PASSAGE OF $6 MILLION FEDERAL PROGRAM WOULD IMPROVE THE DELAWARE RIVER BASIN
PHILADELPHIA, PA — Congressman Brendan Boyle, the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, Riverfront North Partnership, Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership, and Pennsylvania Environmental Council gathered for a press conference in Lardner’s Point Park on October 24, 2018 to advocate for 2019 federal funding for Delaware River Basin states, including Pennsylvania. The Delaware River Basin Restoration Program (DRBRP) received $5 million for fiscal year 2018 and stakeholders are now encouraging Congress to increase the funding to $6 million for fiscal year 2019. On September 28th, Congress did not vote on the fiscal year 2019 Department of Interior bill, which contains DRBRP funding. Instead, Congress passed a continuing resolution, giving them until December 7th to act.
The Delaware River Basin encompasses portions of Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, and New Jersey, and supplies over 15 million people with drinking water, which is 5% of the U.S. population – including the City of Philadelphia. In Pennsylvania, the Delaware River Basin includes 17 counties from the Pocono Mountains down to Philadelphia, occupies 14% of Pennsylvania’s land area, and includes 43% of the state’s population.
“The Delaware River Basin Restoration Program is an investment in the future of our region.Philadelphians and countless others in the Delaware valley region rely on a healthy, vibrant basin for drinking water, recreation, and jobs. I was proud to help lead the fight to establish the program, but now we must make sure it gets a proper start fulfilling its important mission. Fiscal year 2019 funding in the amount of $6 million would protect the Delaware River Basin for generations to come,” added Congressman Brendan Boyle (PA-13).
Fiscal year 2019 DRBRP funding would support the Delaware River Basin Conservation Fund, a grant program supporting on-the-ground land and water conservation and restoration projects. Funding would address some of the Pennsylvania’s environmental issues, such as conserving and restoring fish and wildlife habitat, improving and maintaining water quality, sustaining and enhancing water management and reducing flood damage, and improving recreational opportunities and public access in the Delaware River Basin. “Our projects within the Delaware River Basin along Jenkintown Creek have utilized different federal grants to manage stormwater and improve water quality in our creeks. Federal dollars invested in our communities go a long way to address water management and quality issues. For fiscal year 2019, $6 million in Delaware River Basin Restoration Program funds are needed to protect the basin that over 15 million people rely on for drinking water,” said Julie Slavet, Executive Director, Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership.
In Pennsylvania, the Delaware River Basin is an economic engine, as Pennsylvania jobs directly associated with the Delaware River Basin, such as fishing, recreation, tourism, water/sewer construction, water utilities, and ports, creates 130,364 jobs that earn $2.8 billion in wages. The Delaware River Basin provides habitat for over 200 resident and migrant fish species, as well as birds, mammals, and other wildlife. Several threatened or endangered species call the basin home as well, such as the Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon and the dwarf wedgemussel.
“The committed partners – community watershed groups, private organizations, and local governments – who are working to implement site-specific projects to reduce pollution and produce clean water, would lack money to do so without $6 million in federal funding,” added Susan Myerov, Watersheds Program Director for the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. “Federal funds can match existing private and public funding and will accelerate watershed restoration. The path to success is thousands of site-specific land-based projects that cumulatively will achieve our goal of cleaner water for the entire basin for generations to come.”
An example of improving the Delaware River Basin through leveraging grant funding can be seen at Riverfront North’s living shoreline in Lardner’s Point Park. The living shoreline project was completed in early 2018 and was funded by William Penn Foundation and the City of Philadelphia. The project was spurred by an eroding shoreline a few feet away from impacting the adjacent riverside trail. When Lardner’s Point Park was built in 2012, it was partially funded with federal dollars and a south-of-the-pier living shoreline was created, funded by federal dollars as part of the Athos Oil Spill settlement. The shoreline features live-branch layering, live-branch staking, and tree root wads as habitat creating instruments.
“The living shoreline project on the Delaware River not only created new habitats, an intertidal marsh, and stabilized the riverfront, it has also helped us to engage our community for stewardship activities and environmental learning,” said Stephanie Phillips, Executive Director, Riverfront North Partnership. “Federal grants like the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program provide essential funding to improve habitat and foster deeper connections with the people who help us to care for these spaces. The work that’s been done at Lardner’s Point Park couldn’t have been completed without leveraging grant funds.”
Improvements at Lardner’s Point Park are also creating a healthier habitat for birds that rely on the Delaware River, as National Audubon’s science team has designated the park an Important Bird Area.
For more information, contact Rita Yelda: email@example.com. TTF is proud to be a member of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed; Julie Slavet serves of the CDRW Steering Committee.