Skip to content
Group 2 Delaware River Watershed Initiative

Our Water

The Delaware River system is the lifeblood of the Mid-Atlantic, supplying drinking water and jobs for millions

The Delaware River basin flows from the Catskill Mountains of New York through Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and into the Atlantic at Delaware Bay. This web of rivers and streams is the lifeblood of the region. It provides drinking water for 15 million people, including the communities of New York City, Trenton, Philadelphia and Wilmington. It sustains orchards, wineries, dairy farms and nurseries. Its free-flowing waters, world-class fisheries, and streamside parks draw anglers, birders, bicyclists and paddlers from across the region and the world.

Smart laws and caring landowners have helped clean up historic pollution, but poorly planned development is still a threat. Rain running off roads and parking lots carries oil and chemicals. The loss of trees and native plants that act as natural water filters leads to flooding, and streams clogged with silt, trash and algae.

That is why more than fifty nonprofit organizations have come together to protect and restore the waterways our communities and economy rely on. Together with scientists, home and landowners, local officials and volunteers, they are conserving forests and farms, cleaning up streams, and bringing back native plants.


States: Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania


in annual economic activity


People rely on the watershed for drinking water


Square miles crisscrossed by this web of rivers and streams


The Delaware River Watershed Initiative is focused on four key stressors that threaten the health of our waterways, and the safety and reliability of our drinking water.

Loss of Forested Headwaters

The Delaware Basin is home to eight million people, and growing, thanks to its beauty and quality of life. But sprawl is threatening the forests that filter our water.

Agriculture Runoff

Rain running off fields can carry manure, fertilizer and pesticides into our rivers, polluting the places we like to boat, swim, and fish, while contaminating our drinking water.


As pavement replaces plants, rain flows into rivers rather than seeping slowly into the ground. Along the way, it picks up motor oil, road salt, antifreeze, and other pollutants.

Depletion of Groundwater

Millions of people rely on water from the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer in southern New Jersey, but this vast freshwater reserve is overtapped, draining wells and wetlands.


To ensure the Delaware River system can provide clean drinking water to all for generations to come, conservation groups and community partners are focused on three solutions:

Land Protection

Protecting open space from development keeps rivers and streams healthy. By keeping green spaces green, we ensure that rivers and streams run pure and clean today and for generations to come.

Stormwater Solutions

Preventing polluted runoff from contaminating our rivers and streams also protects our drinking water. Naturescapes, like rain gardens and streamside forests, clean streams while greening our communities.

Farmland Restoration

Farmers care deeply for their land, and when they manager their farms with clean water in mind, they can save money, keep fertile soil on the farm, and reduce pollution downstream.