More than 50 PA officials call for stronger protections for Delaware River

Pennsylvania elected officials called on the Department of Environmental Protection to close a loophole that would set lower water quality standards along the Philadelphia stretch of the Delaware River.

The Delaware River on the Pennsylvania-New Jersey boarder.

Dear PA-DEP, 

As part of the current public comment period for the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) 2023 proposal for the Delaware River’s Triennial Review, we respectfully request that the Department remove its current policy that sets lower water quality standards for a section of the Delaware River that flows past many of our districts, and is enjoyed by so many of our constituents: through Philadelphia and the City of Chester.  

Instead, we respectfully request that DEP designate this 27-mile stretch of the Delaware River for “primary contact water quality standards” within the agency’s finalized 2023 Triennial Review.  

Yet for years, DEP has kept a rule on the books that allows more pollution into the 27 miles of the Delaware that flow through Philadelphia and down to Chester, than is allowed anywhere else along the other 300 miles of the Delaware River.  

On behalf of our constituents, we would prefer that the quality of the water be suitable for wading, boating, swimming and other recreational activities. Instead, under the current conditions, up to 15 billion gallons of untreated wastewater is discharged into this section of the Delaware every year. This sewage and runoff pollution can contain toxic substances, bacteria, and viruses and result in intestinal infections, vomiting, fever, headache and other illnesses.  

 We join the US EPA in strongly urging the Commonwealth to end this exemption that allows more pollution in the Delaware River in and around Philadelphia.  Ensuring that DEP sets a good water quality standard from this portion of the River is key to ensuring that it is a cleaner and healthier segment of the river.    

Ensuring that this water is safe and healthy is a matter of health, safety, and of environmental justice for the predominantly black and brown communities living in Philadelphia and the City of Chester. Our constituents deserve the same clean water protections as more affluent communities up and down the Delaware River. 

Thank you for taking this into consideration. We hope you will amend the 2023 proposed Triennial Review for the Delaware River to include primary contact water quality standards for the 27-mile stretch of the river that runs through Philadelphia and the City of Chester.  


State Officials:

State Representative Elizabeth Fiedler

State Representative Lisa Borowski

Speaker of the House Matthew Bradford

State Representative Tim Brennan

State Representative Tim Briggs

State Representative Morgan Cephas

State Representative Mary Jo Daley

State Representative Dave Delloso

State Representative Danielle Friel-Otten

State Representative Pat Gallagher

State Representative Roni Green

State Representative Joe Hohenstein

State Representative Mary Isaacson

State Representative Carol Kazeem

State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta

State Representative Tarik Khan

State Representative Rick Krajewski

State Representative Jennifer O’Mara

State Representative Darisha Parker

State Representative Chris Pielli

State Representative Tarah Probst

State Representative Chris Rabb

State Representative Ben Sanchez

State Representative Chris Sappey

State Representative Greg Scott

State Representative Melissa Shusterman

Chairman of the House Environmental and Energy Resources Committee Greg Vitali

State Representative Ben Waxman

State Representative Joe Webster

State Senator Amanda Cappelletti

State Senator Carolyn Comitta

State Senator Jimmy Dillon

State Senator Steve Santarsiero

State Senator Nikil Saval


Local Officials:

Michele Becci, Councilwoman, New Hope Boro

Joseph F. Boylan, Morton Borough Council, Finance Chair

Larry Browne, Doylestown Borough Council

Phil Dague, Mayor Borough of Downingtown 

Louise Feder, New Hope Borough Councilwoman

Joseph Frederick, Doylestown Borough Council

Connie Gering, President New Hope Borough

Jim Lee, Ward 3 Commissioner, Springfield Township

Christopher Manero, Chair, Plymouth Township Council

Wendy Margolis, Vice President of Doylestown Borough Council

Josh Maxwell, Chester County Commissioner

Martin Miller,  Commissioner, West Norriton Township

Gary Neights, Lower Providence Township Supervisor

Robert Kinney, Council-member Elect, Doylestown Borough

Tina Sokolowski, Vice President Conshohocken Borough Council

John Spiegelman, Ward 11 Commissioner & Board President Emeritus, Abington Twp

Mark Squilla, Philadelphia City Councilman

Sharon Yates, Township Supervisor, Valley Township

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