Get our newsletters

Delaware River Basin Commission prohibits high volume hydraulic fracturing

Stricter rules for water and wastewater importation and exportation also approved


By a vote of 4-0, with the federal government abstaining, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) Dec. 8 approved a final rule prohibiting the discharge of wastewater from high volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) to water or land in the Delaware River Basin and clarifying the circumstances in which water, including wastewater, may be exported from or imported into the basin.
The action is reflected in Commission Resolution No. 2022 – 04 which prohibits the discharge of wastewater from HVHF to land or water throughout the basin to control future pollution, protect public health and preserve the waters of the Basin. Resolution No. 2022 – 04 also strengthens DRBC policies concerning the exportation and importation of water, including wastewater, into and from the Basin and provides greater detail for implementing them.
The resolution discourages, limits and places conditions on water importation and exportation to protect the health and safety of basin residents and preserve basin waters for aquatic life and other uses. The resolution recognizes the Delaware River Basin’s limited water quantity, susceptibility to drought, and limited capacity to assimilate wastewater.
“The DRBC Commissioners have taken a bold step to protect our Basin’s exceptional water resources,” said Steve Tambini, DRBC executive director. “Adoption of these rules by the commission is a joint action of four states and the federal government, confirming the significant and vital role our shared water resources play in the lives of more than 13 million people.”

The DRBC held five public hearings on the draft rules and received thousands of comments and petitions from a diverse cross-section of the basin’s communities and beyond. The DRBC staff and commission member agencies reviewed and evaluated all comments, along with additional scientific and technical literature and reports.
The action marks the DRBC’s second major rulemaking on HVHF. At a February 25, 2021, meeting, the commission approved a final rule prohibiting the practice of HVHF in the basin, Resolution No. 2021-01.
“We appreciate the robust public engagement, the input from the DRBC’s state and federal members, and the careful deliberation by the Commissioners throughout this process,” Tambini said.
The DRBC is an interstate-federal government agency created in 1961 by concurrent compact legislation, marking the first time that the federal government and a group of states joined as equal partners in a river basin planning, development and regulatory agency. The five commission members are the governors of the basin states (Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania) and the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ North Atlantic Division, who represents the federal government.

Join our readers whose generous donations are making it possible for you to read our news coverage. Help keep local journalism alive and our community strong. Donate today.