Water Quality in the Delaware River Basin

Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Delaware, 1998-2001


U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1227


By Jeffrey M. Fischer, Karen Riva-Murray, R. Edward Hickman, Douglas C. Chichester, Robin A. Brightbill, Kristin M. Romanok, and Michael D. Bilger


This circular is available as a pdf.


This report contains the major findings of a 1998-2001 assessment of water quality in the Delaware River Basin. It is one of a series of reports by the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program that present major findings in 51 major river basins and aquifer systems across the Nation.


In these reports, water quality is discussed in terms of local, State, and regional issues. Conditions in a particular basin or aquifer system are compared to conditions found elsewhere and to selected national benchmarks, such as those for drinking-water quality and the protection of aquatic organisms.


This report is intended for individuals working with water-resource issues in Federal, State, or local agencies, universities, public interest groups, or in the private sector. The information will be useful in addressing a number of current issues, such as the effects of agricultural and urban land use on water quality, human health, drinking water, source-water protection, hypoxia and excessive growth of algae and plants, pesticide registration, and monitoring and sampling strategies. This report is also for individuals who wish to know more about the quality of streams and ground water in areas near where they live, and how that quality compares to the quality of water in other areas across the Nation.


The water-quality conditions in the Delaware River Basin summarized in this report are discussed in detail in other reports that can be accessed from Detailed technical information, data and analyses, collection and analytical methodology, models, graphs, and maps that support the findings presented in this report, in addition to reports in this series from other basins, can be accessed from the national NAWQA Web site (



National Water-Quality Assessment Program

Introduction to this Report

Summary of Major Findings

Introduction to the Delaware River Basin

Major Findings

Organic Contaminants in Streambed Sediment and Fish Tissue

Trace-Metal Contaminants in Streambed Sediment and Fish Tissue

NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE—Some mercury findings in the Delaware River Basin were similar to those from national study

Naturally Occurring Contaminants in Ground Water

Pesticides in Streams and Ground Water

VOCs in Streams and Ground Water

Nutrients in Streams and Ground Water

NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE—Nutrient concentrations span the range of national findings

Effects of urbanization and streamflow on streamwater quality and aquatic communities in streams

REGIONAL PERSPECTIVE— Stream quality degrades as urbanization increases in four major metropolitan areas

Study Unit Design

References Cited


Appendix—Water-quality data from the Delaware River Basin in a national context

Points of Contact and Additional Information


The companion Web site for NAWQA summary reports:


Delaware River Basin contact and Web site:

USGS State Representative

U.S. Geological Survey

Water Resources Discipline

810 Bear Tavern Rd., Suite 206,

W. Trenton, NJ 08628



National NAWQA Program:

Chief, NAWQA Program
U.S. Geological Survey
Water Resources Discipline
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, M.S. 413
Reston, VA 20192


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U.S. Geological Survey,

Information Services
Box 25286, Denver Federal Center
Denver, CO 80225


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Telephone: 1-888-ASK-USGS
World Wide Web:


The full report is available in pdf format and is 10.5 MB in size.


If you have Adobe® Acrobat® or Adobe® Acrobat® Reader® installed on your computer, you may view and print the PDF version of this report. Acrobat Reader, is a free download it from Adobe Systems, Inc.  Users with disabilities can view information concerning accessibility at


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