Water Management in Changing Times – Kenneth F. Najjar Ph.D. (Delaware River Basin Commission)

“The title should be Water management in Ever Changing Time,” says Kenneth. We need to admit that water issues are ever changing and that we need to prepare for it. Because of how water resources is so complicated, a simple change in one part would affect the others and lead to large effects. Water is a tricky business and thus management is important.

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So how is water management in the Delaware River? DRBC was founded when the four states along the river signed a compact. Like all issues, the commission was founded because there was arguments and problems. Water supply arguments among states as well as water quality from upstream and downstream was the main reason for the founding of the DRBC. Today, over 15 million people use the water from Delaware River.

Several changes has occur on the river, restoring the water since the passing of the regulation in the 60’s was one such change. Water protection of the headwater is another such change. So what new changes are there? Well the Earth is ever changing. Population growth in the US is projected to be third after China and India. Along the Delaware River, population is projected to grow by 10% by 2050. So the amount of River will be the same, but the number of people needing the water will increase.

It will not just be if there are enough water to service the people, it is also the quality. The growth in population leads to a growth in demand. Demand for food, for products, for chemicals. It seems our waterways will take a pounding and the quality may be affected. The Delaware River is the 5th most toxic river basin in the country, even with all that the DRBC is doing.

Even if we have the quality and quantity of water. The ever changing water management will reveal to us that the climate is affecting the River. Droughts, hurricanes, polar vortex, temperature rising are all but of some changes that are happening. Philadelphia and New Jersey will also have to deal with sea level rise. Salt water intrusion will affect the downstream of rivers.

So what can the commission do? Infrastructure change and maintenance. Our infrastructures needs attention. The first step in water management is to manage the insurance that everyone has water. To do so, we need the structures that is lasting.

Water is also not an isolated resource. Water and Energy goes together naturally. DRBC has in its water management profile an energy chapter. Fracturing is growing in the basin, but even without fracking, energy needs water.

Kenneth comments, “who knows what the next change will occur?” DRBC will continue to plan and management based on projections as well as any emergency.

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About t5huang

Masters in Environmental Science at UPenn Candidate
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