Leg­is­la­tion to im­prove health of the Delaware

The Advance of Bucks County - - FRONT PAGE - By Cary Beavers

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.”

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