The Delaware River flows from the Catskill Mountains in New York through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware to the Delaware Bay. It provides drinking water for over 13 million people, habitat for over 90 fish and 400 bird species, $21 billion in ecosystem services including carbon sequestration and water filtration, and over $25 billion of annual economic activity including water supply, transportation, fishing, and recreation. In short, the Delaware River is essential to the Mid-Atlantic region’s environmental, economic and public health.
The impacts of climate change on the Delaware River are significant and far reaching; from New York City which relies on the Delaware River for half of it’s drinking water, to Philadelphia which relies on the river for 100% of it’s drinking water, to the Bay Region where over 1 million people rely on the Delaware for drinking water. Climate change impacts include flooding, decreased water quality, and sea-level rise, among others. But these impacts are not felt equally among the communities that rely on the river for drinking water and recreation.
This expert panel will provide an overview of the top climate challenges facing the Delaware River (and the communities that rely on it) with a specific focus on how New York City and Philadelphia are responding to these challenges through changes in policy, planning and operations. Importantly, the panel will discuss why underprivileged communities often experience water-related climate impacts more acutely and have fewer resources for recovery than other communities and what can be done to make climate change adaptation more equitable for all communities that call the Delaware River home.