Thanks to the advocacy and support of our Water Warriors (that’s you!) we secured even more funding than originally proposed for clean water in the final version of Delaware’s budget!
In our last blog, we explained Delaware’s complicated budget process and how our governor and state legislature designate funding for capital improvements including road repairs, building maintenance and, of most importance to our campaign, projects that would improve our water quality. Water quality improvement projects that fall under capital improvements include upgrades to sewer systems; “green” solutions like improved wetlands; and the preservation of open space and farmland. Long story short: The Governor proposed a budget for Fiscal Year 2019 (FY2019) that included $6 million for clean water investments, $10 million for open space preservation and $10 million for farmland preservation.
In addition to the $10 million for open space preservation and $10 million for farmland preservation, Delaware’s FY2019 budget includes $10 million (almost double the proposed number) for investments in clean water! Not only is this unheard of in recent years as state budgets across the nation shrink smaller; but it’s the most conservation funding Delaware has received in over a decade!
FY2019 in Delaware began July 1, 2018 and will continue through June 30, 2019; so, these investments affect us NOW!
Thank You Clean Water Advocates!
How did this happen? Well, it happened because of you, our defenders of clean water! Whether you were one of the 200 people that rallied in front of Legislative Hall earlier this month;80 people that advocated for more funding in front of the House Natural Resources Committee this year; one of the dozens of individuals that advocated for clean water funding in the Bond Bill Committee process;or a representative of the almost 30 organizations that signed onto joint letters to Governor Carney and/or the Bond Bill committee supporting clean water funding – decision makers heard us loud and clear – clean water is essential to every part of our life!
The future of Delaware’s water is better because of your advocacy, energy and dedication. Thank you for your calls, emails, letters to the editor, in-person conversations, trips to Dover, social media outreach and more!
Where Will This Money Go?
It could go to projects such as:
- Emergency repairs to one of New Castle County’s largest underground stretches of concrete and steel piping that carries up to hundreds of millions of gallons of sewage a day into a treatment plant;
- Upgrades to the wastewater treatment facility in Seaford;
- Increasing filter capacity for the drinking water in Blades; and
- The South Wilmington Wetland project, which will use natural solutions to reduce flooding; among others.
These updates are crucial and need immediate attention. Every person deserves clean drinking water and reassurance that their sewage is being properly treated before landing in our waterways; and the funding for these projects will help us reach our goal.
But Open Space and Farmland Preservation? How Does That Affect Water Quality?
You might be wondering, “how does funding towards farmland preservation and open space result in cleaner water?” In the case of farmland preservation, well-managed agricultural lands provide food and cover for wildlife, protect nearby wetlands and watersheds, and absorb floodwaters. In Delaware, it’s also important to note that farmland preservation money also preserves all the natural areas including forestlands on farms.Additionally, farmland preservation offers an important alternative to the significant increase in the pressure sprawling suburban development puts on our water infrastructure and natural resources, especially in Sussex County.
In the case of open space preservation, pristine lands like forests and parks protect our wildlife, absorb flood waters, and filter stormwater runoff before it lands in our waterways. In fact, just one tree can capture and filter 36,500 gallons of water per year! Without this much-needed open space, we’d need an even bigger, more complicated, and more expensive water quality solution to our problems.
What is Next?
This infusion of funding for Delaware’s waterways is exciting, but it isn’t the long-term solution we need to ensure our state’s drinking water and natural resources remain safe and healthy for generations to come. We must continue to urge the Governor, his cabinet and Delaware’s legislators that we need a long-term and sustainable solution to the over $100 million annual deficit we have in clean water funding. As this legislative session comes to a close and many of Delaware’s legislators gear up for election season, it is imperative we ensure our decision makers and candidates running for office recognize clean water as a cornerstone issue that garners votes. As our legislators return from Dover while on break, it is imperative we call, write and email them to ensure they know clean water funding will remain a priority issue for many Delawarean’s in the next legislative session.
The funding we’ve received for FY2019 is a step in the right direction and we’re building momentum. We look forward to continuing this great work with you, our Water Warriors, to secure the dedicated and sustainable funding we need to address Delaware’s water quality problems.
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Have questions or want to get involved? Contact us here and we’ll be in touch!