DINGMANS FERRY, Pa. — Nearly three decades of cleaning up the Delaware River between Barryville, N.Y., and the Delaware Water Gap has resulted in an unprecedented level of cleanliness in the water.
That was the message participants in the 29th annual On and Under the Delaware River Cleanup have relayed to Ruth Jones of Kittatinny Canoes, which sponsors the two-day event spanning 70 miles of the river.
“The river is the cleanest it’s ever been. All the volunteers have been saying that,” said Jones, whose parents founded Kittatinny Canoes in 1941 and whose son, Dave Jones, now runs the business.
After volunteers began the cleanup Monday in the New York section of the Delaware, Tuesday’s stormy weather postponed its conclusion a day. As a result, not all of the 135 people signed up for day two could make it Wednesday, but Jones estimated that nearly 70 volunteers still helped out on the river for the rescheduled event.
This year’s cleanup resulted in smaller piles of litter brought onto shore than in years past, Jones said, and volunteers who began at the Dingman’s Ferry Bridge traveled 12 miles instead of the scheduled eight because the water was so clean. Even the cleanup itself — which began as a three-day event in 1990 before eventually being reduced to two days — is a testament to the improved nature of the water.
Volunteers at the cleanup over the years have pulled a wide variety of items out of the river, from tires to household items and even sticks of dynamite — “You name it, even the kitchen sink,” Jones said.
While the gradual increase in water quality is encouraging to Jones, she said her overall goal is to make the Delaware River “as clean as it was when the Indians lived on it.”