Report | PennEnvironment Research and Policy Center

Rough Waters Ahead

The Delaware River is critical to the health and welfare of our families, our communities, and wildlife. The longest undammed river east of the Mississippi, the Delaware traverses four states – New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware – and its watershed supplies drinking water to more than 15 million people, including residents of New York City and Philadelphia.
Today, much of the Delaware River is clean enough for fishing and swimming. But, it wasn’t always that way. In the 1950s, the urban portion of the Delaware River was one of the most polluted stretches of river in the world. It took the dedicated work of local, state and federal governments – along with local residents – to turn the tide and begin the long process of restoring the Delaware to health.