Working together to protect the Delaware River Basin

The Delaware River stretches from the Catskill Mountains in New York to the mouth of the Delaware Bay, covering 13,600 square miles, including nearly 1,000 miles in the First State. More than eight million people live within the Delaware River Basin’s boundaries. More than 16 million people depend on the Delaware River as a source of clean drinking water.

This natural treasure is not just an important habitat for wildlife—it’s a major economic engine for our region, too. The Basin contributes $25 billion annually in economic activity. Through the maritime, agriculture, tourism, hunting, fishing and wildlife industries, it supports 600,000 jobs in our region.

I believe it’s so important that we work together to ensure the Delaware River Basin is preserved and protected for generations to come, and that’s why I’m thrilled that Congress last week approved the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act, legislation that I co-authored with Congressman John Carney and Senator Chris Coons. This bill had strong support from a bipartisan group of cosponsors in both chambers of Congress, and with the help of environmental and conservation groups, we reached the finish line.

Despite its ecological and economic importance for millions of families, until last week, there was no federal program to ensure the Delaware River Basin stays clean and healthy. The Delaware River Basin Conservation Act will require federal, state and local partners to work together and preserve the Basin. This is a win-win-win for the environment, for the millions of people who live within and near the watershed, and for the local communities and economies in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.

I’m proud to have worked so closely with environmental advocates and my colleagues in Congress on both sides of the aisle to support this long-needed legislation. Next Congress, I will serve as the top Democrat on the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee and I look forward to keeping up our fight to protect Delaware’s natural resources and grow our economy. We have an obligation to work together to protect our environment and natural spaces so the generations to come can continue to prosper from their economic benefits, but also visit, explore and enjoy their natural beauty.