commission staff develops and implements the programs as directed by the commissioners and as found in Commission’s comprehensive plan. The six priority management areas of the Comprehensive Plan are listed below, along with desired results.

Sustainable Water Development: To regulate and plan for water resources development in a manner that maintains economic viability, protects instream users, and ensures ecological diversity; and meets immediate and future needs of the people of the basin for domestic, municipal, commercial, agricultural and industrial water supply and recreational activities.

Water Quality: To support the existing and designated uses of all water bodies by achieving water quality that meets or exceeds standards.

Flooding: To prevent loss of life and significantly reduce future damages from floods within the Basin through an integrated system of structural and nonstructural flood damage reduction measures.

Ecosystems: To achieve healthy ecosystems that provide groundwater and surface water of sufficient quality and in adequate supply to support abundant and diverse populations of aquatic, riparian, and terrestrial organisms, as well as human use.

Chesapeake Bay: To manage the water resources of the Susquehanna River Basin to assist in restoring and maintaining the Chesapeake Bay so it meets or exceeds applicable water quality standards and supports healthy populations of living resources, including oysters, crabs, fish, waterfowl, shore birds, and underwater grasses.

Coordination, Cooperation and Public Information: To maximize available human resources and achieve common and complementary management objectives by the Commission, its member jurisdictions and others; to promote the planning and management of the basin’s water resources in the most efficient manner possible; to inform the public on the Commission’s water management responsibilities; and to enhance the public’s access to Commission information and in commenting on Commission activities.

Program Areas[edit]

The Commission completes much of its work through four program areas. These programs include:

Project Review – the permitting arm of the Commission’s regulatory program, the Project Review team receives and reviews applications for water withdrawals and consumptive water use, makes recommendations to the commissioners for actions on those applications, and helps to develop key standards guiding how, when and where the Commission’s policies and regulations are exercised.

Compliance – the enforcement arm of the Commission’s regulatory program, the Compliance Program works to ensure that water related projects have the appropriate approvals and operate within the constraints of those approvals. Site inspections, quarterly reporting requirements, and an extensive project database are some of the essential tools used by the program.

Monitoring & Protection - Monitoring and Protection scientists collect data to better understand the interactions of biological, chemical, and physical traits of streams throughout the Basin. These activities include water quality monitoring/sampling for macroinvertebrates & fish, stormwater, nutrient and sediment loadings, and abandoned mine drainage. Key protection efforts include operation of systems that provide real-time monitoring in sensitive watersheds and in the vicinity of drinking water supplies, establishing Total Maximum Daily Load criteria, assessing risks to drinking water sources, and characterizing the cause and extent of impairment to Basin waterways.

Planning & Operations – Planning and Operations provides technical support to the other programs and is tasked with assessing the nature and quantity of water use in the Basin. The Planning and Operations team also leads coordination efforts to help ensure that Basin agencies and residents are prepared to withstand and react to flooding and drought conditi

Controversy[edit]

In 2012 the Commission attracted protests by approving the extraction of water for use in fracking, an activity which the protesters believed causes ground-water pollution and contributes to global warming.[4]

This water extraction involved the sale of a mobile home park by the owner to Aqua America who had gotten permission from the Commission to withdraw up to 3 million gallons of water per day from the Susquehanna at that site. Aqua America then evicted the occupants so as to build a pumping station on the site, attracting further protests from the residents of the site and their supporters.[5]

The sale of the property, not the Commission approval, triggered the eviction due to a local ordinance about operating the mobile home park in a floodplain. http://articles.philly.com/2012-04-18/business/31361933_1_fracking-trailer-park-anti-drilling

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Each of the three participating states had already enacted the compact prior to its approval by the U.S. Congress and President Nixon, thus making it a solemn agreement among the parties to jointly exercise their sovereign powers in the management of the basin's water resources. The Commission is neither a federal or state agency, but rather is collectively the agency of all four of its member jurisdictions.Full text of the Susquehanna River Basin Compact
  2. ^ "SRBC Commissioners". SRBC Official Website. Susquehanna River Basin Commission. 2009-06-10. Archived from the original on June 20, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-10. 
  3. ^ Overview of the SRBC
  4. ^ "SRBC approves water withdrawals for Marcellus drilling over chants from protesters". Pennlive. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  5. ^ "32-unit village no more". Williamsport Sun-Gazette. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 

External links[edit]