Delaware Riverkeeper Network

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30 Years

In honor of our 30th anniversary protecting the River, we will be sharing stories of our achievements over the years. From tagging horseshoe crabs in Moore’s Beach, NJ to challenging federal agencies like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, we continue to work on every level for a clean and healthy environment. Check back each month for a new story!

One of the biggest accomplishments we have made in our efforts to protect the Basin began early in our history and the positive benefits continue to this day. In 1992, in response to a petition submitted by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) designated the Middle and Upper Delaware River as Special Protection Waters and created a special body of regulations that mandated protection of the  exceptionally high Existing Water Quality of the designated portions of the River. In 2008, following a second petition from the Delaware Riverkeeper Network after the Lower Delaware River was designated as Wild and Scenic, the DRBC classified the rest of the non tidal River as Special Protection Waters as well. As a result of these designations, the Delaware River has the longest stretch of River in the nation with anti-degradation protection.

These Special Protection Waters designations represent a significant achievement for the ongoing health of the River by discouraging direct discharges of wastewater and mandating a higher level of treatment with a requirement that the river undergo “NO MEASURABLE CHANGE in water quality except towards natural conditions”. The designation puts these stricter standards in place as an effort to prevent any measurable change in the River’s existing water quality unless it is towards more natural conditions.

As we continue to work to defend the river from threats, the Special Protection Waters designation provides legal and policy support to prevent pollution and any loss of the outstanding values of the Delaware River Watershed.