Delaware River Watershed Initiative

While many organizations have been doing a great deal of work to protect and improve the Delaware River watershed, substantial stressors continue to diminish water quality and supply. To accelerate the protection and restoration of water quality in the Delaware River basin and to have more success with conservation efforts, the Delaware River Watershed Initiative (DRWI) was created by the William Penn Foundation to align the efforts of the various organizations and agencies that are working independently. 

The DRWI has engaged more than 50 leading conservation organizations in aligned, prioritized efforts to restore degraded areas, protect important landscapes, encourage innovations in green infrastructure and financing, and measure the scientific impact of the work in over 300 locations with standardized protocols. The organizations are focusing their efforts in eight targeted subwatershed "clusters" to measurably improve water quality and quantity and to assess the impact of those interventions. Each cluster acts as a laboratory to test and refine interventions and measure impacts over time. 

The William Penn Foundation (WPF) has awarded a grant to the Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership to monitor and model stormwater improvements, train citizen scientists, and provide education and outreach activities about stormwater. Of the eight clusters that constitute approximately 25 percent of the Delaware River basin, the VUSP and its partner organizations are responsible for evaluating part of the Upstream Suburban Philadelphia cluster.

Five hydrologically separated stream systems - The Pennypack, Tookany, Wissahickon, Cobbs and Poquessing - run through the Upstream Suburban Philadelphia Cluster of Watersheds. The cluster includes the upstream suburban portions of these watersheds in Bucks, Delaware, and Montgomery counties, where about 400,000 people reside. Almost all of the reaches of the cluster's waterways are on Pennsylvania's list of impaired streams due primarily to urban stormwater runoff and secondarily to excessive sediment and nutrient pollution. Although the region includes an extensive network of streamside parks and greenways that provide significant ecosystem services as well as recreational opportunities, this area has extremely limited land available for protection. Thus, the initiative will need to achieve water quality improvements through restoration of degraded areas. 

As part of this project, Dr. Welker and her team of graduate and undergraduate students will be intensively monitoring the first two sites and the Saint Basil Academy (3rd on the list) will be monitored at lower levels along with some additional sites.

1. Abington Friends in Tookany Watershed

2. College Settlement in Pennypack Watershed

3. Saint Basil Academy

4.  Abington Meetinghouse in Tookany Watershed

Visit to watch A Watershed Moment, the film about the Delaware River Watershed produced by Tom Lennon under a William Penn Foundation grant to the Open Space Institute. This film was selected to be featured at the Princeton Environmental Film Festival as part of its short film series.  For more information visit our partners at 4 States 1 Source.


The project team for the Upper Suburban Philadelphia Cluster includes:

4 States 1 Source (The Delaware River Watershed Initiative)

Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association (WVWA)

Lower Merion Conservancy (Cobbs Creek)

Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust (Pennypack Creek)

Friends of the Poquessing Watershed (Poquessing Creek)

Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership(Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Creek)

Pennsylvania Environmental Council

Temple University

Villanova University

We were involved in several outreach programs and workshops:

  • Abington Friends School
  • St. Joseph's University Stormwater Workshop
  • Master Watershed Steward program
  • Pennsylvania Land Development Conference
  • Training workshops on individual SCMs was delivered with the help of one of our partners Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association (WVWA)

In October 2015, we hosted a Municipal Workshop at Villanova University. This one-day workshop, planned with the help of PEC, one of our partners, was held on October 13th. It was specifically designed for municipal elected and appointed officials, their staff and planners. The workshop included keynote speakers, panel discussions and a tour of the SCMs on campus. Details about the workshop can be found here!