DRB logo

Mapping, modeling, and monitoring land cover in the Delaware River Basin


This page provides a short overview of this project. For our full website, please go to  http://drbproject.org/ . You can also keep up to date with our newsletter , Facebook page , and Twitter feed .

A watershed of over 13,000 square miles, the Delaware River Basin (DRB) provides water resources for roughly 5% of the US population – over 15 million people – including roughly 7 million people in New York City and northern New Jersey who live outside of the Basin ( DRBC 2013). The DRB faces significant challenges: many waterways still do not meet the stated goals of the Clean Water Act to be fishable and swimmable ( DRBC 2012), population growth and associated land cover changes are a concern for water supply and water quality ( Jantz and Morlock 2011), gas drilling is emerging as a new industry with impacts on water supply and water quality, and climate change brings threats of sea level rise and the potential for more extreme droughts and flooding.

Map of Delaware River Basin

Reliable and regular land cover data are essential to address these challenges, as is the need for forecasting land cover changes in order to continually prioritize restoration and protection investments. These products need to be available Basin-wide in order to ensure conservation actions are targeted strategically. To address these needs, this project addresses three related components:

  • High resolution Lidar-based land cover mapping
  • Development of a Basin-wide land cover modeling tool
  • Feasibility study for long-term land cover change monitoring

These products address specific needs that were identified in June of 2013 by the Science of Source Water Workshop, which was organized by the Pinchot Institute and the Common Waters Fund to identify the top information needs of water users and other stakeholders ( Common Waters Fund 2014). Similarly, the Delaware River Basin Commission recently articulated a need for enhanced information related to land use changes to improve planning for future flood events and scenario planning under land use and population change to inform coupled freshwater-coastal models ( NOAA 2014). 

Project partners

Shippensburg University



Dr. Claire A. Jantz (Lead)
Geography-Earth Science

Dr. Scott A. Drzyzga
Associate Professor
Geography-Earth Science

Alfonso Yáñez Morillo 
Research Analyst
Geography-Earth Science

Antonia Price  
Project Coordinator
Geography-Earth Science

Peter Claggett   
Research Geographer
US Geological Survey
Chesapeake Bay Program  

Jarlath O'Neil-Dunne
University of Vermont 
Spatial Analysis Lab


Funding Support

Funding for this project comes from the William Penn Foundation. The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that increase educational opportunities for children from low-income families, ensure a sustainable environment, foster creativity that enhances civic life, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. In partnership with others, the Foundation works to advance opportunity, ensure sustainability, and enable effective solutions. Since inception, the Foundation has made nearly 10,000 grants totaling over $1.6 billion. The Foundation’s assets exceed $2.3 billion as of Nov. 30, 2014. More information about the foundation is available on its website at www.williampennfoundation.org.


Jantz, C.A., S.A. Drzyzga, J. O'Neil-Dunne, and P. Claggett (2015). "A Land Cover Mapping, Modeling and Monitoring System for the Delaware River Basin in Support of Maintaining and Restoring Water Resources." A concept paper submitted to the William Penn Foundation.

Project Overview - A 1-page fact sheet that gives an overview of this project.

Delaware River Basin Mapping - A factsheet about the high-resolution mapping component of this project.

Delaware River Basin 2070 - A factsheet about the forecast modeling component of this project.