Environmental groups urge Delaware River governors to meet
REGION — Seven environmental groups have come together to urge the governors of the four states that border the Delaware River to attend a summit in 2019 with all four governors, part of a campaign called 4 the Delaware. The governors are John Carney Jr. of Delaware, Phil Murphy of New Jersey, Andrew Cuomo of New York and Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania.
The groups delivered more than 4,000 signatures to Wolf November 28, urging him to take steps to protect the river—including taking the lead on creating a plan that would protect drinking water and wildlife, and direct funding toward those initiatives.
One of the groups behind the drive is Pennfuture. “People across the state are taking action on behalf of the Delaware River Basin, and this is another chance for citizens to take action for clean water,” said Jacquelyn Bonomo, president and CEO of PennFuture. “We thank Gov. Wolf for protecting Pennsylvania’s parks and streams, while making the Delaware a priority. This petition urges him to take the next step and stand with our neighboring states to protect the Delaware River basin so that families, towns, businesses and wildlife that depend on it can thrive.”
The Delaware River and the surrounding basin provide drinking water for 15 million U.S. residents, including those who live in New York City, Philadelphia and Trenton. The river is also an economic engine for the four states that border it. According to the National Wildlife Federation’s 4 The Delaware campaign (4thedelaware.nwf.org), the river generates $25 billion in economic activity each year. Further, “The Delaware River Basin creates 130,364 jobs, such as in fishing, recreation, tourism, water/sewer construction, water utilities and ports, that generate $2.8 billion in wages.”
In 2018, Congress for the first time committed funding for the restoration of the river and the wider basin in the amount of $5 million. The environmental groups applauded that development but say more protections are needed.
“Through the leadership of the four Delaware River Basin governors, a new vision for the future of the basin must be forged. We’re delivering these petition signatures on behalf of thousands of residents to signify that now is the time to prioritize the basin and further basin-wide planning and protection efforts for our drinking water, wildlife habitat and economy,” said Sandra Meola, director of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed.
The 4 the Delaware campaign says it has received “strong interest” from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, for a summit of the governors early in 2019 to create a long-term plan for the management of the river and basin.