Carper Announces Delaware River Basin Conservation Act Reauthorization Legislation

The legislation would continue efforts to improve water quality, resiliency, wildlife habitats, and outdoor recreation access 

Bill Text

MIDDLETOWN, Del. — U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, today reintroduced legislation to reauthorize the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act.

Carper made the announcement during an event highlighting the program’s success to date with Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), Delaware Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Secretary Shawn Garvin, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service North Atlantic-Appalachian Regional Director Wendi Weber, National Wildlife Federation President Collin O’Mara, and members of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed at Thousand Acre Marsh.

“The Delaware River Basin Conservation Act extends a program that is a tremendous success story that we can and should continue,” said Senator Carper. “In Delaware, the law has facilitated projects such as wetland habitat conservation in the Thousand Acre Marsh and an urban wildlife community engagement program. These restoration efforts protect the species we love, clean up our drinking water, and provide a boost to local tourism. Reauthorizing the legislation would have clear benefits for our environment and economy — a win-win for Delaware and our region.”

“Delaware’s natural resources help make our state a great place to live, work, and visit,” said Senator Coons. “Reauthorizing the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act will ensure a better, more resilient future for our Delaware ecosystem and economy. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will continue working to secure funding to protect our state’s land, water, and wildlife by supporting restoration projects in the Delaware River Basin.”

“Delaware is full of rich and historic natural heritage including areas like the Thousand Acre Marsh,” said Congresswoman Blunt Rochester. “Reauthorizing the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act would allow us to conserve these areas for future generations of Delawareans to enjoy. That’s why I’m honored to join Senator Carper and Senator Coons in introducing the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act in the House to reauthorize this vital program — so we can continue to invest in our environment, our health, and our future.”

“Since its establishment in 2016, the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program has helped advance shared goals for conserving and connecting lands and waters that fish, wildlife, and people here depend upon,” said Wendi Weber, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s North Atlantic-Appalachian Regional Director. “Partner-driven investments from the program’s Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund will produce positive ripple effects in this landscape for generations to come.”

“The water levels within the Thousand Acre Marsh are controlled to provide vital habitat and food sources for waterfowl, shorebirds and many other resident and migratory fish and wildlife species,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “With grant funding made possible by the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act, DNREC worked with DelDOT to replace major components of the water control system, restoring our ability to manage Thousand Acre Marsh, to support a diversity of wildlife and provide public access.”

“The restoration projects fueled by the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act are rejuvenating America’s first waterway. This progress shows that when we work together, we can recover imperiled fish and wildlife population, improve water quality, expand equitable recreational access, and create good jobs. Reauthorizing the DRBCA to ensure we can continue its success just makes common-sense sense,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “We’re proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Senator Carper, Senator Coons, Representative Blunt Rochester and their colleagues as they work hard every day in Washington to bring home much needed funds for key projects across the Delaware Basin — from restoring shad runs by removing dilapidated dams on the Brandywine and White Clay to partnering with congregation and faith communities to replant critical wildlife habitat at houses of worship — and the best is yet to come.”

“Thank you to Senator Carper and the Delaware delegation for their support of the Delaware River Basin Conservation Reauthorization Act.  The Delaware River Watershed is the home to almost 3/4 of Delawareans and supplies drinking water for 725,000 people statewide,” said Emily Knearl of the Nature Conservancy, Delaware/Pennsylvania chapter. “The investments enabled by this Act are so important to the Nature Conservancy and other environmental organizations to help protect and restore vital wetlands, habitats and waterways.”


Signed into law in 2016, the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act has successfully brought federal, state, and local governments together with regional partners to identify, prioritize, and implement restoration activities within the Delaware River Basin. Grants through the legislation have assisted states with restoration projects. To date, the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund — funded through the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act — has awarded $26.6 million to 123 projects that support recreation, water quality, water management, and habitat. Grantees have matched that investment by a ratio of nearly 2-to-1 — a total conservation impact of $72.6 million.

Carper’s legislation would reauthorize the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act through September 30, 2030, and make it easier for small, rural, and disadvantaged communities to engage in restoration projects. Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) joined Carper to introduce the legislation.  

Bill text is available here.


The Thousand Acre Marsh is the largest impounded freshwater wetland complex in Delaware and a haven for coastal wetland-associated waterfowl, water birds, shorebirds, muskrat, mink, and fish. The U.S. Department of the Interior considers Thousand Acre Marsh one of the “50 Most Beautiful Landscapes in America.”

Unfortunately, the wetland complex has been threatened by high water levels and increased salinities due to a failing water control structure. Thanks to the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act, DNREC and the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) have repaired tidal gates in the wetland complex, restoring the wetlands and conserving the many species of wildlife that call it home.