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PA 401 Certification


February 7, 2017 the PADEP issued 401 Certification for the PennEast pipeline.  The Certification was formally noticed in the February 25, addition of the PA Bulletin.  February 28 the Delaware Riverkeeper Network submitted a Petition for Review to the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.  (Appeal filed below).  

July 13, 2017 the Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s legal counsel argued in court that the third circuit should send the case back to the PA Environmental Hearing Board for review and identifying the myriad of ways that the oranization and its members had been denied critical rights as a result of the cart before the horse process the state, supported by PennEast, was utilizing.  To learn more about the arguments of the organization see the reply brief filed 8.7.17 below.

History of the Certification:

In a May 14, 2016 public notice PADEP announced its intent to issue a 401 Water Quality Certification pursuant to the Clean Water Act for the PennEast Pipeline Project.

A second request for comment was filed August 27, 2016, with a second 30 day comment period on what appears to be the identical filing of materials in May.

Key portions of the Application Submission and the public notice can be found in the resources below.

Additionally below you can find the comments and expert reports submitted by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network making the case to the state that they should deny the PennEast pipeline the Clean Water Act 401 Certification approval it is seeking.


Defending & Enhancing Species Protection / Restoration


Photo of large great white heron flying
Picture by Photo Frank

The Delaware River watershed is home to a wide variety of species in the water, in the air, in the trees and across the land.  The Delaware Riverkeeper Network regularly submits comments, crafts action plans and fact sheets, and undertakens other efforts to protect and defend the abundance and diversity of widlife in our watershed.   For some species we have ongoing initiatives, for others it is a matter of submitting critical comment or securing important research to advance or defeat a key decision or project.  Below are some of the many documents we have created, secured and submitted to protect our special species.  


Reverend Evers Park (Dormant)

Editor’s note: This issue is currently dormant. We will continue monitoring the situation and may take up the issue in the future.


DRN has developed a Master Plan for the park in collaboration with the Morgan Village Circle CDC.  This masterplan includes a focus on “Exercise and Ecology”.  Contact John Nystedt at for more information on this Master Plan.

In early 2015 DRN was awarded a NFWF grant, which is funding installation of riparian woodland restoration and widening, creation of a bioswale, and park plantings.  The project integrates job training as well as outreach/education.

Additional funders include the Foundation for a Better Tomorrow (2014 and 2015 grants), and the New Jersey Conservation Foundation (2015 Franklin Parker Small Grant Program).

Habitat and Rain Garden Project at Ithan Elementary School (Dormant)

Editor’s note: This issue is currently dormant. We will continue monitoring the situation and may take up the issue in the future.


The Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) is transforming an area at Radnor’s Ithan Elementary School that had been overwhelmed by invasives into an area dominated by native plants, and is creating three rain gardens that will slow, infiltrate, and clean stormwater runoff.  The effort will also result in healthy plant and animal habitat that can support environmental education at the school. 

Ithan School Restoration plan 1
Ithan School Restoration plan 2

Sheephole/Headquarters Road Bridge


The Delaware Riverkeeper Network is opposed to the destruction and replacement of the historic Headquarters Road Bridge (also known as Sheephole Bridge and Burnt Mill Bridge), a 200 year old historic structure. Experts have analyzed the bridge, the PADOT proposed replacement plans, and implications of both for the Exceptional Value Tinicum Creek. Based upon these expert analyses it is clear that replacement of the bridge:

  • Will harm ecological and historic resources
  • Will impact the health and quality of Tinicum Creek
  • Will diminish quality of life in Tinicum Township and Bucks County, will adversely affect the ecotourism experience in the region
  • Could undermine the Wild & Scenic designation of the Lower Delaware River and Tinicum Creek
  • Is not necessary to serve the traffic needs of the community
  • Will take longer and cost more than the rehabilitation of the existing structure

Despite our repeated efforts to convey this message to PADOT, they have continued to insist upon sticking to their predetermined course of action. In the process, PADOT is violating the mandates the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), and the Department of Transportation Act (DOTA). They have failed to adequately consider alternative options, consult the public, or consider the environmental and historic harm of their plans—as required by law. In addition, expert review of their claims has exposed PADOT’s misrepresentation of crash data in an effort to bolster their false safety claims.

Photo of the historic Headquarters Road Bridge

Moreover, PennDOT’s misrepresentation of facts in attempt to ensure their desired outcome of demolishing and rebuilding historic bridges in Bucks County is not unique to the Headquarters Road Bridge. Expert analysis demonstrates that both the Tettemer and Cafferty bridge projects were achieved through similar misrepresentations of data and avoidance of appropriate laws— at the detriment of the stream’s ecology and integrity, the town’s historic and cultural value, and safety conditions. These projects were not only unnecessary and damaging, but also expensive and hugely wasteful.
The DRN is working with Tinicum residents and relevant experts and agencies to hold PennDOT accountable and ensure they comply with required regulations in order to ensure the best outcome for both Tinicum Creek and the community.

Recent Press

Group challenges PennDOT evaluation to destroy historic Sheephole Bridge, Pennsylvania Record, 08/24/2017


PennDOT Bridge Projects Damaging Special Protection Streams

Tinicum Creek Bridge Projects Challenged


Ecological Restoration of the Paulins Kill River

The Paulins Kill River

In the Town of Highland, Sullivan County, New York, Northgate Resorts is proposing to overhaul the former Kittatinny Campground with an operation they call Camp FIMFO.  The proposal would transform most of the existing low impact tent camp sites to RV sites, cabins or glamping structures with water, sewage and/or electric hook ups; adding a mountain roller coaster, water slides, a swimming pool, mini golf, more parking, more septic systems, as well as replacing some of the old existing buildings with new.

The Paulins Kill river in northern New Jersey still maintains extraordinary biological diversity and high water quality, but the river has been fragmented by dams and has suffered from other human abuses for decades.  The Delaware Riverkeeper Network has been working with the State of New Jersey and a number of outstanding groups (including the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Park Service, The Nature Conservancy, American Rivers, and the Academy of Natural Sciences) to both reverse the historical damage to the ecosystem and to bolster the diversity of native species that continue to live within the system.

Among the most important positive steps forward has been the removal of the first dam on the Paulins Kill in 2018.  The Columbia Lake Dam was located less than a half mile upstream from the Delaware River confluence, blocking the strong runs of migratory fish still thriving in the Delaware River from utilizing the Paulins Kill watershed.  Led by the State of New Jersey, the Nature Conservancy, and American River, this first-blockage dam was removed beginning in August of 2018, with documentation of migratory fish returning to the Paulins Kill already in both 2019 and 2020!!.

But the return of migratory fish (including American Eel and American Shad) is just the beginning of the broader ecological restoration of the Paulins Kill.  Further work by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and its partners seeks a more complete and holistic recovery of water quality and ecological diversity, including such key species as freshwater pearly mussels.

Watch this video from our 2019 Paulins Kill Mussel Survey: