Federal 2021 budget includes $10M for Delaware River conservation
The Delaware River Basin Restoration Program received $10 million in funding as part of the fiscal 2021 Interior Appropriations bill approved by Congress and signed by the president, a modest increase from $9.7 million last year.
The DRBRP will provide technical assistance and grant funds in 2021 to address the Delaware River Basin’s environmental challenges in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Early next year, government entities, nonprofit organizations and schools within the basin can apply for funds to implement on-the-ground restoration and conservation projects.
"We applaud the Congressional champions who supported the inclusion of $10 million for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program in the 2021 federal budget," said Sandra Meola, director, Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed. “This program represents a critical investment in the land and water resources of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. The program empowers organizations to tackle critical environmental issues, such as overdevelopment, stormwater runoff, flooding, stream erosion and loss of wildlife habitat. The increase in funding for the Delaware River Basin will allow for the continued expansion of conservation and restoration of the resources upon which people, wildlife and our economy rely.”
Since 2018, the grant program created by the DRBRP, called the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund, has awarded $16.86 million to 90 projects, which generated $34.05 million in match, for a total conservation impact of $50.91 million. These projects will collectively restore almost 17 miles of riparian habitat and 73 miles of stream habitat, conserve and enhance 297 acres of wetland habitat, restore 251 acres of floodplain, improve 10,648 acres of forest habitat and open 3,173 acres for public access.
Investment in the Delaware River Basin is significant because it encompasses portions of four states and supplies about 13.3 million people — 4% of the U.S. population — with water for drinking, washing and farming. Additionally, the Delaware River Basin is the only water source for two major U.S. cities — New York, which takes 50% of its drinking water, and Philadelphia, which relies on it for 100% of its water.
The Delaware River Basin is also a major economic driver for the region, bringing in $25 billion annually in economic activity and supporting 600,000 jobs. Land and water within the Delaware River Basin must also be protected as it provides habitat to more than 400 types of birds, more than 90 fish species, and other animals, including several threatened and endangered species.