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New partnership formed to ensure future for sustainable canal

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Point Pleasant-based nonprofit Delaware Canal 21 (DC21), Bucks County and Northampton County have joined forces to investigate options to put the canal on a sustainable footing both fiscally and in terms of maintenance.

The ultimate goal is to enable the canal to reliably carry a full head of water for its entire 60-mile length from Bristol in the South to Easton in the North.

Doug Dolan, DC21’s executive director, said the parties have signed agreements, and expect to move forward over the next several months to conduct a feasibility analysis to consider ways to better fund and maintain the canal.

Delaware Canal 21 has applied for grants totaling $290,000 from DCNR and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to fund the study. DCNR and DCED have awarded grants totaling $175,000 and DC21 is seeking an additional $115,000 from DCED and further support from the private sector.

Officials estimate that the study will begin in the third quarter of 2020 and be completed by the end of 2021.

In addition to the major sustainability initiative about to get underway, DC21 is working with DCNR and the William Penn Foundation on seven local canal improvement projects spread over the full length of the canal.
These range from working with Bristol Borough to lay the ground work for reclaiming the last mile of the canal, to hydraulic analysis and recommendations for dealing with canal flooding in Morrisville and Yardley, to working closely with the City of Easton to pursue a new pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the Lehigh River to link the Downtown Easton Waterfront to the head of the canal and its towpath trail.

Those projects should be completed in the next few months according to Allen Black, chairman of the board of DC21.

Dolan welcomes the public and others to submit (either by mail or email) any comments, suggestions, ideas, or questions they may have. Such comments or questions should be sent to DC21 at P.O. Box 262, Point Pleasant, Pa. 18950 or via email at

Dolan noted as well that contributions from the public in support of DC21’s work would be appreciated.

Report from Delaware Canal 21.