Home > Newsroom > News Releases > DCNR Names Delaware River 2002 'River Of The Year'
DCNR Names Delaware River 2002 'River Of The Year'

Department of Conservation
and Natural Resources
Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120


DCNR (717) 772-9101
DRBC (609) 883-9500  

HARRISBURG (January 28, 2002) — It helped George Washington win a battle. William Penn sealed a deal with the Lenape Indians along its banks. America’s Industrial Revolution was fueled by it. And now, in 2002, the 330-mile-long Delaware River has been chosen Pennsylvania’s “River of the Year” by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).

“The Delaware is a river of extraordinary quality and purpose, a resource that touches millions of lives in multiple states,” DCNR Secretary John C. Oliver said. “The river and the people who work so diligently to protect and enhance it are well-deserving of this recognition from the Commonwealth.

“Although the Delaware doesn’t start or end in Pennsylvania, we consider our state its ‘home.’ With 250 miles of the river forming Pennsylvania’s eastern border, it literally defines our state.”

As River of the Year, the Delaware will be the subject of the June Rivers Month 2002 poster to raise awareness of the beauty and recreational, tourism and heritage values of rivers. The Juniata River was last year’s featured river.

The Delaware also will be Pennsylvania’s featured river sojourn, titled “The Delaware: A Revolutionary River,” as part of June Rivers Month. The recreational and educational float down the Delaware will take place May 31 to June 8. This will be the eighth Delaware River sojourn.

“The Delaware has played a significant role in the Commonwealth’s and nation’s history and continues to play a growing role in commerce, recreation and industrial development,” said Carol R. Collier, Executive Director of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) and Chair of the Delaware River Sojourn Steering Committee. “The river’s amenities are drawing people back to older cities and towns, with major waterfront revitalization projects occurring in places like Philadelphia and Bristol.

“As an interstate waterway, the Delaware provides an important lesson in watershed management—planning based on natural boundaries, not political ones.”

As the longest, un-dammed river east of the Mississippi River, the Delaware and its tributaries provide water to more than 17 million people in four states. Roughly half of New York City’s water comes from Delaware River headwater reservoirs. The Delaware and its tributaries also serve Philadelphia and a cluster of other nearby riverbank cities, which collectively comprise the world’s largest freshwater port.

“One of the reasons we chose the Delaware is to recognize its diverse resources and purposes,” Secretary Oliver said. “The upper river supports a world-class fishery, and canoes and kayaks are challenged by its riffles. In the lower river, cargo ships and barges ship products supporting a myriad of industries, including one of the nation’s largest oil refining-petrochemical centers.”

As the result of the comeback in water quality and the growing appreciation for the Delaware’s esthetic, heritage and recreational qualities, three quarters of the river and tributary streams are included in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

The Delaware River also is a key component of the Delaware and Lehigh National and State Heritage Corridor, a state- and federal-designated five-county region in Pennsylvania that conserves, interprets and promotes the rich heritage surrounding the Delaware and Lehigh rivers, their canal systems and tributaries.

Since 1995, DCNR has provided funding and technical assistance to local watershed organizations, conservancies, and local governments to develop river conservation plans for the Pennsylvania portion of the Delaware watershed. Thirty-eight plans—undertaking more than 30 projects to restore, maintain or enhance local watersheds—are underway or have been completed. The plans cover 86 percent of the watershed.

The DRBC currently is leading a two-and-a-half year effort, with the input of many organizations, to develop a comprehensive water-resources plan for the Delaware River Watershed. This results-oriented plan will set the direction and priorities for watershed management for the next 30 years and establish indicators by which to measure progress.

“The combination of growing public interest in the river and the current planning process for its future provides an excellent backdrop for Pennsylvania to select the Delaware as the 2002 River of the Year,” Collier said.

For more information on Pennsylvania’s rivers, river sojourns or DCNR’s river conservation grant programs, visit the PA PowerPort at www.state.pa.us, PA Keyword “Rivers.”

# # #