The Delaware River Basin Conservation Act proposal is a bid to increase the profile of the region’s most important waterway.
Local conservation groups are looking for a little respect for the Delaware River Basin. The watershed, which crosses four states, encompasses the largest drinking water supply for the Middle Atlantic region. But in Washington, D.C., the waterway’s significance is overshadowed by the Great Lakes, Puget Sound and the Chesapeake Bay.
“The Delaware doesn’t receive the attention or the federal funding of some of those other great water bodies,” said Tanya Dierolf, outreach director for the environmental advocacy group PennFuture. “So this, to some degree, is to establish a greater stake in the basin.”
Mirror bills in the House and Senate would establish the first coordinated restoration strategy across New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. Congressman John Carney of Delaware says the legislation would also create a grant competition for local conservation groups.
“I think that’s an important component of it–to encourage and involve folks at the very local level. You get that local knowledge, you get that local cooperation, and I think you can do a better job of preservation and restoration,” Carney said.
New efforts would be voluntary, but supporters say a higher profile for the Delaware River could lead to more money to control flooding and improve wetlands and water quality.