Map of 2011 priority projects for the Delaware Estuary (Image: Partnership for the Delaware Estuary)

A recent study by the University of Delaware puts a price tag on the economic value of the Delaware Estuary—the tidal portion of the Delaware River Basin—and the number is big. An estimated $10 billion flows annually from the economic activity and water-related jobs the estuary provides for a half-million people in the tri-state area. The results of the study were announced earlier this month by the nonprofit Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, and the implications are far-reaching in terms of project planning, policy decisions and future investment.

“You cannot put a price tag on the value of the Delaware River and Bay to peoples’ lives—it’s much more than an economic resource. However, we live in a time when major decisions about activities like drilling, dredging and development are made based in part on economics,” said Jennifer Adkins, executive director of the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. “This study will help people to consider the economic contributions of our estuary in those types of decisions.”

The PDE has identified six priority projects (PDF) for the Delaware Estuary in 2011, which encompass the following:

  • Restoring the shoreline in Bridesburg (including the parcel known as the Philly coke site) and construction of a recreational trail to complete a segment of the East Coast Greenway
  • Using "living shorelines" to prevent marshes from washing into Delaware Bay
  • Restoring freshwater mussels in local waterways to purify water
  • Evaluating the health of underwater plants
  • Restoring oyster reefs in Delaware Bay
  • Teaching school children about maritime culture by restoring oysters

For more info, visit the PDE website and check out the recent article in the Northeast Times.