Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

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

Version 1 : Received: 22 September 2017 / Approved: 23 September 2017 / Online: 23 September 2017 (11:05:13 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

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


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 criteria for the river based on an economic analysis that concluded a waste load abatement program designed to meet fishable water quality goals would generate significant recreation and environmental benefits. Scientists with the Delaware Estuary Program have recently called for raising the 1960s DO criteria 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 marginal abatement cost (MAC) analysis that it would be cost effective to raise DO levels to meet a more stringent standard by prioritizing agricultural conservation and wastewater treatment investments in the Delaware River watershed to reduce 90% of the pollutant load 13.6 million kg/year of nitrogen (30 million lb/year) for $160 million at 35% of the $449 million annual 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 $50 million/year is needed to reduce pollutant loads in the Delaware River to raise dissolved oxygen levels to 4.0 mg/l, $150 million/year is needed to reach 4.5 mg/l, and $449 million/year is needed to reach 5.0 mg/l.


watershed; water quality; economics


Physical Sciences, Fluids and Plasmas Physics

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