EXPLAINER | Delaware Watershed
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Delaware Watershed

The crew on the Drillboat Apache brings in lines tied to explosives used to break up rocks at the bottom of the Delaware River near Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania. It’s one of the final stages of a controversial project to deepen the river’s shipping channel.

Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

The crew on the Drillboat Apache brings in lines tied to explosives used to break up rocks at the bottom of the Delaware River near Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania. It’s one of the final stages of a controversial project to deepen the river’s shipping channel.

StateImpact Pennsylvania, Newsworks.org, WHYY and NJ Spotlight are collaborating on a series of stories about the Delaware River Watershed.

The watershed stretches from upstate New York through Pennsylvania and New Jersey, emptying out in the Delaware Bay. It supplies water to more than 15 million people, or about 5% of the nation’s population. Its natural lands both protect clean water and provide a habitat of regional and hemispheric importance.

The story of the river includes stories of its people and wildlife that depend on it for survival; the threats to continued sources of clean water; and the river as an economic engine.

The project is funded by The William Penn Foundation. Below are contributions from StateImpact Pennsylvania.

Latest stories


A swimmer jumps into the Devil’s Pool in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Swimming in the Wissahickon isn’t so idyllic: There’s poop in it.

As much as 90 percent of the water in the Wissahickon is treated sewage that comes from four wastewater-treatment plants upstream. Apparently, most people just shrug it off.

By Catalina Jaramillo

Dolphins swim in the Shrewsbury River Wednesday, July 2, 2008, in Sea Bright, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

A missing gene could make marine mammals more vulnerable to common pesticides

Organophosphates drain off farms and make their way to the ocean, where they could be harming sea creatures like whales, dolphins and manatees.

By Catalina Jaramillo

Tank Creek was classified as an exceptional value stream by DEP in October 2017. It feeds into the Delaware River.

In the Poconos, a fight simmers over ‘exceptional’ streams

Six creeks recently gained special protection from the state. But some local businesses and landowners say the rules go too far.

By Catalina Jaramillo

Construction on the Mariner East 2 pipeline has faced myriad problems, including damaged water supplies and sinkholes in a residential neighborhood in Chester County.

DEP fines Sunoco for damaging drinking water in Berks, Chester and Lebanon counties in 2017

Construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline resulted in cloudy water for some; others lost use of their wells
By Susan Phillips

Sunoco's Mariner East 2 pipeline construction on Pennell Road in Middletown Township. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

PUC allows restart of Mariner East 2 construction in parts of Chester County

The agency agreed to have Sunoco continue construction at eight of 12 locations, where a judge halted work due to public safety and environmental concerns.

By Susan Phillips

The Horsham Air Guard Station in Bucks County, Pa. where the use of PFAS chemicals in firefighting foam has been linked with contamination of local water supplies.

EPA urged to set national standards to protect public health from PFAS chemicals

The agency held a public event north of Philadelphia in a community where elevated levels of the toxic chemical have been found. Several people said the federal government needs to take more action than it has so far.

By Jon Hurdle

Fishermen share a caught catfish at Pier 60 on the Delaware waterfront, near Tasker Street, in South Philadelphia, PA, on May 12, 2018. (Bastiaan Slabbers/for WHYY)
Updated: July 21, 2018 | 8:41 am

New Jersey issues first advisories for consumption of fish containing PFAS chemicals

State scientists recommend health limits for 12 species
By Jon Hurdle

A sign marks the path of the Mariner East 1 pipeline through Chester County.
Updated: July 17, 2018 | 4:13 pm

Independent study examining public safety risks of Mariner East pipelines

Community group commissions ‘quantitative risk analysis’ after county council deadlocks on proposal
By Jon Hurdle

The osprey population has grown in part because of a decline in contaminants in the Delaware estuary.

Delaware estuary’s ospreys recover as fish contaminants decline, report says

Population growth suggests overall improvement in region’s ecological health
By Jon Hurdle and Catalina Jaramillo

Stormwater drains in Philadelphia have traps to capture trash, but smaller pieces of plastic can get through all the way to the river.

Looking to cut plastics pollution in the ocean? Start upstream, experts say

As more plastic trash makes its way from city and town storm water drains to the ocean, a movement grows to focus on where the garbage is coming from.

By Catalina Jaramillo
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