Legislation to improve health of the Delaware
BUCKS COUNTY - U.S. Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-8) Wednesday introduced the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act, legislation aimed at improving the Delaware River Watershed without dipping into the Federal Government’s pockets.
Fitzpatrick said the multi-purpose legislation will focus on coordinating the agencies that have signifiFDnW inWHUHsW in WKH KHDOWK Rf the Delaware River.
This coordination would include taking federal dollars already earmarked for watershed conservation and directing it to the Delaware. According to Fitzpatrick, “the Delaware River is one of the only major watersheds in the United States that currently lacks a basin-wide coordinated conservation strategy and dedicated federal support.”
Fitzpatrick announced the legislation via conference call Wednesday afternoon. He was joined by Robert Tudor, Deputy Director of the Delaware River Basin Commission and Brian Cowden of Trout Unlimited, an organization whose mission is “to conserve, protect and restore NRUWK APHUiFD’s FROGwDWHU fisKeries and their watersheds.”
“The purpose of this act is to bring all relevant agencies and organizations together and get everyone working toward the conservation goals that we all share,” Fitzpatrick said, “and we’d be doing that with no new federal spending. The money will come fURP HxisWing fisK DnG wiOGOifH DSpropriations.”
There is federal money out there but none of it is currently funnHOHG, figuUDWiYHOy sSHDNing, into the Delaware, Fitzpatrick said. This legislation will change that, according to the Congressman.
“We’d essentially be giving the Delaware River Basin the same opportunity to compete for fisK DnG wiOGOifH UHsRuUFHs, DORng with every other watershed in the country,” Fitzpatrick said.
The legislation is built around a strategy to get organizations with similar goals on the same page, Tudor said.
“This will make us work in PRUH HffiFiHnW fDsKiRn DnG PRUH strategically,” Tudor said of organizations like Trout Unlimited, the Delaware River Basin Commission and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Tudor emphasized that bringing these organizations together will be more effective than a lot of smaller organizations working alone.
“Sometimes if you have one organization that has a little bit of resources to do something and have another group that has a little bit of resources, it doesn’t work as well,” Tudor said. “We’re going to be leveraging each other’s resources to make
the whole bigger than the sum of the parts.”
While the Act is designed to fund the Delaware River in general, Fitzpatrick and his co-sponsors, a bipartisan group that includes John Carney (D-DE), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) and Rush Holt (D-NJ), had VSHFLfiF DUHDV LQ PLQG ZhHQ LQWURGuFLQJ WhH lHJLVlDWLRQ, WhH PRVW REYLRuV RI ZhLFh LV flRRGLQJ.
“LLNH VR PDQy RWhHU ULYHU FRPPuQLWLHV, ZH hDYH VLJQLfiFDQW, UHSHWLWLYH flRRGLQJ,” )LWzSDWULFN VDLG. “7hH ZDWHU LV EHDuWLIul DV lRQJ DV it’s within its banks, but too often it enters people’s homes and stays awhile.”
Fitzpatrick said the competitive grant money from the act could be uVHG IRU flRRG PLWLJDWLRQ SURMHFWV.
“The Governors of Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and New YRUN hDYH DlVR FDllHG IRU QDWuUDl flRRG GDPDJH UHGuFWLRQ PHDVuUHV WR hHlS ZLWh flRRG FRQWURlV,” hH VDLG. “7ZR HxDPSlHV DUH LPSlHPHQWLQJ measures to better manage the water volume in the Basin, and restorLQJ ULSDULDQ FRUULGRUV (WhH SDUW RI WhH flRRGSlDLQ FlRVHVW WR WhH FhDQQHl), ZhLFh DFW lLNH D VSRQJH DQG UHGuFHV flRRGLQJ DQG HURVLRQ.”
The Congressman, who labeled his district as “the heart of the Delaware River watershed,” also referenced habitat and water quality as areas in need of assistance. Cowden agreed.
“7hH DHlDZDUH 5LYHU VuSSlLHV D Iull fiYH SHUFHQW RI WhH 8QLWHG States population with drinking water,” Cowden said. “That’s a very VLJQLfiFDQW QuPEHU ZhHQ yRu lRRN DW LWV UHlDWLYHly VPDll VLzH DQG FRPpare it to the size of the nation itself.”