Funding for Delaware River Basin Projects in NY, NJ, PA, and DE Receives a 62% Increase
TRENTON, NJ – On December 20, the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program (DRBRP) received $9.7 million in funding as part of the fiscal year 2020 Interior Appropriations bill
approved by Congress and signed by the President, a 62% increase from fiscal year 2019’s funding levels. The DRBRP will provide much-needed technical assistance and grant funds to address the Delaware River Basin’s environmental challenges. This funding will support eligible applicants in NY, NJ, PA, and DE, including government entities, non-profit organizations, and institutes of education implement on-the-ground restoration and conservation projects. Projects will combat critical issues such as overdevelopment, stormwater runoff, flooding, stream erosion, and loss of wildlife habitat.
“The Delaware River Basin Restoration Program represents a critical investment in the future of our region. We have strongly advocated for the inclusion of $10 million for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program and are thrilled by the tremendous amount of good the program has done so far. We anticipate a growing demand for the project funding from eligible entities throughout the basin,” said Sandra Meola, Director at New Jersey Audubon and the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed. “We are immensely grateful to Congressional champions for affirming the importance of the basin with a significant increase of 62% in fiscal year 2020 for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program. We know that this funding increase will allow for the necessary improvement of the land and water resources upon which people, wildlife, and our economy relies.”
In the first two years of implementation, the DRBRP has funded 53 projects throughout the basin and awarded $8.74 million in grants for these projects. These grants have generated $12.04 million in matching funds for a total conservation impact of $20.78 million. These projects will collectively: restore 10 miles of riparian habitat and 17 miles of stream habitat; conserve and enhance 119 acres of wetland habitat; restore 251 acres of floodplain; improve 3,737 acres of forest habitat; and open 200 acres of land for public access. With federal funding increased by 62%, even more conservation and restoration projects can begin to address environmental concerns within the basin.
The Delaware River Basin is significant because it encompasses portions of four states and supplies about 13.3 million people (4% of the U.S. population) with water for drinking, washing, and farming. Additionally, the Delaware River Basin is the only water source for two major U.S. cities, Philadelphia (100%) and New York (about 50%.) The Delaware River Basin is also a major economic driver for the region, bringing in about $25 billion annually in economic activity and supporting about 600,000 jobs. Land and water within the Delaware River Basin must also be protected as it provides habitat to over 400 types of birds, over 90 fish species, and many other animals, including threatened and endangered species.
|State||% of Land Area in the Basin||% of Population in the Basin||Direct Employment (i.e. fishing, tourism, ports, water utilities)||Receive Water from the Basin||Major Tributaries that are Part of the Basin|
|New Jersey||40%||22%||62,349 jobs, $1.3 billion wages||2.6 million people (including D&R diversion)||Musconetcong, Maurice, Salem, Rancocas|
|Pennsylvania||14%||43%||130,364 jobs, $2.8 billion wages||5.6 million people||Lehigh, Schuylkill|
|Delaware||50%||74%||15,737 jobs, $340 million wages||725,545 people||Christina, Brandywine|
|New York||5%||.7%||32,171 jobs, $550 million wages||4.6 million people (including NYC diversion)||East and West Branch, Neversink|
- New Jersey: “By increasing funding for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program from six million in fiscal year 2019 to almost ten million dollars in fiscal year 2020, Congress is stepping up to address issues threatening the future of the basin. These funds will conserve and restore fish and wildlife habitat, improve and maintain water quality, sustain and enhance water management and reduce flood damage, and improve recreational opportunities and public access in the Delaware River Basin,” added Ed Potosnak, Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters.
- Pennsylvania: “From the Poconos down to Philadelphia – nonprofits, state, and local governments will be able to apply for fiscal year 2020 Delaware River Basin Restoration Program funding for site-specific projects that result in cleaner water, more green space, and restored wildlife habitat,” stated Jacquelyn Bonomo, President and CEO, PennFuture. “Restoring and conserving the basin is crucial for the Keystone state, as the Delaware River and its tributaries, such as the Schuylkill and Lehigh Rivers, encompass over forty percent of the state’s population.”
- Delaware: “We’re grateful to see increased federal investment in the four-state, 13,500-square mile Delaware River Basin, which is an ecological and economic powerhouse that more than 8 million people call home in the densely populated Mid-Atlantic region. The basin is an historical icon that is home to nationally significant ecological and recreational assets, including six National Wildlife Refuges, like Bombay Hook and Prime Hook, and one of the largest systems in the National Estuary Program,” said Anne Harper, Executive Director, Delaware Nature Society.
- New York: “The Upper Delaware River’s clean water and prime outdoor recreational opportunities support a growing and increasingly important river-based regional economy in New York State. With a $3.7 million dollar increase from last year, the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program has more capacity to potentially invest in the Upper Delaware, which will safeguard the area’s jobs, boost tourism, and ensure this essential resource stays healthy,” said Jeff Skelding, Executive Director, Friends of the Upper Delaware River.
The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed is a network of 150 non-governmental organizations in NJ, PA, DE, and NY dedicated to protecting and restoring the natural resources of the Delaware River Basin. For more information, visit www.DelRiverWatershed.org.