In 2019 and 2020 House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst led the charge to secure clean water funding as the prime sponsor of the Clean Water for Delaware Act (House Bill 200, or HB200). We’re honored to have her support once again as our Clean Water Warriors begin organizing to fight for clean water in the upcoming General Assembly. The Clean Water Campaign recently had a chance to connect with Representative Longhurst to hear her thoughts about clean water – and what we can expect in the coming legislative session.
What inspired you to become a champion on clean water issues?
I’ve always had an interest in the environment and protecting our natural resources, but I really became involved in the clean water effort once it clicked for me just how connected the issue of clean water is to so many other issues across the state.
Whether it’s water and wastewater infrastructure to support smart development in New Castle County, the needs of our agricultural industry downstate, the challenges our coastal communities face with flooding and sea level rise, or the inequities in our underserved communities statewide, so much falls under the banner of clean water in Delaware.
When will the Clean Water Legislation (successor to HB200) be introduced?
We’re planning to file the latest version of our legislation this spring.
What do you see as the biggest roadblocks to success?
The biggest challenge is and always has been funding. We need a meaningful sum to jumpstart the plan and a sustainable source of funding for the future.
We also know there are other interest groups out there who don’t necessarily share our vision for clean water in Delaware, and we’re going to keep confronting them on this issue, having those discussions and educating them.
How has the pandemic affected access to clean water/funding opportunities for clean water?
We don’t yet know how great a toll the pandemic has taken on state and local revenues, but that is certainly a big concern. With so many people working from home, I think there’s also an impact on residential water and wastewater infrastructure that we don’t know the full scope of yet.
On the other hand, I think outdoor recreation has become a bigger part of many Delawareans’ lives during the pandemic, and hopefully that has led to a greater awareness and appreciation of our natural landscapes and the need to safeguard them.
What can the Water Warriors do to support the new legislation and funding proposal?
Keep in contact with legislators from both sides of the aisle and make sure they hear you, especially the ones who represent you and your community. Share your personal stories about how water quality impacts your family. Stay engaged, spread the message to as many of your friends and neighbors as you can. You’ve made great strides in bringing the issue of clean water to the forefront — keep up the good work!
Are you ready to join House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, the Clean Water Campaign, and our coalition partners? Take action today by clicking here!
House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst’s Legislative Service
Valerie J. Longhurst was first elected to the Delaware House of Representatives in November 2004 to represent the 15th District. The district consists of 20,000 people living in Bear, Delaware City and St. Georges. In 2008, she was elected as the House Majority Whip and served for four years. After the 2012 election, her caucus elected her House Majority Leader. Representative Longhurst is currently chair of the House Administration, Ethics and Rules committees. She also serves on the Telecommunications Internet and Technology committee and is the former chair of the Manufactured Housing Committee.