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Morrisville v. Delaware River Basin Comm'n

Citation: 6 ELR 20021
No. No. 74-1226, 399 F. Supp. 469/(E.D. Pa., 07/31/1975)

Municipalities which use Delaware River water here challenge a system of user charges adopted by the Delaware River Basin Commission in order to repay the federal government for constructing storage reservoirs in the Basin. Plaintiffs have standing although they are not signatories to the DRB Compact. The Commission is empowered by the Compact to impose user charges for the river's waters. Its granting of "entitlement exemptions" from these charges for certain users until they consume more than a minimum level set by the Commission is neither arbitrary, capricious nor an abuse of discretion under § 15.6(b) of the Compact. The charges do not violate the Federal Water Supply Act of 1958, which, despite plaintiffs' assertions, in no way deals with how non-federal project costs should be allocated. The Commission's negative environmental declaration and the assessment on which it was based satisfy the requirements of NEPA, whether evaluated under the low "arbitrary or capricious" test or under the more stringent "reasonableness" test. Since it properly concluded that the proposed user charges will not significantly affect the environment, the Commission had no obligation to evaluate alternatives. Plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that the user charges and the "pooled water" concept on which they are based are intimately related to another dam and reservoir project. Judgment is entered for defendants on all issues.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Lawrence Sager
45 High St.
Pottstown, Pa. 19464
(215) 323-1328

Counsel for Defendant
William Miller
1 Palmer Square
Princeton, N.J. 08540
(609) 921-6077