NEW JERSEY – In a win-win for conservation and bi-partisan collaboration, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, in a 228 by 206 vote, the Delaware River Watershed said.
The bill includes $26 million of supplemental funding for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program (DRBRP) administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over five years – an additional $5.2 million annually. The funding supports on-the-ground restoration projects and new and existing jobs across the 4-state watershed (New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware) through the DRBRP.
Projects will enhance fish and wildlife habitat, improve water quality to support wildlife and drinking water for people, enhance water management for flood damage mitigation, and improve recreational opportunities for public access. Amidst the growing threats of sea level rise, a creeping salt line, frequent flooding, habitat loss, and polluted stormwater runoff, this investment is desperately needed.
“We applaud the Congressional champions who supported the inclusion of $26 million for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program in the infrastructure package. This program represents a critical investment in the land and water resources of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware,” said Kelly Knutson, Interim Director, Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed. “The program empowers organizations to tackle critical environmental issues and investments in infrastructure, such as stormwater runoff, flooding mitigation, and other climate resilience projects. The increase in funding for the Delaware River Basin will allow for the continued expansion of conservation and restoration of the resources upon which people, wildlife, and our economy rely.”
“A backlog of conservation and recreation projects that have been waiting for funding can finally move forward thanks to this historic $26 million investment in the Delaware River watershed,” said Mark Zakutansky, Director of Conservation Policy Engagement for the Appalachian Mountain Club. “Preparing for the realities of climate change requires targeted investments in the Delaware River watershed, to reduce flooding, enhance habitat, and further connect the public to the great outdoors. Through the Delaware River Basin Restoration Fund and related programs, the federal government is leading critically important investments that will have profound impacts for the environment and our quality of life for generations to come.”
“Federal funding for public infrastructure improvements in the Upper Delaware River region is of paramount importance to all watershed stakeholders,” said Jeff Skelding, Executive Director of Friends of the Upper Delaware River. “These projects create jobs, mitigate flooding, protect water quality, restore aquatic habitat, and enhance river based recreational opportunities that fuel a burgeoning tourism economy. Congressional approval of bipartisan infrastructure legislation means everybody wins in the Upper Delaware River watershed.”
“As a low-lying coastal state, Delaware is particularly vulnerable to threats of flooding and sea level rise. This landmark investment will help address today’s water infrastructure concerns and provide a crucial investment in the region’s resiliency,” said Joanne McGeoch, Interim Executive Director, Delaware Nature Society. “As clean water is critical to Delaware’s environment, wildlife, economy, food supply, and public health, we are grateful for our congressional leaders who have made possible this significant investment of $26M for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program.”
“The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed today by the House of Representatives will deliver the kind of bold, ambitious action we need to meet the many challenges of this moment,” said Ezra Thrush, Senior Director of Government Affairs, PennFuture. “This legislation will result in the single largest investment in clean drinking water in American history, including $55 million to update old infrastructure and replace lead service lines, and $26 million for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program. Funding clean water isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. Communities across the nation cannot thrive without access to clean drinking water, and investments in updating old and antiquated infrastructure will not only put people to work in well-paying jobs, but it will have a direct and measurable impact on the health of our residents. PennFuture thanks each of our elected officials in Congress who helped pass this critical and badly-needed legislation, as well as President Biden for taking seriously the need to urgently combat the climate crisis through historic public investments. We look forward to seeing all of the positive change that will be realized as this bill transforms from words on paper into real, meaningful action for our residents and our environment.”
The Coalition is thrilled that the Delaware River Basin continues to be federally recognized and deserving of robust investment. The bill also includes:
- $132 million for the National Estuary Program over 5 years. The Delaware Estuary Program would receive additional funding to support implementation of the Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan that was revised in 2019.
- Supplemental funding for 5 years for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and Clean Water State Revolving Fund.
- Clean Water SRF – FY22 $1.902 billion; FY23 $2.202 billion; FY24 $2.403 billion; FY25&26 $2.603 billion
- Drinking Water SRF – FY22 $1.902 billion; FY23 $2.202 billion; FY24 $2.403 billion; FY25&26 $2.603 billion
The coalition said they’re looking forward to working with every member of Congress representing the watershed to support this historic investment in our clean water future.