DELAWARE RIVER PROPOSED AS FUTURE NEW YORK WATER SUPPLY
New York Board of Water Supply Suggests to Governor Smith Joint Commission with Pennsylvania and New Jersey
CONSIDERING that the present Catskill system, which will be completed in about three years will supply the Greater New York only until about 1935, the board of water supply of that city has addressed a letter to Governor Smith of New York State suggesting that, as the Delaware River is the most logical supply for the greater city when it shall have outgrown the Catskill and Croton Systems, he appoint a commission to confer with similar bodies from Pennsylvania and New Jersey to consider the proper development of the Delaware as a source of water supply and for the conservation, use and development of the great water resources of that river. The letter which is signed by George J. Gillespie, president of the board of water supply, is as follows:
New York, February 5, 1923
Hon. Alfred E. Smith, Governor of the State of New York,
Albany, New York.
Sir: One of any community’s most important considera-
tions having in mind the health of its citizens, the development of its industries and the protection of its properties from fire, is an adequate water supply; of special and particular importance is this consideration to a city like the City of New York because of its very large population, its constant growth and its relationship to our country at large.
Those charged with the responsibility of locating the sources of and providing the water supply of a city like the City of New York must be anticipating its growth and needs by decades, so complicated, comprehensive and time-consuming are its investigations, the making of the plans and the actual construction work connected with same.
The present so-called Catskill water supply system, dreamed of, studied and planned for many years prior thereto, and actively commenced under authority of the laws of the State of New York of 1905, Chapter 724, will probably be completed within the next three years but its entire wonderful supply together with the pre-existing supply of New York City still also in use, will only continue adequate for our city’s needs at normal consumption rates until about the year 1935.
These considerations led the Board of Estimate and Apportionment of the City of New York on June 17, 1921, to adopt the following preambles and resolution:
WHEREAS, The Commissioner ot Water Supply, Gas and Electricity under date of May (I, 1921, lias advised the Board of Estimate and Apportionment as to the necessity of an additional supply of water to meet future needs of the City, and also as to the more immediate need of an additional tunnel and pipe conduits to convey water to the Boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens ami Richmond: and
WHEREAS, This Board Is of the opinion that it is imperative that studies looking to the solution of these problems should be immediately undertaken;
RESORVED, That the Board of Estimate and Apportionment hereby requests that the Board of Water Supply shall undertake studies to assertain the most desirable and best sources for an additional supply of water for the City of New
York and the manner in which the supply can best be delivered to the several boroughs of the City, In accordance with Chapter 724 of the laws of 1905. as amended: and the Commissioner of Water Supply. Gas and Electricity and the Hoard of Water Supply are requested to co-operate to the full extent m order that the interests of the City may he best served and to report back to this Board from time to time.
Pursuant thereto, the Board of Water Supply of the City oi New York has undertaken the studios therein directed and in the course thereof has given consideration among others to the Delaware River, and the conservation and development and use of its waters.
Apropos thereof, we would state that the Delaware River is one of the great water courses of the eastern seaboard. It has a drainage area of over 10,000 square miles. It rises in the State of New York and, after flowing 65 miles through that state, it becomes the boundary between Pennsylvania and New York for a distance of 82 miles to Port Jervis. From that point to the tidal waters of Delaware Bay, a distance ot 100 miles, it marks the dividing line between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The drainage area above Port Jervis is 3,435 square miles, of which 2,400 square miles, or 70 per cent., are entirely within the State of New York. Hie resources of the Delaware Basin are among the most valuable in the south eastern portion of our State but its waters are interstate as between three states and this fact has operated to retard and prevent their conservation. The Delaware River, located as it is, near the center of our middle Atlantic seaboard, should be developed so as to serve the public interest and need. Its waters today flow largely to waste and their latent benefits are unrealized because of the uncertainty and lack of definition as to the rights which the three states may separately enjoy in them.
No one of the three states, within its own boundaries, can adequately and profitably develop more than a minor part of the total resources of the Delaware. Only through joint action and agreement will it be possible to evolve a plan which will enable each of the states to realize its full share and measure of the benefits which are lying dormant and unused.
Among others the principal benefits which would flow to the three states from a comprehensive development of the resources of the Delaware are the following:
- A large supply of hydro-eleotric power which would take the place of much energy now derived from high priced coal.
- Supplies of water for municipal and domestic consumption of the large future populations in each of the three states.
- The equalization of the river flow with resulting reduction of flood damages and the benefits of a more uniform low season flow.
More than ever is it incumbent on us to look forward and plan for the requirements and necessities of the vast population which, before many years, will spread itself over the seaboard area of New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. 1 be requirements of this area for power and for potable water ought not to be restricted by state lines particularly when, as in this case, there is available a natural resource from which no one of the interested states can alone derive material advantage but from which all three, through joint action, can benefit largely.
The case of the Delaware is similar to that of the Colorado Riyer as to which commissions of the States of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah. Colorado and Wyoming together with representatives of the Federal Governmen have recently agreed on the terms of a treaty under which the waters of the Colorado will be divided and apportioned between these several states. The example there set is a wonderful and concrete illustration of (hr benefits and advantages to be derived from joint action and agreement. It points the way to a procedure under which New Jersey’, Pennsylvania and New York might arrive it a working agreement looking toward the securing hv each of them of great advantages possibly not realizable in any other manner.
In view of the foregoing, we are bringing this mutter to your particular notice, and we earnestly hope that as our Chief Executive, you will inaugurate and give impetus to a plan of procedure which will ultimately result in securing to our State and its citizens in the City of New York and elsewhere her and their full share of the advantages which would accrue from a comprehensive plan for ihe development of the water resources of the basin of the Delaware River.
May we suggest that the procedure at this stage he that adopted relative to the Port Authority Plan—namely, that under authority of the Legislature, through proper bill or resolution, you appoint a commission to confer with similar commissions from Pennsylvania and New Jersey to negotiate and agree upon the terms of a treaty between said three states and the Government of the United States, to cover fully all matters relating to the conservation, use and development of the water resources of the Delaware River and to report hack the result of their deliberations and negotiations
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New York’s Future Water Supply
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GEOROE J. GILLESPIE, President, Board of Water Supply.