Gov. John Carney, House Majority Leader Rep. Valerie Longhurst and Senate President Pro Tempore David McBride joined advocates and members of the General Assembly on Jan. 21 to announce significant new investments in clean water across Delaware.
The Clean Water for Delaware Act — sponsored by Longhurst and McBride — will create a Delaware Clean Water Trust to help rebuild Delaware’s drinking water infrastructure, prevent flooding in vulnerable communities and keep contamination out of the state’s waterways.
The trust will be initially funded with $50 million in Carney’s proposed fiscal 2021 budget. Carney will release his budget proposal Jan. 30 at the Delaware Public Archives in Dover.
“From the Brandywine Creek to the Inland Bays, we have special natural places in our state,” said Carney. “Water is Delaware’s most basic and valuable resource, and we should protect that resource for future generations. We also need to make sure that all Delaware families have access to clean drinking water. Delawareans deserve clean water. It’s as simple as that.”
“This is a monumental piece of legislation for Delaware that impacts a resource we simply cannot live without: water,” said Longhurst, chief sponsor of the Clean Water for Delaware Act. “The time to protect our waterways, support our stormwater systems and ensure clean, healthy drinking water to our residents is now. I’ve traveled up and down the state talking to Delawareans about how we need to protect our natural resources. This is an issue of environmental justice. Clean drinking water, safe waterways, updated infrastructure and adequate wastewater treatment are not luxuries; they are necessities. What we are doing today is taking a huge step forward toward securing our future and ensuring that our children and grandchildren have those necessities of life.”
“No community in Delaware should live in fear of polluted water and failing wastewater systems,” said McBride. “Yet across our great state, hundreds of our residents must be leery of the water they drink and the fish they catch. As we enter our third straight year of surpluses, the time has come to take action. I want to thank Gov. John Carney for working with the General Assembly to find the revenue we need to begin addressing this problem today. Our vulnerable communities simply cannot wait any longer.”
“I want to commend Gov. John Carney for taking this critical step to secure our public health, our environment, our economy, and our way of life,” said Sen. Bryan Townsend. “Today, a large number of Delaware’s waterways have become polluted, whole communities cannot drink their tap water, and the majority of wastewater infrastructure desperately needs to be replaced. This funding is a step in the right direction.”
The Clean Water for Delaware Act will require an annual strategic planning process, and will place a new emphasis on infrastructure projects in low-income, underserved communities. In the first year, $50 million in state funding will leverage significant federal investment in Delaware’s water quality.
“Ninety percent of Delaware’s waterways are polluted or impaired,” said Anne Harper, Executive Director of the Delaware Nature Society. “Nearly five years ago Delaware Nature Society founded the Clean Water Campaign as a statewide coalition to secure funding to improve Delaware’s water quality. The coalition and our Water Warriors have been with us every step of the way. This new proposal is a giant step toward clean water in Delaware. Clean water is critical to Delaware’s economy, environment, wildlife, food supply and public health. We look forward to working with Gov. Carney, Rep. Longhurst, Se. McBride, Sen. Townsend, the General Assembly and our Water Warrior volunteers to secure the proposed $50 million in clean water funding.”