Delaware [key], river, c.280 mi (450 km) long, rising in the Catskill Mts., SE N.Y., in east and west branches, which meet at Hancock. It flows SE along the New York–Pennsylvania border to Port Jervis, N.Y., then between Pennsylvania and New Jersey generally S to Delaware Bay, an estuary (52 mi/84 km long) between New Jersey and Delaware. Dams and reservoirs (especially the Cannonsville, Pepacton, and Neversink) on the river's headstreams control flooding and provide water for New York City and New Jersey, but the diversion of water from the upper Delaware has increased the salinity of Delaware Bay. The Delaware River Basin Compact (formed 1961) regulates water use in the entire basin. The Delaware cuts through Kittatinny Ridge (Blue Mt.) near Stroudsburg, Pa., forming the Delaware Water Gap, a scenic resort and recreation area. Three sections of the river are included in the Wild and Scenic Rivers system. The lower Delaware, from Trenton, N.J. (the head of navigation), past Philadelphia, to Wilmington, Del., flows through a highly industrialized area where water pollution has been a problem. The Delaware has long been commercially and recreationally significant. Its tributaries include the highly industrial Lehigh River, which joins it at Easton, Pa., and the Schuylkill, which joins it at Philadelphia. The Chesapeake and Delaware Canal links it with Chesapeake Bay.
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