Delaware River Watershed Act Introduced

Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) and six of his Senate colleagues yesterday introduced the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act of 2015 to restore and preserve the Delaware River watershed.

The legislation, co-sponsored by Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Cory Booker and Robert Menendez (both D-N.J.), Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand (both D-N.Y.), and Robert Casey (D-Penn.), will strengthen the watershed’s environmental health as well as the region’s economy.

The Delaware River is directly responsible for an estimated $25 billion in annual economic activity, and supports approximately 600,000 jobs with $10 billion in annual wages.

Unlike the Chesapeake Bay and Long Island Sound, the Delaware River does not currently have a federal program dedicated to its conservation and livelihood.

The Delaware River Basin Conservation Act of 2015 would establish a Delaware River Basin Restoration Program in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The program will coordinate with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director to identify and implement restoration and protection efforts across the river basin.

The legislation requires consultation with federal and state agencies, regional partnerships, local governments, and other organizations that would ensure the program’s strategy is science-based, cost-effective and that it facilitates measurable outcomes.

Additionally, the bill would create a competitive and voluntary $5 million annual grant program to fund on-the-ground watershed restoration projects, with a maximum federal share of 50 percent.