Water Quality Advisory Committee (WQAC)
Committee Information

Please Note

  • The Commission's advisory committees provide a forum for the exchange of information and viewpoints on a variety of issues. Presentations made at public meetings of the Commission's advisory committees are posted on the DRBC web site for the convenience of participants and the public, in order to encourage informed discussion and debate. However, readers are advised that the Commission cannot attest to the accuracy of the information presented by individuals who are not members of the Commission staff. The views and information contained in these materials are those of the presenters and unless stated otherwise in a particular document, have not been endorsed by the Commission or its personnel.

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    • Pursuant to the above Resolution for the Minutes, when posted online, presentations and other documents created for use by an advisory committee shall bear the statement "Presented to an advisory committee of the DRBC. Contents should not be published or re-posted in whole or in part without the permission of the author(s) or the committee."

Learn more about DRBC's Water Quality Programs

Aquatic Life Designated Use Study

Study Background

In 2017, the Commissioners directed DRBC staff to complete an analysis of attainability to inform the regulatory process of upgrading aquatic life designated uses and criteria for the Delaware River Estuary. The directive emphasized the importance of using a collaborative process informed by technical studies and specialized scientific and engineering expertise.

The study seeks to determine the attainability of an improved designated use of fish propagation (i.e., reproduction and juvenile development) in a 38-mile stretch of the Delaware River Estuary around Philadelphia, Camden & Wilmington. Currently, this section of river has a designated use of maintenance (i.e. survival of resident fish and the ability for migratory species to pass through).

DRAFT Analysis of Attainability (AA): September 2022

The DRAFT AA and several supporting draft reports are now available:


  • Describes the results of studies performed with a state-of-the-art hydrodynamic and water quality model, showing the DO improvements to be achieved when ammonia effluent limits are reduced and identifies the highest attainable dissolved oxygen condition, or HADO.

  • Determines that DO levels are most impacted by summer ammonia loads from nine point sources (Philadelphia Water Department's Southwest, Southeast and Northeast wastewater treatment plants and the plants operated by Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority, City of Wilmington, Gloucester County Utilities Authority, Hamilton Township, DELCORA and Lower Bucks County Joint Municipal Authority).

  • Summarizes the results of cost and affordability evaluations for reducing ammonia discharges to the Delaware River Estuary.

  • Recommends steps for achieving the HADO.

  • Recommends that the Commission initiate a rulemaking process, as outlined in Resolution No. 2017-4, to revise the designated aquatic life uses and develop water quality criteria to support those uses.

Current Status

In December 2022, the EPA issued a determination that revising the water quality standards for a portion of the Delaware River Estuary is necessary to satisfy the requirements of the Clean Water Act. In September 2023, the DRBC suspended its development of proposed rules for public comment. The EPA will lead the rulemaking effort. As of March 2024, the public comment period on the USEPA's rulemaking has closed and comments are being reviewed.

Recreational Uses in Water Quality Zone 3 & Upper Zone 4

DRBC Bacteria Monitoring Study

NGO Petition: Recreational Use & DRBC Response

WQAC Meeting Recaps (Presentations Given & Mtg Summaries)
4/23/24 3/23/23 4/27/22 4/15/21 4/30/20 3/20/19 3/1/18 5/11/17 1/28/16 3/26/15 11/13/14 9/24/13 12/12/12
    5/18/22 11/3/21 7/28/20  5/14/19 3/29/18 8/24/17 7/28/16 5/5/15   5/31/13 3/21/12
    6/14/22   10/29/20 9/30/19 7/18/18     10/30/15      
    7/14/22   12/3/20 11/14/19              
    8/18/22     12/5/19              
Archives: Older Meeting Summaries (all pdfs)
2/8/11 3/23/10 3/30/09 7/30/08 3/8/05 4/1/04 3/24-25/03 5/3/01
  6/23/10 6/23/09 10/28/08   6/29/04 7/1/03 7/11/01
  8/3/10 7/21/09     9/21/04 7/29-30/03 10/10/01
    9/15/09     11/23/04 11/6/2003  
    11/17/09     12/14/04    

Presentations from the February 20, 2007 joint meeting with the Monitoring Advisory Committee (link to the presentations on the MACC page)