Good news: Delaware chooses clean water for 2019
On behalf of the Clean Water: Delaware's Clear Choice campaign, the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays would like to thank Gov. John Carney and the Delaware Legislature for their efforts that secured $10 million for open space preservation, $10 million for farmland preservation, and $10 million for investments for clean water in Delaware's budget for fiscal year 2019.
Clean water is essential to everyone, impacting our everyday lives through the food we eat; the streams, rivers, lakes and bays near our homes; our health; and our economy. Unfortunately, 90 percent of Delaware's waterways are polluted, 100 miles of Delaware's waters have fish consumption advisories, and Delaware faces an annual deficit of $100 million to address our water-quality needs.
Fortunately, the future of our water just got a little bit brighter.
Each year, the governor and state Legislature have the task of passing their Bond Bill for the upcoming fiscal year that designates funding for capital improvements such as road repairs, building maintenance and land preservation. On the final day of legislative session, Gov. Carney and the Legislature passed a bill that includes $30 million combined for open space preservation, farmland preservation, and investments in clean water. This exceeded the original proposed $26 million combined, and is the most conservation funding that Delaware has received in over a decade.
While putting money toward clean water is obviously a win for Delaware's waterways, the inclusion of millions for open space and farmland preservation is also important to the cause.
The preservation of open spaces protects areas that absorb floodwaters and filter stormwater runoff before it lands in our waterways. Such parks and forests also offer relief to the pressure that increased development puts on our water infrastructure and natural resources - especially in fast-growing Sussex County.
The new fiscal year officially began July 1, which means that Delawareans can expect to see this money put to use within the year.
Projects funded throughout the state could include improvements to wastewater systems, flood-reduction initiatives, innovative toxic removal technologies, and investments in drinking-water quality.
This could not have been achieved without those who spoke up for clean water throughout the state. Whether you rallied in front of Legislative Hall earlier this month, advocated for funding in front of the House Natural Resources Committee, or promoted clean water during the Bond Bill Committee process, you made a difference
But it is important to keep working toward this clean-water goal.
While this infusion of funding for Delaware's waterways is exciting, more is still needed.
"The funding we've received for this year is a big step in the right direction and we're grateful for the support," explains Delaware Center for the Inland Bays Executive Director Chris Bason.
"But we're still falling short of the $100 million needed annually for clean water projects throughout the state. It is important that we continue to work toward a long-term and sustainable funding solution for Delaware's water needs."
Once again, on behalf of the Clean Water: Delaware's Clear Choice campaign, the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, thank you Gov. Carney, Delaware Legislature, and clean- water supporters for their hard work and dedication to this cause. Let's keep moving in a positive direction!
The Clean Water: Delaware's Clear Choice campaign is a statewide outreach and education effort focused on securing additional funding for clean water. The campaign supports additional funding going toward improvement to wastewater systems, flood-reduction initiatives, restoration of our natural resources like wetlands, innovative toxic removal technologies and investments in drinking water. Learn more about the campaign at www.cleanwaterdelaware.org.