The Delaware River is the longest free-flowing river in the eastern United States, spanning five states from its headwaters in the Catskills of New York to the mouth of the Delaware Bay. The watershed supplies clean drinking water to more than 5 percent of country, vital habitat for wildlife and is a historic and recreational treasure.
Unfortunately the capacity of the river to sustain fish and wildlife and the human community long-term is in question.
In the lower Basin, fish consumption advisories remain in effect for many communities and prime spawning beaches for signature species are fragmented and lost to development and rising sea levels. Degradation of natural defenses against floods have exacerbated natural disasters such as Superstorm Sandy and cost taxpayers millions in repairs. Nonpoint source pollution confronts all developed landscapes and legacy pollutants defy easy solutions. And new challenges to the watershed continue to arise, including the specter of gas drilling and emerging contaminants.
As the fiscal agent of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, the National Wildlife Federation is spearheading the charge to take several key actions.
Eight million people live in communities across the Delaware River Basin. The National Wildlife Federation and its partners want to further educate and connect these families to the river—upstream and downstream, land, and water—and help them advocate for clean drinking water and safe natural areas for wildlife.
From floodplains compromised by rapid development, to destruction of the shellfish and migratory fish that populated our waters, to polluted runoff in cities and towns, the National Wildlife Federation and its partners are committed to spreading the practices that keep our land and water safe and clean. Working with Coalition members, we are committed sharing critical information and best practices and championing federal policies that increase transparency and accountability for polluters.
Unlike other geographic watershed programs, the federal government has never had a comprehensive strategy addressing conservation, water quality, and fish and wildlife habitat protection. We will continue to advocate for federal dollars, matched with local and state dollars for on-the-ground work to protect water resources.
The purpose is plain: a clean Delaware for future generations. To achieve it we need to work together to protect nature, control pollution, and keep our water safe for children, families, and all whose lives and livelihoods depend on clean water. Our common bond is a belief that we all are accountable for a healthy watershed. We are the only coalition that bridges the gap between small groups and large, upstream and down, urban and rural. We believe that by working together we can do more.
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More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 53 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.