At just 330 miles in length, the Delaware River may seem humble compared to other great rivers in the U.S. Yet few other river systems give so much to so many in such a condensed geography. Seventeen million people-- a staggering 5% of the entire U.S. population!-- benefit from the Delaware’s clean water every day. It supplies nearly 50% of the drinking water supply for New York City, 100% for the city of Philadelphia, and almost 20% of the water supply for communities throughout the state of New Jersey.
Today, the Delaware faces a variety of serious and growing threats, including polluted stormwater runoff, rising sea levels and coastal flooding, erosion and habitat loss, and changes in natural river flow. The Nature Conservancy is working across the entire Delaware River Basin to address the challenges to this critical waterway.
The Delaware, a people-friendly “backyard treasure, is well worth protecting, contributing more than $22 billion in annual value to the regional economy. It powers a robust tourism and recreation industry, from the waterfront restaurants of quaint river towns to the scenic beauty of the Delaware Water Gap National Park, which receives more visitors annually than Yellowstone, Yosemite or Mount Rushmore.
It is also a place of great ecological importance. The great diversity of wildlife that rely on the Delaware River and Bay includes important and threatened species of fish, like Atlantic sturgeon and American shad, as well as forest mammals like bobcat, bear, fisher and fox. The Delaware Bay hosts one of the world's truly epic migrations of American horseshoe crabs and shorebirds, like the endangered red knot, that depend on them to survive.
From George Washington to Walt Whitman, from the critical to the quirky, the Delaware continues to inspire and sustain people and nature.
View an infographic to learn more about the value of the Delaware.
Explore our top ten travel destinations along the Delaware River and Bay.
See the great diversity of wildlife that rely on the Delaware River and Bay.
This large-scale, innovative oyster restoration project in southern New Jersey will reshape existing coastline and improve habitat for coastal birds.
We’re working to improve water quality and habitat for endangered Atlantic sturgeon on the Delaware River.
We are planting 15,000 native trees on 50 acres of degraded floodplain at the Neversink River Preserve. Floodplain forests are among the richest habitats for wildlife, and can provide an effective and low-cost way to alleviate flooding for downstream communities.
We’re working with partners to develop innovative funding strategies to finance the restoration of the Brandywine-Christina watershed to fishable, swimmable, and potable status by 2025.