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Executive Director's Message

October 31, 2014

Hancock, NY ... Trenton, NJ ... Bethlehem, PA … Wilmington, DE ... Washington, DC … Bristol, PA ... Albany, NY ... Harrisburg, PA ... Grahamsville, NY ... Philadelphia, PA ... Hillsborough, NJ … Dover, DE … Wayne County, PA … Columbia, NJ …

Listening and learning involves getting out of the office.

In the few short months since I took the oath of office as the executive director of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) in historic Washington Crossing State Park, I have visited the places listed above as part of my learning journey - some more than once. Some visits were in offices, others were on land in the watershed, some at the water’s edge, and some on the water itself.

My first Philadelphia learning experience was enhanced by the expert scientists at DRBC teaching me the importance of river monitoring and assessment first hand in a small boat that we launched in the estuary near the international airport. During this particular visit, the samples were being collected from the Schuylkill River and analyzed for toxicity. For me, understanding the role the DRBC continues to play towards ensuring a clean and sustainable water resource in the estuary was as important as the strict sampling techniques staff was attempting to teach me.

I have crisscrossed the basin to meet with numerous external stakeholders to “collect data” on their relationship with DRBC. I have met with our state signatory members to understand how their unique needs and programs can work with the DRBC rules and programs to maintain our collective mission objectives while avoiding duplication. I have journeyed to our nation’s capital, more than once, to promote the valuable work of interstate river basin commissions. While I truly find value in visiting with others away from West Trenton, I have also welcomed several stakeholders at our DRBC offices due to the simple practical realities of scheduling.

Finally, my listening and learning journey would not be complete without input from DRBC’s dedicated staff of planners, scientists, engineers and support professionals. When I was administered the oath of office on the banks of the Delaware River in August, I remarked to the staff that, “Together, we will plan for a sustainable future to ensure that we have a resilient resource inventory to meet the region’s needs while balancing the need for greater water efficiency. We will use your expertise, along with those of our partners, to protect, maintain or improve water quality.” Staff has been open about many ways to achieve those goals.

I have learned about numerous opportunities and challenges throughout the basin. I have been surprised by very few. The DRBC has a rich history of developing “plans, policies and projects” as charged in the 1961 Delaware River Basin Compact to provide solutions to meet sustainable water resource needs. Clearly our work is not complete. The basin, the waters, the region and the world are ever changing. While the charge remains the same, DRBC will continue to adapt and step up to meet our compact-defined mission.

My learning journey is not over. In fact, it will never be over.


Steve Tambini
Executive Director