Protecting Our Waters

In a win for the Delaware River, the EPA agrees to raise water quality standards

The EPA will update water quality standards for the lower Delaware River that haven't been changed in more than a half-century.

Clean water

Bruce.Emmerling via Flickr | Public Domain
The EPA will set new water quality standards for the Delaware River from Trenton, N.J., to Wilmington, Del., a stretch that includes major urban centers such as Philadelphia.

For the first time since the passage of the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will update water quality standards for the Delaware River.

On Dec. 2, the EPA granted a petition brought by groups including Environment New Jersey and PennEnvironment, calling for improved water quality standards for the lower Delaware River. For years, Environment New Jersey and PennEnvironment have called for the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to update the ecological standards for the river, which haven’t been updated since 1967.

Commenting on this progress, Environment New Jersey State Director Doug O’Malley said, “Today’s decision by the EPA to grant our petition is an extraordinary step to recognize the lack of action by DRBC on this issue for decades, and to finally ensure the lower Delaware River can be a healthy, vibrant river.”

The EPA’s new standard will be implemented next year and will be critical for protecting the lower Delaware and its wildlife, including the endangered Atlantic sturgeon.

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