Delaware River Basin Commission among finalists for INFORMS Edelman Award

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HANOVER, MD, March 26, 2010 – The team consisting of the Delaware River Basin Commission and its conservation partners is among six finalists that will compete for the INFORMS 2010 Franz Edelman Award for Achievement in Operations Research and the Management Sciences in Orlando on April 19 at the Hilton Bonnet Creek.

The finalists for the competition, sponsored by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®), include:

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) with Columbia University, The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, and the Delaware River Foundation, for “Improving Water Release Policies on the Delaware River through Operations Research.”

The Problem: How much water could be released from the Upper Delaware River reservoirs, which serve New York City (NYC) and were the focus of a 1954 U.S. Supreme Court Decree, to sustain wild trout and American shad populations while still ensuring sufficient reserves in case of a drought? And following three floods in Sept. 2004, April 2005, and June 2006, how could local residents be better protected against future flooding? While this controversy continues, in 2007 a coalition of conservation organizations including Columbia University, The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, and the Delaware River Foundation, backed by a team of operations researchers, worked with government authorities to take incremental steps toward better flow management.

The O.R. Solution: The DRBC, a federal-interstate compact agency comprised of New York State, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and the federal government, provided the forum for the basin states and NYC, along with interested stakeholders, to share views and consider alternate management approaches, a process that led to the Flexible Flow Management Program (FFMP).

The FFMP, which required the unanimous support of the four states and NYC, embodies an innovative approach to managing the NYC reservoirs – one that increased the potential for optimizing multiple, competing uses for the limited storage capacity the reservoirs provide. FFMP’s adaptive inventory control approach, which was originally suggested by the conservation groups, makes reservoir releases a function of both the level of storage in the reservoirs – individually and collectively – and the season of the year. Along with computer models, cost-benefit trade-off analyses provided an objective basis for devising a water release policy that addressed the objectives of the conservationists while providing a measure of spill mitigation for valley residents – all with little increased risk to water supply for NYC and the downstream states. The FFMP simplified implementation for river administrators compared to previous programs.

The Value: Conservation groups estimate a $163 million annual increase in fishing and boating income in the economically challenged Upper Delaware Valley as a result of the FFMP. Economic benefits also may include potential flood loss reduction (federal flood insurance claims throughout the basin in 2004-2006 exceeded $200 million). The FFMP is not a fixed and final answer to optimizing limited water storage for competing uses in the Delaware Basin. The sometimes heated dialogue among public and private stakeholders over reservoir operations continues. However, applying the principles of adaptive management to the interstate Delaware River Basin through the FFMP has produced incremental benefits and the prospect of greater ones. The process and the resulting FFMP are seen as possible models for other U.S. regions.

The six 2010 Franz Edelman finalists are:

  1. The Delaware River Basin Commission
  2. Deutsche Postal DHS for “Global Brand Management”
  3. Indeval for “Indeval develops a new operating and settlement system using Operations Research”
  4. New Brunswick Canada Department of Transportation for “Achieving Transportation Asset Management via Operations Research”
  5. Procter & Gamble for “Inventory Optimization at Procter & Gamble: Achieving Real Benefits Through User Adoption of Inventory Tools”
  6. Sasol for “Stochastic Operations Models at Sasol”

This is the 39th year of the prestigious Franz Edelman competition. The winner will be announced at a special awards banquet on April 19 at Applying Science to the Art of Business: the 2010 INFORMS Conference on OR/MS Practice.

Additional information about the 2010 Edelman Competition can be found online at URL. Additional information about the INFORMS Orlando conference is at http://meetings2.informs.org/Practice2010/.

About INFORMS

The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®) is an international scientific society with 10,000 members, including Nobel Prize laureates, dedicated to applying scientific methods to help improve decision-making, management, and operations. Members of INFORMS work in business, government, and academia. They are represented in fields as diverse as airlines, health care, law enforcement, the military, financial engineering, and telecommunications. The INFORMS website is www.informs.org. More information about operations research is at www.scienceofbetter.org.

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