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Safe and Healthy Delaware River

Sign this Letter of Support  

We invite you to sign this letter of support for our Safe and Healthy Delaware River petition  to the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC). This petition will secure increased protections for those that enjoy swimming and recreating on the  Philadelphia and Camden reach of the Delaware River in ways that bring them into direct contact with the water.


All sections of the Delaware River are enjoyed in ways that bring people, including children, into direct contact with the water. While most sections of the River enjoy designations and regulations that protect primary contact recreation (things like swimming and kayaking), the stretch from the mouth of the Pompeston Creek down to the Commodore Barry Bridge (in short, the Philadelphia-Camden reach of the River), does not. By signing this letter of support for  our Safe & Healthy Delaware River petition, you can help us convince the Delaware River Basin Commission, as well as the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey that our urban River and its users are entitled to just as much protection, now and into the future, as the rest of the River. The map below shows stretch of the Delaware River in question:

Today, people enjoy our beautiful river in many ways that bring them into direct contact with the water, what is known as primary contact recreation, such as kayaking, swimming  and tubing. The regulations currently upheld by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), Pennsylvania and New Jersey fail to recognize that these primary contact recreation uses take place frequently on the Delaware River along Philadelphia and Camden. As a result, the current water quality standards cannot be relied upon to sufficiently protect the health and safety of individuals, children and families who enjoy primary contact recreation activities on this stretch of the Delaware River.

Our Petition

Our petition calls upon DRBC and the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania to recognize primary contact recreation as a designated use for this section of the Delaware River in order to conform with the mandates of the Clean Water Act as well as to modify the water quality standards to better protect the health and safety of those who participate in activities on the river that involve direct contact with the water.

It is important for those of us who enjoy the River today, and those whowill enjoy the River for generations to come, to know that the DRBC and other agencies have put in place regulatory protections that will ensure the healthy water quality necessary to fully support ongoing recreational uses of the river, including those that put us in direct contact with the water.

If you would like to sign on in support of locking in the environmental successes we have achieved to date, and helping to make more progress that will make our Delaware River even safer for those who enjoy the water in our urban reaches, please sign this letter of support for our Safe & Healthy Delaware Petition.

 You can read the full petition here.

In summary, the petition requests:

“…the Delaware River Basin Commission promptly upgrade the designated use of  Zone 3 and River Miles 95.0 to 81.8 of Zone 4 of the Delaware Estuary to include primary contact recreation. Zone 3 and Upper Zone 4 are currently designated only for secondary contact recreation. This designation is inconsistent with the existing uses of these portions of the Delaware River. A designation that includes primary contact recreation is needed to bring DRBC into conformance with the mandates of the Clean Water Act, thereby avoiding state, federal and/or interstate conflicts over the designated and existing uses of these Delaware River waters, and protecting those recreating on and in this portion of the Delaware River. Recognizing the existing use of primary contact recreation will ensure the DRBC and the member states prioritize putting in place, and enforcing, the standards and protections essential for those who are enjoying these reaches of the River for primary contact recreation. 

Petitioners are organizations that serve communities who live, work, and recreate in the Delaware River Watershed and have a strong interest in seeing the public’s uses of the River protected. Petitioners share a common interest in promoting the health and enjoyment of the Delaware River for the benefit of the public. Upgrading the designated use of Zone 3 and Upper Zone 4 of the Delaware Estuary to reflect the full array of their existing recreational uses, including primary contact, is necessary to protect the communities we serve and the health of the waterways our members rely on.”                                                              

Our Safe and Healthy Delaware River Petition and the supporting efforts of our Coalition of partners seeks to ensure that water quality standards governing the river provide protections to those that come into direct contact with the water during recreational activities.  According to the petition, the identified river reaches are heavily used in ways that bring people into direct contact with the water, including children. As a result, according to the environmental petitioners, the DRBC and the states should modify the existing legally designated uses to reflect the actual existing uses of the river. This action, the petitioners contend, is needed in order to ensure those recreating on the river receive the proper level of protection from pollution now and into the future.

A valued public resource

“The Delaware River is a valued public resource, it is a resource that belongs to the people.  Communities should be able to enjoy swimming, fishing, boating and utilizing the River for recreation knowing that our government officials are recognizing these uses and ensuring they are protected under the law for both present and future generations,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.  “We know that communities throughout the region are right now enjoying the River in ways that bring them into direct contact with the water.  All we are asking is for the DRBC to recognize this use and to ensure that standards are in place that are ensuring the ongoing protection of these uses.  All of the other reaches of the mainstem are protected for primary contact recreation, the urban reaches should be protected too.”

“Upgrading the water quality standards for this section of the Delaware River will not only make the river safer for the many people who recreate there now, but would represent a broader win for the health and safety of the public and the environment for generations to come,” saidJoe Minott, Executive Director of the Clean Air Council.

 “The Clean Water Act requires that our waters be protected for the way that people actually use them,” said PennFuture president and CEO Jacquelyn Bonomo. “This petition presents clear evidence and support that the community actually uses the urban sections of the Delaware River for things like swimming, tubing, and jet skiing. Because these uses put people, including children, in direct contact with the water, it is imperative that the DRBC and the states protect the water quality of this section of the river for primary contact. Ensuring the safety of our communities to use these waters for primary contact recreation is the legal responsibility of the DRBC.”

“The transformation of the lower Delaware River over the last 50 years is a direct testament to the power of the Clean Water Act to clean up our waterways. Yet the Act’s original vision to protect waterways based on how the public uses them isn’t being fulfilled in the lower Delaware – and that’s why the DRBC should act to meet the vision of the Clean Water Act,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “As water quality has improved along the Lower Delaware, the public is voting with their feet and their bodies – people are recreating in the Delaware. As our cities and river towns revive and access to the water is seen as a premium, the DRBC should protect the lower Delaware River for primary contact. The Delaware River should not be treated as a regulatory mixing zone – it is the people’s river and the DRBC should protect it for all recreational uses based on the Clean Water Act.”

The petition seeks to secure higher protections from River Mile 108, near the mouth of the Pompeston Creek, down to river mile 81.8, near the Commodore Barry Bridge – currently this reach of River is designated only for secondary contact recreation.  According to the petition, because this reach of river is heavily used in ways that bring people in direct contact with the water, the DRBC is legally obligated to recognize the primary contact uses and put in place higher standards that ensure protection of human health.  Survey results and data included in the petition demonstrate that the affected reach of the river is used for swimming, snorkeling, tubing, and jet skiing; it is also used by a wide variety of organizations such as the health and wellness organization Aqua Vida for paddleboard yoga, acro and fitness classes; and educational organizations such as Urban Promise that brings young people to the river for kayaking who, given their inexperience in paddling, do come into direct contact in the water.

“The Delaware River is an iconic part of the region’s natural heritage where visitors from throughout the Mid Atlantic and across the nation come to boat, fish, swim, hike and recreate, ” noted PennEnvironment Executive Director David Masur. “The action we’re taking today is a crucial step to ensure that we can restore and protect the Delaware River now and for future generations.”

“Our right to clean water has been denied since the industrial era. Although our water policies helped to improve some of the most egregious forms of pollution it has not gone far enough to clean up our shared resource. With the latest technology and science there is no reason why we can’t clean up the Delaware River,” said Jaclyn Rhoads, President of the Darby Creek Valley Association.

The petition explains that “secondary contact” recreation refers to activities where the probability of significant contact or water ingestion is minimal – according to federal regulation this includes things like boating and activities where people are expected to have limited contact with surface waters such as fishing from the shoreline. “Primary contact” recreation includes activities where people engage, or are likely to engage, in activities that could result in ingestion of, or immersion in, water, such as swimming and water-skiing.

“We strongly support the initiatives laid out in this petition. A stronger designation for these portions of the Delaware Estuary will ensure the water quality is optimal for recreational use. On-water organizations such as ours highly value clean water as we want our audiences to have the safest, most enjoyable river experience possible,” said Rupika Ketu, Environmental Program Coordinator for Glen Foerd on the Delaware.

The petition closes by urging: “Failure to recognize and protect the primary contact recreation uses taking place in the River today puts the health and safety of our River communities and river users at risk. The DRBC has the authority to initiate the necessary changes to accurately reflect the uses and activities that are actually taking place in the Delaware Estuary and in so doing to protect the communities that enjoy and depend upon a healthy Delaware River, including in Zones 3 and Upper Zone 4.”

Litigation: DRN & Delaware Riverkeeper v. PA DEP & Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.


In a December 18, 2012 legal filing, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Environmental Hearing Board was asked to issue an Order of Supersedeas that would prevent the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company from proceeding with mobilization and tree clearing, the first steps in construction of its proposed NorthEast Upgrade Project (TGP’s NEUP). The Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Responsible Drilling Alliance filed the petition, essentially a request for a stay of construction activity, together with their notices of appeal of three DEP permits issued for the project, in order to allow the groups enough time to pursue their legal challenge while maintaining the status quo. 

The Petition for Supersedeas requests the EHB to supersede the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) decisions to approve an Erosion & Sedimentation Control General Permit and to approve Water Obstruction & Encroachment permits for Wayne and Pike Counties for the TGP NEUP project. 

The Petition

The Petition, filed by attorneys on behalf of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the Responsible Drilling Alliance, and the Delaware Riverkeeper, Maya van Rossum, asserts that DEP’s decisions to approve TGP’s applications for these various permits violated the law in at least three ways. 

  • First, TGP has a record of recent and on-oing environmental violations on pipeline upgrade projects on the same pipeline that clearly shows TGP cannot be trusted to comply with environmental laws. 
  • Second, DEP approved the permits even though the permit applications failed to meet the substantive requirements of the regulations. 
  • Third, DEP issued the Erosion and Sediment Control permit despite unrebutted expert analysis from the Pike County Conservation District finding that TGP’s plans contained serious technical deficiencies. 

 The petition goes on to say: “Because DEP’s improper approval of TGP’s activities will result in the irreversible discharge of sediment into the tributaries of the Delaware River; the improper destruction of mature trees that prevent sediment from flowing into these tributaries and provide shading to regulate temperatures in streams and wetlands; long-lasting damage and even permanent destruction of Exceptional Value wetlands; and the disruption of macroinvertebrate populations during the time that DRN’s appeal is pending, DRN will suffer irreparable harm unless the Board supersedes DEP’s decisions and suspends the permits and permit authorization.” 

Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company’s Northeast Upgrade Project

Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company’s Northeast Upgrade Project is an interstate transmission line upgrade project.. The NEUP is the final pipeline upgrade project in TGP’s multi-stage 300 Line upgrade project, although TGP has misrepresented that reality in order to avoid critical environmental regulation and oversight. Three of the loops that are part of this project are located within the Delaware River Basin (Loops 321, 323, and 325), which span Wayne and Pike counties in Pennsylvania, and Sussex county in New Jersey. The project includes pipeline drilling activities under the Delaware River, significant new grading and clearing of previously undisturbed forested land and steep slopes, 90 stream crossings, 136 wetland crossings, and 450 acres of land development within our watershed alone. Highpoint State Park and Delaware State Forest are among the public lands to be damaged by this project. 

Currently, the western leg of the 300 Line runs from compressor station 219 in Mercer County, Pennsylvania to compressor station 313 in Potter County and consists of a 24-inch-diameter pipeline with a completed 30-inch-diameter loop along its entire length. Within the last 24 months Tennessee has applied to FERC for approval of four projects that together will compose the Eastern Leg of the 300 Line, starting at compressor station 313 in Potter County, Pennsylvania and stretching east to a delivery point in Mahwah, New Jersey.


Litigation: Delaware Riverkeeper Network, et. al. v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company

Federal Court Rules FERC Violated Federal Law When Issued Approvals for NEUP Pipeline Project 

Update:  FERC has failed to comply with the court’s ruling and revisit its NEPA review of this project – DRN is pressing the issue with the court.

In a decision issued June 6, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, ruled that the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the NJ Sierra Club and New Jersey Highlands Coalition were correct in their legal challenge to the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company’s Northeast Upgrade Project and ordered additional analysis and review.  Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s on staff attorneys were the lead in this legal action.

The Court stated: 

“On the record before us, we hold that in conducting its environmental review of the Northeast Project without considering the other connected, closely related, and interdependent projects on the Eastern Leg, FERC impermissibly segmented the environmental review in violation of NEPA. We also find that FERC’s EA is deficient in its failure to include any meaningful analysis of the cumulative impacts of the upgrade projects. We therefore grant the petition for review and remand the case to the Commission for further consideration of segmentation and cumulative impacts.” 

“On the record before us, we find that FERC acted arbitrarily in deciding to evaluate the environment effects of the Northeast Project independent of the other connected action on the Eastern Leg.” 

In May 2012 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a certificate of public convenience and necessity to Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company authorizing construction and operation of its Northeast Upgrade Project. Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the NJ Sierra Club and New Jersey Highlands Coalition argued that the approval was inappropriate because FERC had illegally segmented its environmental review of the Northeast Project by failing to consider three other connected and interdependent projects – the 300 Line Project, the Northeast Supply Diversification Project, the MPP Project – and by failing to provide a meaningful analysis of the cumulative impacts of the projects. 

DRN on the Decision

Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper said about the decision: “This is important vindication of the rights of our communities and environment to be honestly considered and protected by our federal agencies. FERC has been allowing illegal segmentation by pipeline companies for years, it has ignored the pleas of the public for equity and for honest review of impacts, and as such FERC has been complicit with the pipeline companies in their ongoing efforts to avoid the rule of law and to ignore the devastating impacts they are having on our environment, impacts that will harm not just present, but also future generations. It is rewarding that a federal court has finally held FERC to account.” 

The case was argued before the Court of Appeals by Delaware Riverkeeper Network attorney Aaron Stemplewicz. Said Stemplewicz of the decision, “The D.C. Circuit’s decision today should put other pipeline companies on notice that the practice of segmenting pipeline projects before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will no longer be tolerated, and that the cumulative environmental impacts resulting from these projects must be fully considered before a project is approved.” 

Added Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum: “This decision is important and powerful for every pipeline, related infrastructure and LNG project to come, but sadly for the communities, forests, streams, wetlands and critters impacted by the four projects at issue here, the decision comes too late to ensure their full consideration and protection. We will be able to press for important mitigation and efforts to undo the harms already inflicted, but as for avoiding the full array of harms, that is now impossible. FERC needed to do its job when it had the opportunity – but they were too busy servicing the gas pipeline companies to care.” 

Of particular note – all three justices ruling on this case concurred on the final judgment rendered. 


Southport Project (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 Southport Development project involves the filling in of 12.28 acres of open water (.2 of which is emergent wetlands, 1.08 acres of which is shallow water habitat, and 3.62 of which is deep water habitat); 3.75 acres of nontidal wetlands; .73 acres of a tidal drainage area; filling in an unspecified amount of floodplain lands with 3 to 4 feet of fill in order to raise the area to above the 100-year floodplain (in fact to raise it to the 200 year floodplain); dredging a 35-acre area within the River to a 40+2 foot depth; impacts to approximately 4600 linear ft of existing shoreline; the permanent loss of 1.08 acres of submerged aquatic vegetation; and having a 116 acre development footprint which will necessarily be on riverside lands and result in the loss of potential terrestrial habitat. The project is being postured as a method for disposing of spoils from the Army Corps’ Delaware deepening proposal.  And that explains why the push by PA and the apparent interest of the Army Corps to skew the review and public process to make approval for the project easier. 
As part of its overall vision for the Delaware River Deepening project, Pennsylvania conceived of, and advanced the proposed Southport project.  The project never recieved full and fair review from the US Army Corps who appreciated the project for providing a much needed rationale for deepening.  The Delaware Riverkeeper Network repeatedly expressed our concerns regarding the proposed Southport development project and what appeared to us to be an evolving abuse of process and politics.  Our review of the files demonstrated that the Army Corps supported efforts to truncate the environmental review process that should be taking place around this proposal.  And so the Delaware Riverkeeper Network urged the Environmental Protection Agency to step in and take the reigns. But they failed to act.  In fact, documents on the record showed us that rather than exercising any oversight they instead sought to work in collusion to evade full and fair review of the project.  In email from EPA officials to Army Corps officials it is said: “In light of the rash of activity recently from the riverkeeper regarding the Southport project, we are hoping to set up a meeting with you guys to make sure we are on the same page.”   

Ultimately, because of its connectivity to the Deepening the Southport project was approved. 


Newtown Creek Watershed Photo Essay


The Delaware Riverkeeper Network and project partner the Newton Creek Watershed Association trained volunteers to photo-document sources of non-point source pollutants throughout the Newton Creek Watershed.  The photos show the good, the bad and the ugly of this urban watershed that stretches from Haddonfield to Camden.

Newton Lake and Peters Creek, a Newton tributary, are both listed as “impaired waterways” by NJDEP because they cannot support a healthy mix of aquatic life.  These degraded conditions are primarily due to excessive stormwater runoff, which causes erosion, nutrient enrichment, local flooding and sewage overflows.

The volunteers, nearly all from area high schools, were given an introduction on the urban water cycle and the impacts on local waterways from impervious surfaces, poor stormwater compliance and maintenance.  The volunteers were each assigned a segment of the creek and, utilizing their own smartphones, took pictures of excessive erosion, discharge pipes going directly into the waterway, illegally disposed of yard waste and trash.  All photos were geo-tagged so the exact locations could be found again and placed on a GIS map.

The photos have already resulted in inspections by NJDEP compliance officers and meetings set up with officials from two town.

The objective of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s photo-documentation project is to show municipal officials and the general public what the source of the problems on the Newton Creek Watershed are and why it’s wasting tax-payer money and bad for the environment to continue to only focus on activities such as dredging, aeration and chemical treatment, which are only symptoms of a bigger stormwater management problem.

View the photo essay below:


Newton Creek Dredging Task Force


The Newton Creek Watershed is located in Camden County New Jersey with its headwaters located in suburban Collingswood, Haddonfield and Haddon Heights and its confluence with the Delaware in the City of Camden. The Newton is a small (13.6 sq mi), urbanized watershed consisting of 11 municipalities.  It is approximately 38%   Multiple historic mill dams have created several manmade lakes that are now extremely popular parks.

As a result of past and present land use, including industrial in Gloucester and Camden cities, as well as densely developed, older residential with little or no stormwater management infrastructure, water quality in the Newton Creek does not meet state water quality standards. In fact, it is listed as an “impaired waterway” by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) indicating that it does not measure up to the standards required for maintenance of healthy aquatic communities of wildlife, especially of fish and smaller creatures at the base of the food chain. Based on DEP assessments, Newton Creek is characterized as having excessive siltation, nutrient enrichment, inadequate stormwater management, diminished stream base flows, nonpoint source pollution impacts, degraded habitat, and frequent nuisance flooding.

Over the past 15 years, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network has been actively engaged in a variety of efforts ranging from water quality monitoring, the preservation of Saddlers Woods, an old growth forest, advocating for riparian buffers, design and installation of several green stormwater infrastructure, trained volunteers to photo-document nonpoint pollution sources, leading stormwater driving tours and even sponsored a snakehead fishing contest.

Camden County is now proposing to dredge 260,000 cubic yards of sediment from the Newton and its largest tributary, the Peter’s Creek.  DRN and other members of the Newton Creek Dredging Task Force submitted joint comments to NJDEP on Camden County’s proposed 260,000 CY dredging project. The Newton and Peters are older, suburban watersheds and so, like many similar communities throughout the Delaware River Watershed, are recipients of large volumes of sediment and urban nonpoint pollution. Our comments focused on protecting sufficient areas of shallow water littoral zones that provide important aquatic habitat and wadding bird foraging area and the choice of dewatering technology. Not all dewatering is the same with some allowing significant amounts of dredged contaminants to actually flow back into the waterway. DRN’s strategy that we believe will result in better post-dredging water quality started with meeting with the County to discuss what actions need to be taken upstream to reduce the volume of runoff and increase infiltration. We focused on the many innovative stormwater green infrastructure in this watershed. Our strategy also included calling and meeting with NJDEP permit review team to establish a relationship with them, walking the dewatering sites, partnering with the impacted stakeholders, including fishing clubs, municipal environmental commissions and Sustainability Teams and making sure our comments not only pointed out our areas of concern, of which there were many, but also any positive aspects in the permits.

Areal Image showing the site
Image: Western portion of project near Route 168.




A stream is not just the water that flows through a channel.  A stream includes its bed, its banks, and the lands that run along its length. The land along our streams and rivers is an essential and living part of the stream ecosystem.  To be healthy, a stream needs its adjacent lands to be covered with healthy, varied and native vegetation.  

Vegetated buffers provide a living cushion between our upland land uses and our living streams providing important protections to both the stream and our human communities.  Vegetated buffers help protect our communities from non-natural flooding – the soils and vegetation soak up and hold floodwaters, gently releasing them after the storm has passed. This flood protection reduces flood damages in our communities as well as minimizing the need for costly emergency response. Vegetated buffers filter out pollution, that washed from the land as well as that already in the water thereby protecting our drinking water as well as our special places for  boating, swimming, fishing and birding.  Vegetated buffers  protect and improve our local economies – they increase the market value and marketability of nearby homes; they support the qualities needed to sustain a healthy ecotourism industry, and they provide the clean and fresh water needed to support a variety of industry and waterside needs.  Vegetated buffers help encourage infiltration of rainfall and runoff helping to keep our underground aquifers flowing and available during times of drought.  Vegetated buffers protect public and private lands from erosion. And, vegetated buffers provide essential habitat, in stream and on the land, for aquatic life, birds, wildlife, amphibians and reptiles.  
When we devegetate and fill our riparian buffer areas we not only destroy their ability to provide these community benefits, but the opposite harmful reaction results — rather than flood storage we have increased flooding; rather than aquifer recharge we have increased drought; rather than healthy streamside lands and habitats we have erosion and degraded ecosystems; and so on.

It is essential we protect our vegetated buffers for the health of our streams and our communities. 

How Much of a Buffer Should Be Protected?

In general, riparian buffers should be as wide as possible.  The bigger the buffer the more pollution it can filter, the better habitat it can provide, the more water it can absorb, hold and infiltrate.  
A wealth of new science focused on buffers is taking place.  These studies are telling us that a minimum 100 foot buffer is best for protecting water quality, for preventing and removing pollution, and for protecting habitats in the stream and on the land.  In a number of instances buffers ranging from 300 to 1000 feet are being recommended, or even required, in order to provide the greatest level of protection our natural waterways and habitats need.  When focused on bird life and wildlife the buffer minimum  is tending towards 300 feet or greater.  In this case too, bigger is definitely better – providing better quality habitat and needed migration paths for a variety of wildlife.  
Also very important to the effective functioning of a riparian buffer is the quality and mix of vegetation. Characteristics such as species diversity, vegetation type, physical condition and maturity all affect the ability of the buffer to do its job. The forested buffer which includes a mix of plants, shrubs, and trees can work on steep slopes, where other vegetation, especially grass, and other BMPs may be difficult to install and maintain. 

Delaware Riverkeeper Network is working to get requirements at the state and regional level that ensure protective buffers for all streams in the watershed. We were leaders on the successful effort to get 300 foot buffer requirements for C-1 streams in NJ and 150 foot buffers on exceptional value and high quality streams in Pennsylvania.

In 2018, the Delaware Riverkeeper Netowrk released a report documenting the tremendous value of natural riparian buffers.


Stormwater Utility/User Fees


Stormwater User Fees and Utilities are gaining more attention as a mechanism for funding stormwater projects in communities.

Radnor Township, PA is currently considering a user fee.  
The concept of a user fee is neither supported nor opposed by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network as long as the funds are used for beneficial projects and not the standards collect, detain and pipe projects of the past.

The first proposed iteration of Radnor’s ordinance failed to ensure that fees collected and credits given can be invested in projects that avoid stormwater runoff and/or that directly address the damages of runoff. The ordinance faile to include criteria for selecting and evaluating projects. And, the ordinance faile to ensure equity between residential property owners and commercial/institutional property owners in fees paid.  

Delaware Riverkeeper Network gave extensive written and verbal comment and urged others to do the same.  Below you will see a summary handout of DRN’s comments as well as two sets of comments delivered to the Township, including via testimony on 8/26/13.

The Commissioners then came around and made critical fixes to the proposal.  
The ordinance was edited to address most of DRN’s concerns including focusing the use of fees collected and credits given on prevention, avoidance and minimization of the volume, pollution and other associated harms of runoff.    Much credit was given to the Delaware Riverkeeper Network for our guidance and input.

Below find some of the comments being submitted to the committee by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network as it monitors the implementation of the program.

FERC Abuses of Power & Law – Securing Change


The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) is a demonstrably biased agency that has become a partner with, rather than a regulator of, the pipeline companies it purports to oversee. FERC is misusing legal loopholes and ignoring court orders to advance gas infrastructure projects, while preventing affected and concerned communities from participating in the process. The agency is funded 100% by the industry it regulates, and a revolving employee door between FERC and its regulated community feeds the agency’s bias and abuse of power. 

It is time that the public secure an independent investigation of FERC and that necessary reforms be identified. 

We need a review of FERC by Congress in the form of Congressional Hearings, as well as investigation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).  

Organizations from across the nation have joined forces to advance these requests of our elected officials in Congress.

To see a comprehensive listing of reforms view here.


FERC Pipeline Review Comment Process — PL18-1-000

People’s Dossier: FERC’s Abuses of Power and Law

People’s Hearing on FERC Abuses of Law & Power

Constitutional Challenge to FERC


Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule


On April 15, 2019, President Trump issued Executive Order 13868, titled “Promoting Energy Infrastructure and Economic Growth.” That order directed the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to review and revise its regulations implementing Section 401 of the Clean Water Act to make it easier for oil and gas infrastructure to be approved and constructed. Section 401 of the Clean Water Act gives states and tribes the ability to ensure that a proposed project requiring federal authorization does not degrade water quality within the certifying authority’s jurisdiction. A certifying authority can waive its authority, issue a certification, deny a certification, or issue a certification with conditions that ensure protection of water quality.

On August 22, 2019, EPA proposed a new rule overhauling its Section 401 regulations. The new rule dictated what items constituted a complete certification request from a project proponent (which determines when the one-year clock starts for a certifying authority to make a decision), limited the legal authorities that could serve as the bases of a certifying authority’s decision; treated non-compliant certifications as a waiver of certifying authority; vested the Federal agencies with the power to enforce a certifying authority’s certification; and attempted to make the determination as to whether an activity may affect a neighboring jurisdiction entirely discretionary. See DRN’s comment on the proposed rule here.

On July 13, 2020, EPA promulgated the final rule with some slight changes. That same day, Delaware Riverkeeper Network filed a challenge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. See the complaint here. EPA moved to dismiss Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s complaint, arguing that we did not have standing and that our challenge was not ripe. The court denied EPA’s motion in December 2020.

On Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021, President Biden issued Executive Order 13990, titled “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis,” which directed federal agencies to immediately review certain actions taken during the Trump Administration, and revoking EO 13868. As a result, Delaware Riverkeeper Network and the EPA agreed to a 60-day abeyance of the lawsuit so that the EPA could evaluate the Certification Rule. That abeyance is scheduled to end on April 6, 2021.