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  • Writer's pictureOur Shared Waters

Reflecting on my visit to Blue Marsh Reservoir, an exemplar of Our Shared Waters

U.S. Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (D; PA-04; pictured fifth from left) partnered with the DRBC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to host a tour of Blue Marsh Dam and a roundtable on the importance of our shared water resources.

Congresswoman Madeleine Dean represents Pennsylvania’s 4th District, which includes Blue Marsh Reservoir and portions of the Schuylkill River. She is a member of the Delaware River Watershed Caucus.

September 12, 2023

“The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic values of the environment.”

- Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution

As Pennsylvanians, we are guaranteed the right to safe, clean water — and we must protect this natural resource. That’s why I was eager to visit Blue Marsh Reservoir this summer, where I learned from the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about the intricate planning and management that keeps Blue Marsh healthy and resilient.

Constructed by the Corps in 1978, Blue Marsh Reservoir is one of 8 reservoirs in Pennsylvania used to manage the Delaware River Basin. Blue Marsh is an essential piece of infrastructure for flood control, water supply, and recreation in Berks County and the entire Southeastern Pennsylvania region.

Water in Blue Marsh is stored and released at specific times according to weather, water usage patterns and other factors. This delicate balance emphasizes the interconnectedness of our shared waters. Water in reservoirs upstream helps to meet the needs of all downstream communities – even in other states, and in the case of the Delaware River Basin, more than 14 million people across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Delaware are served by this Basin.

This vast management challenge demands partnership — state departments of environmental protection and conservation, local watershed groups, and regional water authorities.

My visit to Blue Marsh highlighted this dynamic. Bringing together expertise from Berks County Parks and Recreation, Schuylkill River Greenways, and Western Berks Water Authority in addition to the DRBC, Army Corps of Engineers, and state elected officials, we discussed today’s water supply, water protection, and water recreation uses.

And planning for the future is necessary even as daily management responsibilities continue. Our climate crisis will undoubtedly strain our shared water resources, and environmental issues like increased flooding and drought will stress our community if we are unprepared. So, it is crucial that we are prepared.

All of the partners at Blue Marsh and in our region have a perspective to share on how to confront these current and future challenges. DRBC in particular will continue to lead this conversation and recently shared an analysis of potential future options for additional water storage in the Basin.

Ensuring pure water — and in sufficient quantity to equitably meet all our needs — is no easy task. However, we have many partners up to the task and I will continue to work in Washington to support the work happening here on the ground (and in the water).

We are simply stewards of our planet; we must ensure future generations can rely on and enjoy the environment as we have.


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