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Experts probe the health of the Delaware River

Disappearing forests.

Emerging contaminants.

Legacy pollutants such as PCBs.

Fish contamination that makes some unsafe to eat.

And precipitous population declines among brook trout and sturgeon.

These are just some of the issues being discussed today at a meeting on the environmental health of the Delaware River Basin.

Upwards of 50 scientists and natural resources managers have convened a day-long conference at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum to discuss a study several years in the making, the State of the Basin report, which analyzes successes and problems in the basin, the drainage area for the Delaware River, stretching from the Catskills to Cape Henlopen.

Robert Tudor, deputy director of the Delaware River Basin Commission, which shepherded the basin report, said earlier this week that while the basin still had many problems to solve – not the least of which is the emerging effect of climate change – the basin is "moving from a dirty water paradigm to a keep-the-clean-water-clean paradigm." He noted that the basin has 400 stream miles that are designated as federal "wild and scenic" waters.

Successes include water quality and a return of the bald eagle and striped bass. Despite demands on the water resource, minimum flows have been maintained at Trenton, and the salt line – a level of salinity below Philadelphia's water intakes – has been kept within normal fluctuations.

More on the report in The Inquirer today

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