On Saturday, Jan. 23, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) celebrates its 50th anniversary – a milestone moment and halfway marker in a 100-year compact kicked off in early 1971.
“The compact was signed by President Richard Nixon on Christmas Eve of 1970, with an effective date of 30 days later,” said SRBC Executive Director Andrew Dehoff. “The commission is a partnership between three states (Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland) and the federal government to cooperatively manage the water-based resources.”
The four key areas the commission is focused on in the coming years include:
1. Water supply. “What do we need to do to insure there are appropriate supplies of water?” said Dehoff.
2. Water quality. “We know there are impairments out there. What can the commission do to address those impairments?”
3. Floods and droughts. “We know they are coming, we just don’t know when and how bad they will be. We have a role in helping communities increase their resiliency and be prepared for those events.”
4. Watershed management. “The interaction between land and water is so important to things like storm water management and groundwater recharge.”
Over those areas, Dehoff mentioned that there are three overarching considerations that can’t be ignored.
“That includes the use of data and technology, which helps drive much of what we do. Second is climate change and how that will impact our activities,” he said. “The third is environmental justice – recognizing there are underserved communities that have had some inequalities in the past to accessing clean water and recreational activities.”
As with each element of the SRBC, Dehoff urges public interaction – not only on the proposed comprehensive plan, but also in discussing permit requests and helping experts develop the best recommendations to give commissioners at their quarterly meetings.
“The phone lines are always open, and we also have a very robust website that keeps people informed of what is coming before commissioners each quarterly meeting. We encourage people to take advantage of the public commenting periods for various water use requests,” he said. “We are also on social media, particularly Twitter. I would encourage people to follow us there. We also, through these forums, announce reports that detail the work we are doing and the information we are collecting in the basin.”
For more information on the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, visit www.srbc.net
John Zaktansky is an award-winning journalist and avid promoter of the outdoors who loves camping, kayaking, fishing and hunting with the family.