New reservoir system in New York affects Delaware River levels

Posted: January 22, 2014

This story has been corrected from an earlier version. The earlier version incorrectly described how the new reservoir management system in New York works. The system will predict when water levels should be reduced, not emptied.

BUCKS COUNTY

New system in New York affects Delaware River

About two weeks after the Bucks County commissioners called on New York City to lower water levels in three of its reservoirs to prevent downstream flooding in the Delaware River, the city's Department of Environmental Protection announced that it would introduce a high-tech reservoir management system.

The system, which has been in development for several years, was not a direct response to the letter. But one of the changes will be using real-time weather forecasting data to help make predictions about when the waer level of the reservoirs should be reduced, such as ahead of large storms or snow melts, according to Paul Rush, deputy commissioner for the Bureau of Water Supply.

"That's a significant change," Rush said.

The current system relies on historical data to predict target water levels for the reservoirs for each time of year, Rush said, leaving the agency less prepared to respond to developments of each season.

Bucks County Commissioner Charles H. Martin said he had not heard about or reviewed the new system but that he welcomed the prospect of improvement.

"I would be anxious to have somebody interpret it and see if it would be beneficial" for flood prevention, he said. "Anything would help."

- Chris Palmer

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