According to the most recent available data, the Delaware River Watershed provides drinking water to an estimated 13.3 million people, including two out of the five largest metropolitan centers in the country: New York City and Philadelphia.

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The Watershed supports over $25 billion in annual economic activity, including recreation, ecotourism, hunting and fishing, water supply, and ports. Additionally, the Watershed provides an estimated $21 billion in ecosystem services to the region, including water filtration, carbon sequestration, and habitats such as forests and wetlands.

As the longest undammed river east of the Mississippi, the Delaware River provides habitat for over 200 resident and migrant fish species, hosts significant recreational fishers, and is an important source of oyster, blue crab, and the largest population of American horseshoe crabs. The Watershed is also home to the Delaware Water Gap (one of the country's most visited National Park units), more than 400 miles of National Wild and Scenic Rivers, six National Wildlife Refuges, and one of the largest systems in the National Estuary Program.

Recently, the U.S. Geological Survey's Water Census identified the Delaware River Watershed as one of three areas of national focus. The Coalition is working to continue increasing awareness of the Watershed and its importance not only to the Mid-Atlantic region, but to the nation as a whole.

There are many watershed and stakeholder groups and partners working throughout the Delaware River Watershed. To learn more about these organizations, visit

Regions of the Watershed

The Delaware River Watershed is divided into four general regions:

Wild and Scenic

Three areas of the Delaware River Basin have been included in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Three-quarters of the non-tidal Delaware River is now included in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

Photograph from the    National Park Service

Photograph from the National Park Service

Upper Delaware:

This 73-mile stretch of river flows between Hancock and Sparrow Bush, New York, along the Pennsylvania border. The Roebling Bridge, believed to be the oldest existing wire cable suspension bridge, spans the river. The Zane Grey House and museum are located here.

Middle Delaware:

The Middle Delaware segment is a 40-mile stretch from just south of Port Jervis, NY downstream to the Delaware Water Gap near Stroudsburg, PA. This segment of the Delaware flows through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and cuts an "S" curve through Kittatinny Ridge. This beautiful landscape provides great recreational opportunities in addition to sightseeing and geological study value. Sections of the Musconetcong River, are included in this area.

Lower Delaware:

The Lower Delaware Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, signed into law on November 2000, added a 38.9-mile section of the main stem Delaware (and about 28 miles of selected tributaries) to the national system, linking the Delaware Water Gap and Washington Crossing just upstream of Trenton, NJ (Delaware River Basin Commission). Included in this area are sections of the Maurice River in New Jersey and the White Clay Creek in Pennsylvania and Delaware.


A watershed is an area of land that drains all the streams and rainfall to a common outlet such as a reservoir, mouth of a bay, or any point along a stream channel. The word watershed is sometimes used interchangeably with drainage basin or catchment. Watersheds are important because the streamflow and the water quality of a river are affected by things, human-induced or not, happening in the land area "above" the river-outflow point (USGS Water Science School).

Check out this great video on watersheds by Caring for Our Watersheds:

Photograph by Nicholas A. Tonelli.