Clean water initiatives worth celebrating
Delaware’s greatest natural resources are its environment and its mid-Atlantic location in close proximity to one of the nation’s largest megalopolises.
Gov. John Carney’s recent comments about the economic importance of the state’s record-breaking, multibillion-dollar tourism industry in 2019 punctuate that assessment. That’s why three multimillion-dollar initiatives in the governor’s proposed budget for the fiscal year starting in June are so critical for Sussex County.
The standout initiative is a $50 million clean water program that targets efforts to ensure clean drinking water as well as efforts to make sure polluting stormwater and wastewater don’t make it into the waterways that so distinctly characterize the Delaware experience.
The need for clean drinking water stands on its own, but clean waterways and beaches play an outsized role in our allure to tourists and deserve further comment. Too often in recent years, we have published state notifications announcing beach closures in the summer due primarily to polluting stormwater. Due to health concerns, the state posts signs at beaches around our Inland Bays warning swimmers of potential problems caused by bacteria in the water.
The state also publishes maps and posts signs about and near certain shellfish-producing waters in some of our rivers – like the Broadkill – as well as our canals and parts of our Inland Bays advising that shellfishing is prohibited also due to health concerns.
Such signs are embarrassing. They say we are not being good stewards of the bountiful resources nature will provide if given a fighting chance. This clean-water initiative is designed to do just that, but it will take many years of sustained attention before those signs and announcements are a thing of the past.
We also will never tire of celebrating initiatives like the $10 million for farmland preservation and $10 million for open space preservation that Carney, piggybacking on similar investments in the past two years, has included in his latest budget. Both of those initiatives will pay dividends to all Delawareans for years to come while also contributing to maintaining cleaner water.