News from Around the Basin – August 24, 2023

Drought in the basin, Luke Paper Mill up for sale, the unequal costs of flooding, and more, in this week’s Potomac News Reservoir.

Potomac River Conditions

As you will see in the news articles linked below, communities across the basin are implementing drought watch status and asking residents to conserve water. Due to hydroelectric dam operations upstream, fairly large hourly fluctuations in flows can be observed at some USGS streamflow gages, but the effects of these are temporary, and on average, river flows are continuing to slowly decline.

However, good news might be on the horizon. NWS MARFC predicts ¼ to ¾ inches of rain throughout the Potomac watershed.

“This may be enough to keep us in daily drought monitoring but out of drought operations,” according to Dr. Cherie Schultz, Director of ICPRB’s Section for Cooperative Water Supply Operations on the Potomac (CO-OP).

CO-OP staff have been in active drought monitoring status since last Friday. Should the dry weather continue, there is a possibility they will go into full drought operations, with twice-daily reporting to stakeholders and consideration of releases from upstream reservoirs.

Collaboration on River Spills

At this month’s meeting of the Potomac River Basin Drinking Water Source Protection Partnership members heard from sister river commissions and partner organizations about how they responded to two recent river spills: the East Palestine train derailment and the Delaware River latex spill. Although neither of these events occurred in the Potomac watershed, hearing how the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) and the US EPA Region 3 responded, and the lessons they learned, is an important step towards better preparation for a regional spill response.

A video of the presentations is available on the ICPRB YouTube page.

The Partnership is a voluntary association of water suppliers and government agencies focused on protecting sources of drinking water in the Potomac River basin. Coordinated by ICPRB, this coalition takes a collaborative approach to protecting raw water supplies in the basin, including spill response.

Find more information on who to contact if you see a spill, fish kill, or harmful algal bloom in the river can be found on ICPRB’s How to Report a Spill or Environmental Problem page.

Upcoming ICPRB Business Meeting

The ICPRB will hold its fourth quarter business meeting on September 12, 2023, at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV. This will be the first in-person business meeting since 2020. The agenda includes a presentation about improvements to our seasonal forecasting projects like the Water Supply Outlook, an overview of the Comprehensive Plan 5-year review process, and updates on other projects.

The public is invited to attend the meeting, however, there will not be a virtual meeting option. Please contact us for more information on how to attend.