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Last year’s Delaware River flow rates: Did they break records?

Delaware River at New Hope on Sept. 8, 2011

More than two dozen cities in the East and Midwest had their wettest year on record in 2018, including Pittsburgh, so the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) decided to take a look at U.S. Geological Survey data for the Delaware River.

Delaware River at Montague, N.J.

One of the DRBC’s roles is to monitor and manage river flow rates to ensure there is enough freshwater flowing downstream to keep the ocean/bay salt water pushed back so that it doesn’t endanger the drinking water intakes for Philadelphia and South Jersey.

Here’s what they found out about last year’s flow rates (measured in cubic feet per second):

  1. The Delaware River at Montague, N.J., experienced the highest median flows since records started in 1940. The measurement is taken about 1,500 feet upstream from the bridge connecting Montague, N.J., and Milford, Pa.
  2. The Delaware River at Trenton, N.J., had the second highest median flows since records began in 1913. The highest year was 2011, which included flows resulting from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

Delaware River at Trenton, N.J.

The charts also give you an idea of which years were drier in the Delaware River Basin — those appearing first (to the left) in the bar charts had the lowest median flows.

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