Next Article in Journal
Sorption of Arsenic from Desalination Concentrate onto Drinking Water Treatment Solids: Operating Conditions and Kinetics
Previous Article in Journal
Assessment of Water Quality in Roof-Harvested Rainwater Barrels in Greater Philadelphia
Article Menu
Issue 2 (February) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Water 2018, 10(2), 95;

The Cost of Clean Water in the Delaware River Basin (USA)

Water Resources Center, School of Public Policy and Administration, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA
Received: 22 September 2017 / Revised: 31 October 2017 / Accepted: 8 January 2018 / Published: 24 January 2018
Full-Text   |   PDF [5590 KB, uploaded 24 January 2018]   |  


The Delaware River has made a marked recovery in the half-century since the adoption of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) Compact in 1961 and passage of the Federal Clean Water Act amendments during the 1970s. During the 1960s, the DRBC set a 3.5 mg/L dissolved oxygen criterion for the river based on an economic analysis that concluded that a waste load abatement program designed to meet fishable water quality goals would generate significant recreational and environmental benefits. Scientists with the Delaware Estuary Program have recently called for raising the 1960s dissolved oxygen criterion along the Delaware River from 3.5 mg/L to 5.0 mg/L to protect anadromous American shad and Atlantic sturgeon, and address the prospect of rising temperatures, sea levels, and salinity in the estuary. This research concludes, through a nitrogen marginal abatement cost (MAC) analysis, that it would be cost-effective to raise dissolved oxygen levels to meet a more stringent standard by prioritizing agricultural conservation and some wastewater treatment investments in the Delaware River watershed to remove 90% of the nitrogen load by 13.6 million kg N/year (30 million lb N/year) for just 35% ($160 million) of the $449 million total cost. The annual least cost to reduce nitrogen loads and raise dissolved oxygen levels to meet more stringent water quality standards in the Delaware River totals $45 million for atmospheric NOX reduction, $130 million for wastewater treatment, $132 million for agriculture conservation, and $141 million for urban stormwater retrofitting. This 21st century least cost analysis estimates that an annual investment of $50 million is needed to reduce pollutant loads in the Delaware River to raise dissolved oxygen levels to 4.0 mg/L, $150 million is needed for dissolved oxygen levels to reach 4.5 mg/L, and $449 million is needed for dissolved oxygen levels to reach 5.0 mg/L. View Full-Text
Keywords: river basin; water quality; water pollution; economic valuation river basin; water quality; water pollution; economic valuation

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Kauffman, G.J. The Cost of Clean Water in the Delaware River Basin (USA). Water 2018, 10, 95.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Water EISSN 2073-4441 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top