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Created by an intergovernmental compact with New York State (including New York City), New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the federal government for planning, conservation, utilization, development, management, and control of the water resources of the Delaware River Basin.1
The Delaware River Basin Commission was created in May of 1961 largely as a result of a 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision that established a court ordered formula under which the river states and New York City must share Delaware waters. Its purpose is to bring the resource under collective and balanced control, and to ensure fair usage by its controlling members.2
The commission was created as a political and corporate agency of the signatory parties. Its membership consists of the governors of the signatory states, an ex-officio, and one commissioner to be appointed by the President of the U.S.3 The members, who serve without compensation, are to appoint an alternate to serve during absences, and each member has a single vote, with rulings by the majority.
The primary responsibilities of the commission are the development of plans, policies, and projects which relate to the basin’s water resources. It also adapts and promotes uniform, coordinated policies of water conservation, and encourages the planning, development, and financing of water resources projects which affect the basin. Specifically, it:

a. Establishes standards of planning, design, and operation of all basin facilities.
b. Sponsors and conducts research on water resources and collects and dispenses said data.
c. Initiates projects designed for flood protection, watershed management, recreation, hydroelectric power, water supply, and pollution control on behalf of compact members.
d. Compiles statistical information on ground water levels and publicizes them as needed in order to preclude regional water shortages.
e. Negotiates loans and grants to finance water resource projects, such as dams and reservoirs.
f. Plans, designs, acquires, constructs, reconstructs, completes, owns, improves, extends, develops, operates, and maintains projects, facilities, and properties as deemed mutually beneficial to compact members.
g. Regulates withdrawal of any water and issues permits for same.4
The commission is permitted to own and sell real estate; it may also act as its own enforcement agent, vested with the powers of a peace officer.
Prior to any implementation of new regulations or programs, public meetings must be held, after which the agency acts as agent in accepting sealed bids for any projects. The commission may issue bonds of indebtedness in order to raise capital or borrow funds as it deems necessary.
Fairly autonomous by its structure, the Delaware River Basin Commission is accountable to the individual state legislatures, whose appropriations provide its funding, and to whom it must issue an annual report.
In 1963, the function and remaining funds of the Interstate Commission on the Delaware River Basin (RG 0903) were transferred to this agency.5
As originally enacted, the duration of the compact is for 100 years from the date of enactment (1961).6
NOTE: For administrative purposes this agency functions through the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Division of Water Resources.

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1 DL 53, ch. 71

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 DL 54, ch. 83

6 DL 53, ch. 71
January 14, 1988; January 28, 1988; February 10, 1989; March 22, 1989

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