Protecting the Watershed


Protecting the Watershed

Fifty environmental organizations have joined forces in an unprecedented collaboration to protect and restore the Delaware River watershed.

“The Delaware River Watershed Initiative is an unprecedented effort to address complex, overlapping issues. What excites me is the strong emphasis on science with significant investment in monitoring and assessment of water chemistry and ecological communities to record change, and the development of a research agenda to fill gaps in scientific knowledge.”
Carol R. Collier, Senior Advisor for Watershed Management and Policy and Program Director for Environmental Studies and Sustainability, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Four states. 13,500 square miles. 15 million people. The Delaware River watershed is a source of water across a large region, but fragmented approaches to its protection make its water quality highly vulnerable to degradation. Foundation grants totaling more than $35 million over three years are aligning and accelerating collaborative efforts to demonstrate more effective ways to permanently preserve critical watershed lands and restore degraded waterways.

Defining the Framework

The Delaware River Watershed Initiative (DRWI) used data and scientific analysis to identify target areas within the watershed where actions are most likely to have the greatest impact in addressing four threats: loss of forests, depletion of underground water supplies, agricultural runoff, and stormwater. By design, Foundation grants focus on eight geographic areas and these four threats.

Aligning Action

The Delaware River watershed is home to many conservation organizations that have led successful preservation and restoration efforts. Now, with Foundation support through the DRWI, nearly 50 of these organizations are capitalizing on an unprecedented commitment to knit their work together in new ways. DRWI partners have prioritized project areas and aligned work to accelerate conservation. In addition, the Institute for Conservation Leadership, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Open Space Institute are working across all eight areas to facilitate these aligned efforts through capacity building, technical assistance, and re-grant programs.


Measuring Impact

The ability to monitor water quality over time and across project areas is critical. For the first time, the Academy of Natural Sciences established standardized approaches to water quality monitoring in the Delaware River watershed to ensure consistency across all project areas. The data that results will be a powerful tool to demonstrate impact of this conservation work over time.


Photo Credit Sylvan Klein