Grants will Support Commission Water Quality and Flow Management Work
WEST TRENTON, N.J. (September 19) – DRBC is pleased to announce that it has been awarded two grants through the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund to support projects that will enhance our understanding of how flow management regimes in the Upper Delaware River affect habitat and will further the development of the commission’s eutrophication model, which will be used to determine whether higher dissolved oxygen levels can be achieved in the Delaware Estuary, improving water quality.
The National Fish and Wildlife Federation (NFWF) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced the second round of grant monies from the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund (DWCF) earlier this week. Funding was awarded to 29 different projects throughout the Delaware River Basin, totaling $4.63 million; another $5.75 million was committed by the grantees, totaling $10.38 million dollars for projects that will focus on restoration and conservation of the basin’s land and water resources.
“We are appreciative of receiving this grant funding to support our flow management and habitat enhancement work in the upper basin, as well as our ongoing efforts to increase water quality and better support aquatic life in the estuary,” said DRBC Executive Director Steve Tambini. “Further, we congratulate all grant recipients and thank them for their commitments to improving the ecological health of the basin and the quality of life for its residents.”
The first project DRBC received funding for is entitled Creating a Web-Based Habitat Model for the Upper Delaware River (NJ, NY, PA); the grant is for $128,750, with a $136,480 match by DRBC, totaling of $265,230. This project will build upon existing models that measure habitat changes resulting from regulated flow and temperature mitigation efforts in the upper Delaware River Basin. The updated habitat models resulting from this effort will be used by DRBC's Subcommittee on Ecological Flows and other resource stakeholders to evaluate how reservoir release and flow management protocols affect available habitat. The new models will be expandable, accommodating new research and additional species, and will be able to be used for other parts of the Delaware River.
The second project is entitled Characterization of Algal Composition and Dissolved Oxygen in the Delaware Estuary (DE, NJ, PA); the grant is for $88,854, with a $90,000 DRBC match, totaling $178,854. This effort will collect data on existing algal communities and dissolved oxygen levels at various depths to better our understanding of the impacts of algal growth on dissolved oxygen in the tidal Delaware River and Bay; data will be analyzed by the Academy of Natural Sciences. The project will enhance the eutrophication model currently being developed by the commission, which will help us determine whether higher dissolved oxygen levels are achievable, allowing for the potential improvement of fishery resources in the estuary.
The DWCF was created in 2018 and stemmed from federal legislation passed in 2016 that created the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act. The Act is a non-regulatory program administered FWS and NFWF, with the goal of funding projects that will enhance fish and wildlife habitat, improve water quality, and support conservation best practices in local communities. Technical assistance is provided through this program, which requires matching funds from grantees, and supports on-the-ground work by state and local governments, non-profit organizations, and universities.
DRBC also received funding from the first round of grants from this program, which were announced earlier this year. The commission received a grant to monitor for and model loadings of microplastics in the upper Delaware River Estuary. This project is currently underway.
The DRBC is a federal/interstate government agency responsible for managing the water resources within the Delaware River Basin without regard to political boundaries. The five commission members are the governors of the basin states (Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) and the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ North Atlantic Division, who represents the federal government.