Commission passes resolution to review water supply agreements

June 22, 2021

Curtis Dalpra, Communications Manager
Office: (301) 274-8107

Commission to Review Interstate Agreements to Assure Reliable Drinking Water for the National Capital Region

ROCKVILLE, Md. – On June 15, 2021, an interstate body resolved to re-examine the agreements that for 40 years have provided reliable and clean drinking water to the National Capital Region with the goal of guaranteeing a reliable supply in the future.

In 1963, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed construction of 16 large reservoirs in the Potomac River basin to meet the future demand for drinking water and other water resource needs. Although the plan met significant public resistance, the drought of 1966 showed that something needed to be done.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB) led negotiations to establish what was at the time a revolutionary cooperative arrangement enshrined in the Low Flow Allocation Agreement (LFAA), the Water Supply Cooperation Agreement (WSCA), and related accords. Created by Congress as an independent inter-jurisdictional organization, ICPRB is particularly well suited to engage in multi-state coordinated cooperative functions. Time has demonstrated that the coordinated operation of the resources has allowed the water suppliers to meet demands because of synergistic gains in total yield realized under the cooperative management strategies.

Recently, the ICPRB’s Work Group on Water Supply suggested a Resolution to establish a process for reviewing these agreements. In presenting the Resolution to the Commission, Chairman Willem Brakel reviewed the history of these landmark agreements but acknowledged the need for updates. “That framework served us admirably for over four decades, but increasingly we have started to realize that these original agreements are becoming outdated, outmoded and less than fully capable of meeting the region’s needs and challenges as conditions change over the coming years and decades,” he stated.

The review will be staffed by ICPRB’s Section for Cooperative Water Supply Operations on the Potomac (CO-OP), which conducts annual drought exercises that help guarantee a reliable supply of drinking water for the DC metropolitan area.