Home > News Bytes > DRBC Celebrates Earth Day - 45 Years of Environmental Conservation, Preservation, and Action
DRBC Celebrates Earth Day - 45 Years of Environmental Conservation, Preservation, and Action

Since 1970, April 22 has been celebrated as Earth Day. Today, 45 years later, over one billion people participate in Earth Day activities annually, making it the largest civic observance in the world. 

One of the Earth's most precious resources is water. Essential for almost all forms of life, water is found in the atmosphere as vapor, on land in oceans, lakes, rivers, and snow, and also underground. Water is continuously recycled, condensing and falling as precipitation, running off land into various waterbodies, infiltrating the ground, and returning to the atmosphere through evaporation and transpiration. This process, known as the water cycle, is what allows for the replenishment and distribution of the Earth's water supply, which sustains our lives. 

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) has been a steward for the management of our shared interstate waters years before the first Earth Day, the formation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the passage of the Clean Water Act. Formed in 1961, and described by President Kennedy as a "bold venture," the DRBC is the nation's first federal-interstate compact agency, a regional body with the force of law to oversee a unified approach to managing a river basin without regard to political boundaries.

Since its creation, the DRBC has coordinated, and often led, collaborative and cooperative efforts to improve the quality of our basin's waters and to plan for a sustainable water supply. DRBC successes include major water quality initiatives and protections, drought management, and comprehensive watershed planning. Sections of the Delaware River near Philadelphia-Camden were once considered dead zones, almost or completely devoid of oxygen needed for the survival of fish and other aquatic life; now, the river supports year-round fish populations, as well as those returning to their natal waters to spawn. The river's non-tidal section is under special protection status, keeping the clean water clean. PCB loadings to the river have been significantly reduced thanks to commission regulations. The DRBC's drought management policy has allowed for multiple uses of the water resources, even in times of serious drought. In 2014, the commission's Water Resources Plan for the Delaware River Basin reached its ten-year milestone as the blueprint for planning in the watershed.

Whether it's turning off the tap while brushing our teeth to conserve water, turning off the lights when leaving a room to save energy, reducing waste and reusing and recycling more, or keeping our lands and waterways clean by not littering, we all can be stewards of the Earth and its natural resources. No action is too small, and everyone, no matter what age, can make a difference.

Just as celebrating Earth Day is as important today as it was 45 years ago, the DRBC remains an effective and successful model for federal-state collaboration, whose approach to integrated management of the shared water resources of the Delaware River Basin is adaptive and based on sound science. Over 15 million people rely on the waters of the Delaware River Basin for their daily needs, highlighting the importance of DRBC's work, and also that of our many partners, stakeholders, and everyday individuals who recognize that even though Earth Day only takes place one day a year, every day is Earth Day.