The Delaware River’s watershed supplies drinking water to some 13 million people. Once characterized as an “open sewer” by the Delaware River Basin Commission, the river now is much cleaner than it was in the mid-20th century. Tougher environmental regulations on discharges have led to higher oxygen levels in the river, allowing fish to return and breed in areas that previously supported little or no aquatic life, while improving water quality for drinking and recreation.
But could the progress be reversed? Environmentalists fear the gains are threatened by the Trump administration’s rollback of the Waters of the U.S. Rule that protects smaller wetlands and seasonal streams from pollution or development. Experts at an NJ Spotlight roundtable on March 5 also discussed how the river is at risk too from climate-related threats including floods, droughts, and encroaching saltwater.
The roundtable took place at Cooper’s Riverview, Trenton on March 5.
Carol R. Collier, Senior Adviser, Watershed Management and Policy, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
Bruce Friedman, Director, Division of Water Monitoring and Standards, Water Resource Management, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
Dr. Alan Hunt, Policy Director, Musconetcong Watershed Association
Kathy Klein, Executive Director, Partnership for the Delaware Estuary
Doug O’Malley, Director, Environment New Jersey
Jon Hurdle, NJ Spotlight Environmental Reporter