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the Delaware Riverkeeper

Maya K. van Rossum has served as the Delaware Riverkeeper and leader for the Delaware Riverkeeper Network since 1994. The role of the Delaware Riverkeeper is to give the Delaware River, and the communities that depend upon it and appreciate it, a voice at every decisionmaking table that could provide help or do harm. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network that van Rossum leads is the only citizen action organization that works the entire length and breadth of the Delaware River and its watershed, speaking and working for both its protection and its restoration. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network has its main office in Bristol, PA and can be found on the web at van Rossum’s blog can be found at

van Rossum was one of the original petitioners in the landmark Robinson Township v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania case decided by the PA Supreme Court in 2013 which strengthened environmental standing opportunities, declared unconstitutional key sections of the pro-drilling Act 13 legislation, and reinvigorated the strength of Pennsylvania Constitution’s Environmental Rights Amendment for protecting the right to pure water, clean air and a healthy environment for present and future generations. van Rossum was a petitioner in both in her individual capacity as the Delaware Riverkeeper and as leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

biovan Rossum has been appointed by PA Governor Rendell to Pennsylvania’s Delaware River Basin Regional Water Resources Committee, by NJ Governor Codey to NJ’s Flood Mitigation Task Force, by the DRBC Commissioners to the Delaware River Basin Flood Mitigation Task Force, by DEP Secretary McGinty to the Pennsylvania Stormwater BMP Manual Oversight Committee, and to the Heinz Center’s Coastal Zone Innovations Committee.

As the Delaware Riverkeeper, van Rossum also serves on a number of the region’s water quality committees, including the Delaware River Basin Commission’s PCB’s Implementation Advisory Committee and Water Quality Advisory Committee, and on New Jersey’s Stormwater Focus Group. van Rossum serves as a member of the Area Plan Committee and the Area Maritime Security Committee, both of which are committees of the United States Coast Guard, the Philadelphia Group.

van Rossum’s River expertise is also valued by educational and art organizations. For example, in April 2015 van Rossum was asked to join the Advisory Committee for the Art@Bartram’s Advisory Council to give input into an arts initiative designed to bring people closer to the Schuylkill River and Bartram’s Garden.

van Rossum is a licensed attorney in three states: Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the District of Columbia. Since Spring 2002, van Rossum has served as an adjunct professor and director of the Environmental Law Clinic at Temple’s Beasley School of Law which she founded.

van Rossum generally focuses her attention on adult and young adult audiences, but she will offer her time and passion for speaking to younger generations as well, with a goal towards inspiring their love and care for our natural resources.

On November 2020, Maya van Rossum wrote a piece documenting current struggles facing the Delaware River: "Taking a stand in defense of the Delaware River - This is personal for me".

59c4553b67263d00017c01f9_Book-Cover-No-Shadow.pngFor decades, activists have relied on federal and state legislation to fight for a cleaner environment. And for decades, they’ve been fighting a losing battle. The sad truth is, our laws are designed to accommodate pollution rather than prevent it. It’s no wonder people feel powerless when it comes to preserving the quality of their water, air, public parks, and special natural spaces.

But there is a solution, argues veteran environmentalist Maya K. van Rossum: bypass the laws and turn to the ultimate authority — our state and federal constitutions.

In 2013, van Rossum and her team won a watershed legal victory that not only protected Pennsylvania communities from ruthless frackers but affirmed the constitutional right of people in the state to a clean and healthy environment. Following this victory, van Rossum inaugurated the Green Amendment movement, dedicated to empowering every American community to mobilize for constitutional change.

Now, with The Green Amendment, van Rossum lays out an inspiring new agenda for environmental advocacy, one that will finally empower people, level the playing field, and provide real hope for communities everywhere. Readers will discover:

  • how legislative environmentalism has failed communities across America,
  • the transformational difference environmental constitutionalism can make,
  • the economic imperative of environmental constitutionalism, and
  • how to take action in their communities.

100% of the proceeds from the sale of The Green Amendment go to the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. Buy it now

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network was featured on NJTV's program, "Here's the Story: Rivers".


  • For The Generations: The Right to Pure Water, Clean Air and a Health Environment – An Inspirational Story of Constitutional Environmental Rights.
  • The Delaware River’s story – a discussion of the past, present and potential future of the Delaware River and the communities that depend upon it.
  • Hot Issues Facing the Delaware River and its Watershed
  • Gas Drilling, Fracking, and all the Infrastructure They Require – the status, the future, and what this means for our watershed, region and country.
  • Pipelines – How Their Cuts Across the Landscape Harm our Forests, Rivers and Communities
  • Stormwater Runoff – its implications for water quality, flooding, and our communities
  • Enforcing Environmental Laws for Our River and Communities
  • Native Gardening for the River
  • Vegetated Stream Buffers & Healthy Floodplains -- Why How To Protect Them
  • Sprawl and Riverfront Development
  • Water Quality Threats
  • Critters of the River Basin and the Plights They Face.


  • BBC World Service Business Matters, Regular Guest and Contributor.
  • Idaho Speaker Series, "The Power and Importance of Green Amendments Nationwide", June 4-6, 2019
  • Rachel Carson Annual Open House at the Historic Rachel Carson House, Keynote Address, May 4, 2019.
  • "Going Green" in New York: A Conversation about the Proposed NY Environmental Bill of Rights, Keynote Address, April 24, 2019.
  • Motivational Speaker on the Environment, American University “Exploring Social Justice” Series, April 10, 2019.
  • University of Florida Public Interest Environmental Conference, Keynote Address, February 8, 2019.
  • Rutgers Environmental Stewards Commencement Ceremony, Keynote Address, November 10, 2018.
  • New York State Bar Association Environmental and Energy Law Section Legislative Forum, Keynote Address, May 23, 2018.
  • Tulane University Environmental Law & Policy Summit, Keynote Address, March 10, 2018.
  • Alliance for New Jersey Environmental Education Annual Conference, Keynote Address, February 19, 2018.
  • Midday on WNYC, Interview with Jami Floyd, February 23, 2018.
  • Global Energy and Environmental Law Podcast, Interview with Myanna Dellinger, 2018.
  • E&E News, January 5, 2018.
  • Law360 “We Need a Green Amendment”, Expert Analysis and Opinion piece, December 1, 2017.
  • 10th Annual DuPont Summit on Science, Technology & Environmental Policy, “Environmental Constitutionalism: A New Tool for Environmental Preservation,” December 1, 2017.
  • TedX talk, “A Healthy River: Protecting It for the Generations,” October 17, 2015.
  • National Environmental Justice Conference, “Pure Water, Clean Air and a Healthy Environment … For the Generations,” March 13, 2015.
  • Clean Communities Conference
    Speaking about the values of a clean and healthy Delaware River
  • May 23, 2014
  • Temple University Sustainability Forum
    Speaker: Dangers on the Delaware, Lessons from our Riverkeeper
  • Apr 16, 2014
  • Tri-State Sustainability Symposium
    A conference organized by the Delaware Valley Green Building Council Panel Titled “Reclaiming our Rivers, Schuylkill, Delaware and others”
  • March 7, 2014
  • Grid Alive
    Live guest on Philadelphia talk show organized and hosted by Grid Magazine.
  • Feb. 18, 2014
  • How Healthy is the Delaware River Watershed
    Guest on WHYY’s State Impact live forum discussing the health of the Delaware
    River and its watershed.
  • Nov 15, 2013
  • U.S. House of Representatives, Energy and Commerce Committee
    Provided testimony by invitation, regarding H.R. 1900, The Natural Gas Pipeline
    Permitting Reform Act
  • July 9, 2013
  • Forum on Fracking at Rider University
    On debate panel representing the perspective of sustainable energy and no fracking
  • Feb. 21, 2013
  • Delaware Estuary Science and Environmental Summit
    The Value of a Healthy River
  • Feb. 2, 2011
  • WHYY’s Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane
    One of two live guests debating the Delaware River Deepening project on WHYY Radio, also heard on NPR.
  • Feb 18, 2010
  • Pennsylvania Bar Institute – Environmental Law Forum
    Faculty - Delaware River Basin Commission and Regional Issues
  • Spring, 2009
  • Convention for the Common Good
    Environmental speaker and facilitator
  • July 12, 2008
  • Global Water Symposium hosted by Haverford College
    Keynote speaker
  • Mar. 29, 2008
  • Pennsylvania Bar Institute – Environmental Law Forum
    Faculty – Water Update
  • Spring 2008
  • 5th Annual Volunteer Monitoring Summit:
    Protecting New Jersey’s Water Resources, Improving Communication Between Stewards

    Keynote speaker
  • Nov. 29, 2007
  • Pennsylvania Bar Institute – Environmental Law Forum
    Faculty – Water Update
  • Spring 2007
  • Delaware Estuary Science Conference
    Panelist, Linkages Among Science, Management & Policy
    Improving Communication Between Stewards
  • Jan 23, 2007
  • Congressional Briefing: Delaware & Susquehanna River Basin flooding
  • July 25, 2006
  • The Center for Environmental Legal Studies
    Featured Speaker
    Co-sponsored by the Pace Energy and Climate Center, the Public Interest
    Center, and the Land Use Law Center of Pace University School of Law.
  • 2005
  • Watershed Summit on the Delaware: Making the Connection
    Closing Plenary Speaker
    Talk titled “Respecting Our River”
  • Sept 15, 2004
  • Pennsylvania Bar Institute – Environmental Law Forum
    Faculty – Water Quantity/Sprawl
  • April 2003
  • U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Natural Resources
    Provided testimony by invitation, regarding Wild & Scenic Designation
    for Lower Delaware River
  • July 18, 2000
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Water Camp
    For agency officials, about watershed planning
  • July 12-16, 1999


  • River Hero Award Recipient, River Network, 2020.
  • Named as one of Philadelphia Business Journal's Power 100, 2019.
  • Living Now Evergreen Awards GOLD Winner in the Nature Conservation category for The Green Amendment, 2018. The Living Now Evergreen Book Medals were founded to “commemorate world-changing books”.
  • Woman of the Delaware River Watershed, PennFuture, 2018.
  • Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Finalist for The Green Amendment, Foreword Magazine, Inc., 2017.
  • Modern Day Difference Maker, Women of the Revolution, 2016.
  • Certification of Appreciation for Environmental Commitment to Our Region, South Jersey Land & Water Trust, March, 2010
  • Radnor’s Hall of Fame, Inducted 2008
  • “Giraffe Hero” , “Because you’ve stuck your neck out to speak the truth no matter how unpopular that truth is.” June, 2008.
  • Inaugural Recipient, The Nicholas A. Robinson Environmental Award, in recognition of significant contributions to environmental law by a Pace Law School graduate. 2005
  • Women’s Environmental Advocacy Leadership Award,, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, presented by NJ DEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell, March 18, 2005
  • Touchstone Award, Society of Women Environmental Professionals, 2001
  • Water Bearer Award for Environmental Excellence, Clean Water Fund, 2001
  • Invited to testify, and did testify, before U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Resources, regarding Wild and Scenic Designation for the Lower Delaware River, July 18, 2000
  • The Robert P. Doherty Ribbon of Green Award, Darby Creek Valley Association, 2000
  • Advocacy Award, Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions, October, 1999
  • Outstanding Service Award, Widener University School of Law, 1998


  • New Jersey Governor Murphy’s Environment & Energy Transition Team, 2018.
  • New Jersey Flood Mitigation Task Force, April 2005 to 2006, appointed by Governor Codey.
  • Pennsylvania Delaware Basin Regional Water Resources Committee, October 2003 to 2009, appointed by Governor Rendell for two terms (2003 & 2005).
  • Delaware River Basin Flood Mitigation Task Force, 2006 to present, appointed by the Commissioners of the Delaware River Basin Commission.
  • Pennsylvania Stormwater Best Management Practices Manual Oversight Committee, August 2003 to December 2006, appointed by DEP Secretary McGinty.
  • Philadelphia Area Committee, United States Coast Guard, Group Philadelphia, December 2004 to present.
  • Area Maritime Security Committee, United States Coast Guard, Group Philadelphia, March 2005 to present.
  • Water Quality Advisory Committee, Delaware River Basin Commission, 2000 to present, currently serving as Chair for 2013/2014 year.
  • Toxics Advisory Committee, Delaware River Basin Commission, 1995 to present
  • PCBs TMDL Implementation Advisory Committee, Delaware River Basin Commission, August 2003 to present.
  • Steering Committee, Water Protection Network, a coalition of hundreds of organizations from around the country advocating to ensure water projects and policies are economically and environmentally sound (2010 to present)
  • PDE Alliance for Comprehensive Ecosystem Solutions, a regional committee looking at restoration priorities for the Delaware Estuary, February 2010 to present
  • Board of Directors, Waterkeeper Alliance, a national organization dedicated to the community’s right to clean and healthy waterways, 2002 to 2006
  • Coastal Zone Innovations Committee, The H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, 2003 to 2004.
  • Lower Delaware Wild & Scenic Management Plan Committee, and the Lower Delaware Advisory Committee.
  • Pennsylvania’s Citizen Volunteer Monitoring Panel, PA DEP, 1996.