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Our Shared Waters: A Look at the Delaware River Basin
Our Shared Waters logo.

Our Shared Waters: A Look at the Delaware River Basin is a DRBC-managed public outreach effort of multiple Delaware River Basin stakeholder groups.

Program Goals

• Educate the public and decisionmakers about the current state of the Basin and the opportunities available to play a role in its continued sustainability.

• Connect people to their local waterways, connect with one another and connect with the bigger picture – we’re all a part of the Delaware River Basin.

Through education, outreach and experiential learning, the millions of people who depend on the waters of the Delaware River Basin will have a better understanding of its importance and how they too can play a part in protecting its waters – our shared waters – for current and future generations.

Program Background

As DRBC was putting the finishing touches on its most recent State of the Basin Report, we realized that, in addition to sharing the Commission's view of the state of the Basin, we also wanted to create a comprehensive overview of the Basin’s waters by including inputs from a wide range of stakeholders, including public and private water purveyors, NGOs, non-profits and residents. 

Further, we wanted to create a broad outreach campaign - encompassing an online/digital presence, community event participation, and experiential opportunities for Basin residents - to share information about the Basin's waters, as well as help our partners spread the word about their organizations, upcoming events and activities to a Basin-wide audience. 

DRBC submitted an application to the William Penn Foundation (WPF) to support this effort, which was granted in early 2019. The WPF supports this program's goal of collectively bringing together multiple interested parties to look at the State of Our Basin and its critical role in supporting clean, healthy water for drinking and other everyday needs, as well as for business, industry, recreation and fish and wildlife.

While DRBC got the funding from WPF, and we facilitate Our Shared Waters’ different components, this isn’t a DRBC program. It belongs to all of us who work, play and depend on the waters of the Delaware River Basin.

The grant is currently slated to go through October 2022.

More Information

OSW Activities in 2019
Kids learn about aquatic insects at the 2019 Trenton River Days Fair. Photo by DRBC. 
Kids learn about aquatic insects at the 2019 Trenton River
Days Fair.
DRBC teamed up with the Steamboat SPLASH,
an OSW partner,
to exhibit at this event. Photo by DRBC. 

Once the grant was awarded, the first steps were to develop a webpage and a Facebook page (see links above).

Community Events

DRBC and its partners participated in a variety of community events in 2019. These efforts helped us connect face-to-face with the public, share information about the Delaware River and the many organizations that are working to protect it and encourage stewardship of our shared water resources.

Visit our Newsbytes Archive to learn more about the various outreach-related activities we participated in throughout the year.

Delaware River Sojourn Scholarship Program

The campaign also supports experiential opportunities to get people on or along the Basin's waterways.

In 2019, working with the Delaware River Sojourn, several "Sojourn Scholarships" were offered to individuals for a day of safe paddling and learning on the river. We welcomed Emily Pugliese and Jordan Brunette of Pa. State Senator Art Haywood’s staff (4th District), Erica Rosetti of the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Chancey Colon, a constituent of N.J. State Senator Shirley Turner (15th District), and Mike James and Brian Lestini, constituents of N.J. Assemblywoman Carol Murphy (7th District). All left with a greater appreciation for the river and the role it plays in our daily lives. Check out the above link for photos and a short video about the Sojourn that shares feedback from several of these scholars.

More Information

Our Shared Waters: A Look at the Delaware River Basin - blog post for the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed (Sept. 2019)

Our Shared Waters Campaign - presentation given at the DRBC Water Management Advisory Committee Meeting (Oct. 2019; pdf)

The State of the Basin 2019: Our Shared Waters - presentation given at the Water Resources Association of the Delaware River Basin's Fall Technical Symposium (Nov. 2019; pdf)

OSW Activities in 2020
Image of the Rate Your Waters webpage. 
The Rate Your Waters webpage.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to our robust plan for outreach activities and experiential events before we could even start.

While in-person events were not possible, we did roll out several components of the OSW campaign.

Map & Videos

An illustrated map of the Delaware River Basin (jpg) was created. Hard copies were printed and shared with OSW partners.

Several educational videos were created. One, entitled Good Bugs Mean Healthy Rivers, was developed for the virtual Delaware River Festival. Two craft activity videos were developed for kids: Do It Yourself Horseshoe Crab Hat and Do It Yourself (Freshwater) Mussel Hat. And, a video about baseball rubbing mud featuring former Phillies Pitcher Cole Irvin was also created.

Rate Your Waters

The campaign's Rate Your Waters initiative was launched. Rate Your Waters is a crowd-sourced water quality data site. Its purpose is to get people thinking about their local waterways when they are out recreating. It also is a way for people to share information about their favorite place to hike, fish or paddle. Members of the public can enter info and photos on the map about their favorite DRB waterway, and watershed groups, teachers, students, etc. can enter more specific water quality data and reports to share. As more people enter information, the goal is for Rate Your Waters to be a valuable resource of information, by the people, for the people.

How does Rate Your Waters work?

When people are hiking/walking along, fishing or paddling a Delaware River Basin waterway, take a moment and grab a photo and note a few things about the waterway - for example, does the water smell, is it clear and how is the flow? Do you see a lot of trash or erosion? Then, visit the website, enter your rating and upload your photo! While there, be sure to check out what others are saying, as you can see ratings submitted by others. The site also includes fun facts about the Basin, providing additional education about this important watershed that encompasses over 13,000 square miles in four states and provides water to over 13 million people.

OSW Activities in 2021
The Schuylkill River Sojourn is organized by Schuylkill River Greenways (SRG). Pictured here is SRG's Diana Maher (L) and Sojourn Scholars Fran N. and Hana E. Photo by DRBC.
PA legislators pose for a photo aboard the Kalmar Nyckel. Top, L to R: PA Sen. Tomlinson, PA Sen. Haywood, PA Rep. Warren and PA Rep. Webster. Bottom L to R: PA Rep. Tomlinson, PA Rep. Isaacson, PA Rep. Schroeder and PA Rep. Vitali. Photo by DRBC.
(Top): Schuykill River Greenway's Diana
Maher (L) & Sojourn Scholars Fran N.
and Hana E. (Bottom): PA legislators pose
for a photo aboard the Kalmar Nyckel.
Photos by DRBC.

While there has been a return to some normal activity in 2021, due to the pandemic, in-person outreach activities were still limited. 

Sojourn Scholarship Program

The Sojourn Scholarship program was expanded to the Lehigh and Schuylkill River Sojourns, in addition to the Delaware River Sojourn.

Getting people connected to rivers through paddling - and therefore creating new river stewards - is a mission shared by Sojourn organizers and the OSW program.

• The Lehigh River Sojourn took place from June 26-28, 2021. Fourteen individuals were given the opportunity to raft the Lehigh River on June 26 as part of the OSW scholarship program.

• The Schuylkill River Sojourn took place July 31-August 4, 2021. Five individuals were given the opportunity to paddle the Schuylkill River on August 4 as part of the OSW scholarship program.

• The Delaware River Sojourn took place August 6-13, 2021. Five individuals were given the opportunity to paddle the Delaware River on August 13 as part of the OSW scholarship program.

Learn More:

DRBC Our Shared Waters' Sojourn Scholarships Connect People & Rivers through Paddling

OSW Blog: Perspectives on Paddling: Experiences from the 2021 Summer River Sojourns

Experiential Sails aboard the Kalmar Nyckel

OSW partnered with the Kalmar Nyckel to get people sailing on the Delaware River. These sails were geared for local legislators and community members.

While sailing, attendees heard from DRBC staff and local businesses about why a sustainable, clean water supply is vital for all - people, business and wildlife - who depend on these water resources.

Two Sails were Held:

• One out of NewCastle, Del. in August 2021. Unfortunately, extreme heat prevented the sail, but participants got to tour the boat before heading to a local restaurant for the lunch & learn.

• One out of Bristol, Pa. in September 2021. The weather cooperated for this sail, and participants were treated to a lunch and learn journey on the Delaware River.

Learn More:

Let’s Go Sailing: DRBC’s Our Shared Waters Program Hosts Experiential Learning Aboard the Kalmar Nyckel

• OSW Blog: A Sail on the Delaware, a Field Lesson about Protecting Our Shared Waters

Other Planned Activities

• Developing a DRB water quality education module with the Alliance for Watershed Education

• Working with Lighthawk to create aerial videos of the DRB