Delaware River Named 2020 River of the Year by American Rivers

Delaware River Named 2020 River of the Year by American Rivers

American Rivers named the Delaware River its 2020 River of the Year. 

Last month, the national organization American Rivers named the Delaware River their 2020 River of the Year.

This honorary designation celebrates the great progress and ongoing work towards clean water and river restoration. As American Rivers President/CEO Bob Irvin explained, “The Delaware shows how a healthy river can be an engine for thriving communities and strong local economies.”

DRBC has been at the forefront of the collective efforts to restore the Delaware since its creation in 1961, which was years before the EPA, first Earth Day and the 1972 Clean Water Act (CWA). The DRBC was formed by the four Basin states and the federal government as the solution to manage the Basin’s water resources collectively and cooperatively.

And, the river needed this type of holistic watershed management. By the mid-1900s, the urbanized part of river around Philadelphia was being used as an open sewer, making it devoid of the oxygen needed for the survival of aquatic life. DRBC’s first tasks were to create a “pollution diet” for dischargers, develop water quality criteria and regulations to enforce the established standards.

Recently, what was once a cesspool is a river reborn. Fish populations have returned, and the river now contributes about $25 Billion in annual economic activity. People are flocking to the river for business and pleasure, wanting to reconnect with the river in ways that weren’t possible 50 years ago. Over 13.3 million people depend on the water resources of the Delaware River Basin.

Detailed plans and science-driven policy by the DRBC have helped lead to way for the river’s dramatic improvements we enjoy today. That said, we know that several partners have also contributed to the river’s success story: federal, state, local, NGOs and individual volunteers. The river is lucky to have dedicated stewards at all levels of government and in its local communities. 

We also know there is more work that needs to be done. We look forward to working with our partners and interested stakeholders all across the Basin to further manage, protect and improve its waters.

At DRBC, we celebrate the river day in and day out, and we are very pleased to see and proud that the Delaware received this recognition from a national organization.  

For more information on the Delaware River being named American Rivers’ 2020 River of the Year, please visit

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