Delaware River Watershed Initiative

Updated 3/22/23

The Delaware River Watershed Initiative (DRWI) is a collaborative effort seeking to conserve and restore the streams that supply drinking water to 15 million people in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware (4states1source Website). Villanova is part of the Upstream Suburban Philadelphia cluster of the DRWI, which you can learn more about through a StoryMap created by Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC).

Supported by the William Penn Foundation, a team of graduate students from the Villanova Center for Resilient Water Systems (VCRWS) work directly on projects within DRWI Focus Areas. The goals of these projects include implementation and monitoring of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) in the watershed, monitoring pre- and post-urbanization water quality and flow, and engaging the public through presentations and publications.

The team at Villanova monitors the following sites within the Delaware River Watershed:

  • Two Rain Gardens installed by Cerulean Environmental and AKRF, Inc. that manage stormwater entering the headwaters of the Jenkintown Creek. When it rains, parking lot runoff is channeled into these rain gardens for storage to be evapotranspired back to the atmosphere or infiltrated for groundwater recharge.  
  • Two retention basins and one detention basin at the College Settlement Camp in Horsham, PA that manage stormwater prior to discharging at the headwaters of Pennypack Creek. Stormwater runoff is channeled to three basins and stored as a permanent water surface, promoting ecological function.  A diverse population of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and insects make their home in this habitat. A real-time controls (RTC) system is used to enhance the performance of stormwater control measures (SCMs) by dynamically adjusting outflows in response to changing environmental conditions.
  • Two bioswales installed at Drexel Gardens Park in Upper Darby, PA, near Naylors Run that convey water from surrounding impervious surfaces to proper drainage locations.  Specifically, these vegetated systems target the exposed segment of the Naylor's Run tributary to Cobb's Watershed, aiming to reduce flooding and erosion risks in its urban setting. Three monitoring locations along the Naylors Run system were selected to collect water quality and quantity data from upstream and downstream of the bioswales location.
  • Various parameters are monitored at the research sites (College Settlement, Jenkintown Creek, and Naylors Run). Through weather station instrumentation, a range of parameters including rainfall, temperature, solar radiation, wind speed, barometric pressure, and humidity are monitored. Within the GSI, soil moisture and water levels are observed. All of these parameters are logged in 5-minute intervals and stored every 15 minutes in an onsite data logger. Additional monitoring focuses on the quality of water in which these systems operate, observing nutrient concentrations, pH, conductivity, and any solids found in the waters during baseflow and storm conditions. 

Our Partners
William Penn Foundation Watershed Protection
Delaware River Watershed Initiative

Map showing Villanova University’s three DRWI monitoring locations
Map showing Villanova University’s three DRWI monitoring locations


Villanova Engineers Awarded Major Research Instrumentation Grant by National Science Foundation

Villanova Engineers Awarded Major Research Instrumentation Grant by National Science Foundation

The three-year, $1.4 million grant will fund the installation and upkeep of a unidirectional sediment-feed tilting flume. The device will serve a wide scope of hydrology research projects and experiments for Villanova researchers as well as national and international partners in academia, water utilities and engineering firms.

Oct 2023

Dr. Rob Traver Receives 2 Awards for Contributions to Water Resources Engineering

Dr. Rob Traver Receives 2 Awards for Contributions to Water Resources Engineering

The professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering was honored with the 2023 Outstanding Research & Innovation Award from the American Academy of Water Resources Engineers and the 2023 Philadelphia Civil Engineer of the Year Award from the Philadelphia Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers.l

May 2023

Angus Welch of U.S. EPA Region 3

Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership Hosts 2022 Symposium

More than 350 engineers, researchers, planners and other water-resources professionals gathered on Villanova’s campus Oct. 12 and 13 for the 2022 Pennsylvania Stormwater Management Symposium. The biennial symposium aims to promote green stormwater infrastructure to combat urban flooding and protect environmental quality.

Oct 2022