A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers are supporting a bill to reauthorize funding of conservation efforts along the Delaware River.
Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, a Republican from Middletown Township, is among the group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers introducing and supporting the Delaware River Basin Conservation Reauthorization Act.
The legislation proposes changes to major program components to increase equality in the Delaware River Basin by making it easier for underserved rural and urban communities to get financing for crucial water quality and conservation initiatives. In order to combat the environmental challenges that towns across the Delaware River Watershed confront, legislation will work in conjunction with existing federal projects.
The Delaware River Basin Conservation Act was signed into law in 2016 to identify, prioritize, and implement restoration activities within the Delaware River basin.
Since it was signed into law in 2016, the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act has awarded $40.4 million to approximately 150 projects in the basin. A legislative fact sheet said the conservation projects have had a $100 million impact.
The 2016 act is set to expire in September. The reauthorization act would extend the program funding through 2030.
A reauthorization bill was in Congress last session, but it failed to pass before the end of the session.
Fitzpatrick; Democratic Congressman Dwight Evans, of Philadelphia; Democratic Congressman Brendan Boyle, of Philadelphia; Democratic Congressman Andy Kim, of New Jersey; Democratic Congressman Brendan Boyle, of Philadelphia; Democratic Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, of Delaware; and others introduced the legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware, has introduced a companion bill in the Senate.
“The Delaware River is a crucial natural resource for our communities in Bucks and Montgomery Counties and for Pennsylvania’s neighbors,” said Fitzpatrick in a press release. “I am proud to introduce this bipartisan, bicameral bill to ensure that federal funding continues to reach our state, local, and nonprofit partners engaging in conservation and restoration efforts throughout the Delaware River Watershed area.”
“This program provides valuable support, through technical and grant assistance, to restoration and protection activities throughout the Delaware River Basin, a vital watershed covering over 13,000 square miles in four states and reaching 15 million people,” Evans said.
“While we applaud this important step, we also acknowledge there is much more work to be done, and believe Congress must not only pass this reauthorization legislation, but also follow up reauthorization by allocating additional funding that continues supporting the DRBCA for years to come,” said Kelly Knutson, director of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed.