Analysis: Repealing the Clean Water Rule would be Devastating for the Delaware River Watershed

Environment America

Philadelphia, PA – New analysis by Environment America shows 55% of all stream miles in the Delaware River Watershed will be left without federal protections by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s proposal to repeal the Clean Water Rule. The Clean Water Rule restored federal protections to half our nation’s streams and thousands of wetlands across the country, including 7,858 miles of streams in the Delaware River basin.

“Repealing the Clean Water Rule would be devastating to the Delaware River basin: Instead of safeguarding our drinking water, Administrator Pruitt is proposing to stop protecting drinking water sources for 1 in 3 Americans, including 6.2 million people who live in Delaware River basin counties. It defies common sense, sound science and the will of the American people,” said Megan DeSmedt, Clean Water Campaign Director with PennEnvironment.DRB intermittent ephemeral headwater streams low res.jpg

Clean water is vital to our ecology, our health, and our quality of life.  We are already seeing drinking water contaminated by algal blooms and toxic chemicals, and a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico that scientists now estimate will be the size of New Jersey this summer. The last thing we should do is weaken protections for our water.

Finalized in 2015, the Clean Water Rule restored federal protections to half the nation’s streams, which help provide drinking water to one in every three Americans.  The rule also protects millions of acres of wetlands that provide wildlife habitat and keep pollutants out of America’s great waterways, from the Delaware River to the Chesapeake Bay.

More than 800,000 Americans – including more than 1,000 business owners, local officials, farmers, and health professionals – supported the historic clean water rule.  On the other side, the most vociferous opponents of the rule include the oil and gas industry, coal companies, developers, and lobbyists for corporate agribusiness.

“From Ridley Creek to the Wissahickon to the Delaware Water Gap, these are the places we like to fish, swim, canoe, and just enjoy the scenery with our families.We also rely on these waterways for drinking water, and they need more federal protections not less. We call on the EPA to reconsider this reckless repeal and stand up for our drinking water, not for polluters,” said DeSmedt.


The list of counties in the Delaware River Basin came from U.S. Census Bureau, Cartographic Boundary Shapefiles – Counties, 2016, accessed June 2017, archived at Information about the number of people dependent on drinking water from intermittent, ephemeral and headwater streams, and miles of those streams by county was obtained from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Analysis of the Surface Drinking Water Provided by Intermittent, Ephemeral, and Headwater Streams in the U.S.: County Results, July 2009. Not all residents of a given county live within the Delaware River Basin, and thus the population figure includes some people who are dependent on intermittent, ephemeral or headwater streams located in an adjacent watershed.

The calculation of total miles of intermittent, ephemeral or headwater streams in the Delaware River Basin was obtained from U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Hydrography Dataset Plus, medium resolution value-added attribute (VAA) database, accessed June 2017 at

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