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Capitol Hill centers attention on the vital cause of clean water in the Delaware River basin

Clean water advocates met with members of Congress to discuss critical funding for programs that protect and restore the rivers, streams, and tributaries feeding the great Delaware River Watershed.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Nearly 60 members of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed Wednesday met with their members of Congress to urge support for the protection, restoration, and conservation of the Delaware River Watershed.

The Coalition, composed of over 180 organizations from throughout the four-state region, PA, NJ, NY and DE, is asking Congress to increase funding for critical restoration programs, and to support equitable outdoor access and wildlife conservation.

At a breakfast gathering of the participating advocates and partners, the Coalition heard remarks from the Delaware River Watershed Caucus co-chair, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt-Rochester (DE- At-Large), as well as remarks from Congressman Tom Kean Jr. (NJ-7), Congressman Matt Cartwright (PA-8), and Congressman Marc Molinaro (NY-19), highlighting the importance of investing in our critical natural resource, the Delaware River Watershed.

Since 2018, the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program has provided $55.1 million in funding to 195 projects, which generated $79.2 million in match, for a total conservation impact of $134.3 million. However, the need for more funding and investment is quite clear. Just last year, in 2023, 64 projects requesting $26 million applied for the program.

Year after year the Coalition advocates for increased funding to the DRBRP. Despite our unified efforts, in the FY24 budget, level funding was provided at $11.5 million. While we are grateful to not receive any cuts to this critical program, we are disappointed to not see an increase when it is sorely needed. This is the reason we are urging members of Congress to support $17 million for the DRBRP and assist in channeling essential funding to communities with ready-to-go restoration projects.

“Clean water is vital for sustaining life, ensuring the well-being of both wildlife and the 14.2 million people who depend on the Delaware River Watershed for clean, safe drinking water. Without the support of our Congressional members, we will not be able to protect and restore the streams and rivers that feed the Delaware River. We are immensely grateful for the leadership of Senator Carper, Congresswoman Blunt Rochester, and Congressman Fitzpatrick for being tireless champions in the fight for clean water,” said Kelly Knutson, Director for the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed. “We stand at a crucial juncture, where communities within the basin and wildlife are experiencing the impacts of a shifting climate. With significant flooding events and escalating droughts, the urgency is clear to invest in programs addressing conservation issues in our region. Coalition members appreciate the opportunity to meet with their members of Congress and emphasize the incredible impacts that environmental programs have had in their own backyards.”

“The Delaware River is a vital natural resource for our communities in Bucks and Montgomery Counties, as well as throughout the region,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “As founding Co-Chair of the bipartisan Delaware River Watershed Caucus, I am committed to working across the aisle to increase critical funding for conservation, clean-up, and habitat restoration efforts throughout the watershed area. We must do whatever we can to protect this vital water artery for generations to come, starting with the enactment of my bipartisan Delaware River Basin Conservation Reauthorization Act to ensure federal funding continues to meet preservation needs.”

“The Delaware River Watershed plays a critical role in our communities, helping to provide clean drinking water and protect our diverse ecosystems and wildlife,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester. “I am proud to be a co-chair of the bipartisan Delaware River Watershed Caucus where I advocate alongside Rep. Fitzpatrick for increased funding for conservation and restoration projects for the Watershed so that we can maintain public health, grow our economy and our workforce, and improve our overall quality of life.”

At the forefront of asks for legislators is increased appropriations for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program in the amount of $17 million to fund restoration projects throughout the four-state region. In addition to increased appropriations to the DRBRP, the Coalition is requesting that Congress Reauthorize the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act through 2030.

Signed into law in 2016, the DRBCA has successfully brought federal, state, and local governments together with regional partners to identify, prioritize, and implement restoration activities within the Delaware River Basin.

Other asks include co-sponsoring the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, a bold, bipartisan bill to help protect at-risk species with cost-effective, collaborative conservation programs; co-sponsoring the Outdoors for All Act, which would expand outdoor recreational opportunities in urban and low-income communities across the nation; and co-sponsoring the Ensure Funding for Our Environment Act, helping to get much needed funding to river commissions, including the crucial Delaware River Basin Commission.

During the eleventh annual CDRW Hill Day on Capitol Hill, the Coalition met with all 30 basin Congressional offices. Additionally, 98 organizations signed letter in support of the Coalition’s appropriations, urging increased funding for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program. Alongside these efforts, the Delaware River Watershed Caucus breakfast featured remarks from five members of Congress.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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