NEWS NOTES ON SUSTAINABLE WATER RESOURCESRiver Basin Commissions in the Mid-Atlantic Region

River Basin Commissions in the Mid-Atlantic Region

“Most Mid-Atlantic states are interconnected through their waterways. Some are also interconnected through river basin commissions and other water management institutions. Pennsylvania, for example, has land area, population centers, agricultural producers, commercial production, and a range of other human activities in the Susquehanna, Delaware, Ohio, and Potomac river basins as well as the Great Lakes basin. Although river management issues are most effectively discussed and disputes between stakeholders resolved at the river basin level, these basins rarely coincide with a single jurisdictional boundary, such as a county, state, or country.”

“The Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin was the Mid-Atlantic region's first (1940) basin wide commission. This was followed by the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) in 1948, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) in 1961, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) in 1970, and the Chesapeake Bay Commission (CBC) in 1980. DRBC and SRBC have the broadest authority. The newest commission is the Council of Great Lakes Governors (CGLG), enacted in 2008.”

“Interstate conflict over water resources is growing in the Mid-Atlantic region and elsewhere. As our region's population continues to increase and industries and energy sources shift, water is in greater demand. Several issues, such as out-of-basin diversion of water and water use for shale gas well development, have lately highlighted the interstate connections among the Mid-Atlantic region's water resources. Other concerns, such as aquatic invasive species and alterations in water availability due to climate change, are likely to become more pressing in the future.”

In the past there were Federal-Interstate Compact Commissions, with representatives at the federal and state levels, but the current picture is far different. The recent information may indicate that the original reasons for such organizations still exist, and it is possible that a new cycle of organizational evolution will materialize.