Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund

Why Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund

Draining 13 million acres across four states, the Delaware River is the source of drinking water for 15 million people, a web of diverse plant and animal life, a recreational destination, and the foundation of the region’s economy.

The river has become much cleaner since the 1970s, after the federal Clean Water Act regulated major pollution sources, like sewage and factory waste. But today contamination still enters the watershed from thousands of smaller sources, carried into streams and groundwater by runoff from roads, construction sites, suburbs, cities, farms, and logged and mined lands (see white paper, Investing in Strategies to Accelerate Conservation and Measure Impact in the Delaware River Watershed).

Launched in 2014, the Delaware River Watershed Fund seeks to ensure abundant, clean water through support of land protection and improved land use planning, as part of the broader Delaware River Watershed Initiative, a coordinated effort involving 65 organizations working together to protect and restore clean water in the Delaware River watershed. The Initiative, generously supported by the William Penn Foundation and now entering a second phase, supports land protection, restoration and water quality monitoring in eight regions of the watershed. The William Penn Foundation has also commissioned an assessment of the contribution of capital investments in protection and restoration to ensure water quality.

OSI is now accepting applications for Transaction Grants and Catalyst Grants on a rolling basis. OSI will send a Request for Proposals for the next round of Capital grants in mid-April-late May 2019, that will also be posted on this website.

Through the Fund, OSI provides three types of grants:

  • Capital Grants for the purchase of land and easements to permanently protect important watershed lands;
  • Transaction Grants to jumpstart land conservation efforts; and,
  • Catalyst Grants to integrate water quality science into open space and other regional plans to accelerate watershed protection by state, county and municipal governments. Download this Catalyst Grant program summary for more information and to apply for Catalyst grants.

The Fund also makes short-term Low-Interest Loans to bridge gaps in public or private funding for land protection projects.

Impact of the Fund

Since the launch of the Fund in 2014, OSI approved capital grants totaling $8.9 million for 47 projects that will preserve nearly 23,000 acres of land. These projects are expected to protect 110 miles of forested stream banks, 22,180 acres of headwaters, 7,685 acres of stream buffers and 3,600 acres of wetlands. Read more about recent projects. 

Complementing these land protection efforts, OSI has made four Catalyst grants to integrate water quality science into conservation plans covering three counties and one municipality. See our case study on the Sussex County Open Space Plan.

Next Steps to Apply

Next Steps to Apply

OSI will issue Requests for Proposals for Capital grants twice annually. The next Capital Grant RFP will be released in mid-April 2019 and applications will be due on May 31, 2019.

Proposals for Transaction and Catalyst Grants will be considered on a rolling basis.

Please review the Frequently Asked Questions for Capital and Transaction Grants before applying. Before preparing a proposal, applicants are encouraged to contact OSI staff. 

To complete an application for a capital or transaction grant, applicants must download the Map Guide and Map Package that provide detailed steps for assessing the project’s conservation value and examples of the required maps. For assistance with the map package or with GIS, please contact Neil Jordan (contact below). 

All grant applications must be submitted through OSI’s online grant portal

The Catalyst Grant application is available here. (PDF of online application for informational purpose only.) Please include the financial summary with your application.

Sign up to be notified about future capital grant rounds.

View the original announcement about  the Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund.

Fund Inquiries

Bill Rawlyk

Middle Atlantic Field Coordinator


Catalyst Grant Inquiries

Abigail Weinberg

Science, Data and Catalyst Grants

212 290 8200 x1235


Administrative Inquiries

Yasemin Unal-Rodriguez

Conservation Capital Associate

(212) 290-8200


Neil Jordan

Conservation Information Manager

(212) 290-8200

What You Can Do

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