Sen. Carper, Environmental Leaders Discuss the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act of 2011

Legislation will bolster local economic activity and protect critical environment

WILMINGTON, Del. – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) was joined by state environmental leaders at the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary where they discussed legislation that will protect and enhance the Delaware River watershed. The Delaware River Basin Conservation Act of 2011 would not only strengthen the environment, but also enhance the economic impact the watershed has on the area.  

Currently, there is no federal program to protect and enhance the entire Delaware River watershed. The Delaware River Basin Conservation Act of 2011 will establish a federal program at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to coordinate voluntary restoration efforts throughout the Delaware River watershed. Sen. Carper will be joined in supporting the legislation by Sens. Coons (D-Del); Schumer (D-NY), Gillibrand (D-NY), Menendez (D-NJ), and Lautenberg (D-NJ).  

“By investing in our watershed, we are investing in a resource that not only powers our environment and our local communities, but that also fuels our economy,” said Sen. Carper. “The watershed supports jobs at ports and in marine transportation, jobs in agriculture, hunting and fishing, jobs in recreation and parks and tourism, and jobs for folks who work every day to safeguard our water quality and water supply. A healthy watershed also supports our local economy by keeping our air, water and land clean, and helps us avoid spending on clean-up measures that are a lot more expensive to us in the long-run than the cost of protecting these resources upfront.”  

“The Delaware River Basin is vital to the local economy, and we must do all that we can to protect this precious natural resource,” said Sen. Coons. “More than 8 million people depend on the Delaware River Basin for drinking water and recreation, and it is a flourishing habitat for fish and wildlife. As stewards of this important economic and environmental resource, it is of the utmost importance that we support the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act of 2011.”  

Not only does the Delaware River Basin provide drinking water to 15 million people, serving the populations of the first and fifth most populous cities in the U.S. (New York and Philadelphia), it is also an important economic driver to Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. In the tri-state area of Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, it is estimated that the Delaware River contributes more than $10 billion in annual economic activity to the region, and supports more than 200,000 direct and an additional 230,000 indirect jobs.  

State and environmental leaders also spoke of the importance of the legislation at the event.  

“The Delaware River is an environmental treasure and an economic engine for our state. The Delaware River Basin Conservation Act will help coordinate efforts to preserve and protect its irreplaceable natural resources – improving water quality, controlling flooding, and protecting our wetlands, forests and wildlife habitats,” said Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O’Mara. “This legislation will increase our resources, help support locally driven projects and accelerate restoration in the region.”  

“As the National Estuary Program, our focus is on keeping the tidal Delaware River and Bay healthy and productive,” said Jennifer Adkins, executive director of the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. “That’s becoming more and more difficult without the level of investment and coordination with upper-watershed partners that the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act would provide.”  

“What do Boeing, Sunoco, Campbell’s Soup, DuPont, Wawa, Starbucks, Iron Hill Brewery, the Philadelphia Eagles, Salem Nuclear Power Plant, and the United States Navy have in common? They all depend on the waters of the Delaware River Basin to sustain their business,” said Gerald Kaufman, director of the University of Delaware’s Water Resources Agency. “The Delaware River has a long economic and ecological history that dates back 400 years and now provides drinking water to over 5 percent of the U.S. Our research at the University of Delaware concludes that no matter how you count it, the Delaware Basin’s water supplies and natural resources are a substantial economic engine that contributes billions of dollars to the economy.”  

“The Delaware River is a remarkable but sometimes under-appreciated natural asset and is the longest undammed river east of the Mississippi,” said Roger Jones, Jr., state director of the Delaware Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. “Support of this legislation will lead to tangible conservation projects that will benefit people throughout the four-state watershed.”