Rally Attendees in Front of Leg Hall

Delaware’s Waters Get Cleaner in 2019 Thanks to You!

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 waterNot 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:

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.

Want more updates like these? Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to get the latest on the campaign and all things related to clean water in Delaware!

 Have questions or want to get involved? Contact us here and we’ll be in touch!

The Complicated Process of Delaware’s Budget and Why It’s So Important to Our Water Quality

Figuring out your household budget can be a trying process (at least, I think it is)! Figuring out a budget for the entire state – well that’s just complicated and lengthy. You might be wondering who comes up with our state’s budget each year, how you can get involved in the process, and why it means so much to Delaware’s water quality. Read on to get these answers and more!

How Does Our Legislature Decide How We Spend Money on Clean Water Capital Improvements?

In Delaware, when the governor gives his budget address in January, he kicks off a 5 month process that includes reviews by two legislative committees: The Joint Finance Committee (which reviews operating funds) and the Joint Capital Improvement Committee, commonly called the “Bond Bill Committee,” (which reviews funds for capital improvements).

This year, Governor Carney presented a budget that includes $10 million for open space preservation; $10 million for farmland preservation; and $6 million for clean water investments. This funding is critical to our water quality. But, that doesn’t mean it will make the “final cut!”

The Bond Bill Committee, made up of 6 State Senators and 6 State Representatives, appropriates funds for major and minor state-funded capital improvements. Throughout mid-May, the committee holds public hearings with each state department and state agency to review its financial needs. They weigh these needs and ultimately work towards creating a fiscally-sound budget that addresses our state’s biggest capital improvement issues. During this process, the committee will study the proposed open space preservation funding, farmland preservation funding and clean water funding. It will decide if the proposed appropriations should remain funded as the Governor suggests, be re-appropriated to another more pressing issue, or diminished to plug a hole elsewhere.  Then, the committee ultimately presents a final budget to the full legislature for a vote at the end of June.

It is imperative the Bond Bill Committee hears from you and knows this funding is essential to our environment, economy and health! Delaware’s water quality is one of the biggest issues facing our state; but also an issue where capital improvements can make a HUGE difference to so many facets of our everyday lives.

How can you help?

As a Water Warrior, we are asking you to participate and offer comment during this Bond Bill process.

There are a number of ways you can do this!

  1. Attend the Bond Bill Committee’s May 17, 9:30am public hearing in Dover: This is the scheduled hearing for all capital improvements related to Delaware’s natural resources, including open space preservation, farmland preservation and clean water funding. We encourage you not only to attend, but to provide brief (limited to 2 minutes) testimony on why this funding is important. For talking points, click here. For a full schedule of the Bond Bill’s scheduled hearings, click here.

 

  1. Write a letter to the editor to your local newspaper in support of this funding. Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to draft and submit a letter!

 

  1. Write a letter or email to the members of the Bond Bill Committee asking them to support open space, farmland preservation and clean water funding. We’ve provided talking points and the email addresses for each committee member here!

 

  1. Show your support on social media! Use this link to find sample social media posts and images for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

  1. Attend our Clean Water Rally on June 5! From 10:30am-12:30pm we’ll be outside Legislative Hall with hundreds of Water Warriors showing support for clean water funding. Then, we’ll head inside Legislative Hall in the afternoon to meet with decision makers and encourage them to support full funding for open space preservation, farmland preservation and clean water. The rally is more important than ever this year as the Bond Bill Committee must wait until June 20, when the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council (DFAC) provides final revenue projections, to draft its final budget package! Registration is open now!

 

With the introduction of the Clean Water for Delaware Act (HB270), we’ve opened up the conversation for a need of long-term, sustainable funding for clean water projects. But, with the bill being tabled while legislators study potential funding mechanisms to create a clean water fund, $10 million for open space preservation, $10 million for farmland preservation and $6 million for clean water funding is critical to improving the Delawareans’ health, economy, and environment. Join us in our fight!

Want more updates like these? Be sure to sign up for our newsletterto get the latest on the campaign and all things related to clean water in Delaware!

Brenna Goggin is the Director of Advocacy for Delaware Nature Society.

Man typing on laptop

Writing a Letter to the Editor in Support of Clean Water Funding in the Bond Bill

One way to show support for clean water funding and the clean water investments Governor Carney proposed in his FY2019 budget is to let the public know how you feel! We encourage our Water Warriors to submit letters to the editor to local newspapers. These letters will help educate fellow residents and bring attention to the importance of clean water.

If you have any questions about the below basics on writing a letter to the editor, contact us, and we can help!

Here’s a few basic rules for crafting a letter to the editor:

  1. Most newspapers have maximum word counts for letter submissions. Keep your letter around 200-250 words.
  2. Be concise and focused; and be sure to stay on message.
  3. Double check spelling and grammar.
  4. Keep your message timely. If a local newspaper recently published a story about flooding in your town, that would be a great time to submit a letter to the editor as a response to the story and discuss why clean water funding is important to flood reduction.
  5. Always include a name, phone number and email address at the end of your letter. Don’t worry, it won’t get published! Newspapers will likely follow up with an email or phone call to verify identity and confirm submission of the letter.

And some basic talking points:

  1. Share your personal story. Do you support funding for clean water because your house floods? Or you love to fish? Talk about what connects you with water!
  2. Clearly state support for the $6 million for clean water; $10 million for open space; and $10 million for farmland preservation that Governor Carney proposed in his FY2019 budget – and state your hope that the legislature includes these appropriations in their final Bond Bill.
  3. Refer to (and feel free to include any of) our talking points on the FY2019 budget proposal for more detail on the Bond Bill process and why the proposed clean water funding is so important to Delaware.

How to Submit a Letter to the Editor

These days, most letters are submitted electronically via email. The letter should be submitted within the body of the email (as opposed to an attachment) unless otherwise noted by the news outlet. If your letter is not published within a few weeks of submission, it’s ok to call the new outlet’s newsroom and inquire about the submission to ensure receipt of the letter.

Where to Submit the Letter to the Editor

When sending a letter, please use the corresponding email address listed for each publication you’d like to submit your letter to.

New Castle County
Delaware Online/ The News Journal: letters@delawareonline.com
Newark Post: letters@newarkpostonline.com

Kent County
Delaware State News: newsroom@newszap.com
Milford Chronicle and Harrington Journal: mc@newszap.com

Sussex County
The Cape Gazette: newsroom@capegazette.com
The Coastal Point: darin.mccann@coastalpoint.com
Delmarva Now/ The Daily Times/Delaware Coast Press/ The Delaware Wave: opinions@delmarvanow.com
Milford Chronicle: mc@newszap.com
Sussex County Post: Complete this form – https://sussexcountypost.com/letter-to-the-editor/

 

Writing a Letter to the Editor

 

One way to show support for clean water funding and legislation like HB270 is to let the public know how you feel! We encourage our Water Warriors to submit letters to the editor to local newspapers. These letters will help educate fellow residents and bring attention to the importance of clean water.

If you have any questions about the below basics on writing a letter to the editor, contact us, and we can help!

Here’s a few basic rules for crafting a letter to the editor:

  1. Most newspapers have maximum word counts for letter submissions. Keep your letter around 200-250 words.
  2. Be concise and focused; and be sure to stay on message. It’s ok if it takes a few drafts to really drill down your message.
  3. Double and triple check spelling and grammar in the letter.
  4. Be sure to include your personal reason for caring about clean water. Maybe it’s flooding, concerns over drinking water, or wanting to fish in your nearby waterway.
  5. Keep your message timely. If a local newspaper recently published a story about flooding in your town, that would be a great time to submit a letter to the editor as a response to the story and discuss why clean water funding is important to flood reduction. In the media world, anything longer than a few days is “old news.”
  6. Always include a name, phone number and email address at the end of your letter. Newspapers will follow up with an email or phone call to verify identity and confirm submission of the letter.

And some basic talking points:

  1. Share your personal story. Do you support funding for clean water because your house floods? Or you love to fish? Talk about what connects you with water!
  2. Clearly state support for additional, dedicated, clean water funding in Delaware. Feel free to specifically notate support for HB270.
  3. Mention that clean water is essential and critical to the environment, public health and economy here in Delaware.

How to Submit a Letter to the Editor

These days, most letters are submitted electronically via email. The letter should be submitted within the body of the email (as opposed to an attachment) unless otherwise noted by the news outlet. If your letter is not published within a few weeks of submission, it’s ok to call the new outlet’s newsroom and inquire about the submission to ensure receipt of the letter.

Where to Submit the Letter to the Editor

When sending a letter, please use the corresponding email address listed for each publication you’d like to submit your letter to.

New Castle County
Delaware Online/ The News Journal: letters@delawareonline.com

Kent County
Delaware State News: newsroom@newszap.com

Sussex County
The Cape Gazette: newsroom@capegazette.com
The Coastal Point: darin.mccann@coastalpoint.com
Delmarva Now/ The Daily Times/Delaware Coast Press/ The Delaware Wave: opinions@delmarvanow.com
Milford Chronicle: mc@newszap.com

Member Spotlight: The Clean Water Rally’s Ocean Sponsor, Speakman

On June 6 2017, hundreds of clean water advocates rallied in Dover to celebratethe release of the Clan Water and Flood Abatement Task Force report and urge decision makers to support additional dedicated funding for water quality and flood abatement projects in Delaware. Our rally was a success thanks to ourattendees, exhibitors and sponsors. Here, we’re learning a bit more about the rally’s presenting “Ocean Sponsor,” Speakman!

In 1869, brothers Allen and Joseph Speakman opened a modest plumbing workshop in downtown Wilmington, Delaware. With a pioneering spirit and an unwavering dedication to craft, the brothers would design the world’s first adjustable shower head, as well as a full assortment of hospitality, commercial, emergency, and home plumbing products.

A lot has changed since then, but Speakman’s passion for quality and performance has remained the same. Family-owned and operated for nearly 150 years, Speakman’s team has remained small by design to focus on what they do best. From solid brass shower heads to reliable emergency equipment, each fixture has been meticulously engineered to deliver the greatest experience imaginable.

And that experience extends well into their water-saving fixtures. Over the past few years, Speakman engineers began developing revolutionary low flow shower heads that would save water without sacrificing an ounce of performance.

The Speakman Reaction Shower Head, which features a patented turbine-powered engine, infuses energy and velocity into each spray. The result is a powerful, pulsating sensation that uses at least 20% less water and outperforms competitor models in both force and thermal retention.

Additionally, Speakman introduced their new Echo Low Flow Shower Head, which features 3 unique spray settings to deliver a versatile, satisfying shower experience while saving water at the same time.

To further raise awareness for water conservation not only nationally but regionally as well, Speakman began partnering with local organizations up and down Delaware. For the 2nd year in a row, Speakman will be the lead sponsor of the Dogfish Dash, an 8k race thrown by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery to benefit local conservation efforts. Each year, Speakman also donates over 400 low flow shower heads to the Firefly Music Festival to deliver sustainable, powerful showers to concert goers. And in 2017, Speakman was thrilled to join the Clean Water Alliance, a coalition to improve the quality of Delaware’s water.

“Water is everything to us,” says Robert Knoll, President and CEO of Speakman. “It influences every decision we make as a company. And we believe it’s so important to not only use water responsibly, but also ensure we preserve and protect it as well.”

Today, Speakman showers and faucets are enjoyed daily in households and preferred by guests in luxury hotel and resorts such as Wynn and Marriott. Speakman emergency showers and eyewashes, as well as commercial faucets and valves are specified in facilities ranging from hospitality and healthcare to manufacturing and education. In addition, Speakman can be found on Amazon, Ferguson, Grainger, HD Supply, Home Depot and Lowes. To learn more about Speakman, visit www.speakman.com.

Advocating for Clean Water: It Takes Teamwork!

A reflection of our most recent Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C.

In early April, a number of our Clean Water Alliance Members had the opportunity to participate in a “Clean Water Advocacy Day” in Washington D.C.  The day, held in conjunction with the Choose Clean Water Coalition and the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed’s Advocacy Day, was focused on urging our Congressional Delegation to fight for the much-needed federal programs that help improve Delaware’s water quality and lessen the impact of flooding.

Attendees included representatives from Delaware Nature Society, the Mid-Atlantic Youth Anglers Association, Christina Navy, Brandywine Red Clay Alliance and the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays.

Attendees met with Senator Tom Carper and his staff as well as staff from Senator Chris Coons’ and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester’s offices. Some of our attendees have been to meeting on The Hill before, while this was a new experience for others.

As we headed home, we had a chance to reflect on the experience with some of our attendees, including:

Chris Bason, Executive Director, Delaware Center for the Inland Bays (CB)
John Williams, Founder, Christina Navy (JW)
Todd Pride, Lead Coach, Mid-Atlantic Youth Anglers and Outdoors Program (TP)

 

Q: Why did you attend Advocacy Day?

 TP: Clean and healthy water is essential to the success of hunting and fishing activities. Delaware is at the “apex” of the Mid-Atlantic region’s Delaware River and Chesapeake Bay watersheds, which is critical to the health and economic vitality of the region.  It was important to me that our elected officials see the passion and experiences the fishing and hunting communities have for clean water.

JW: Rowing on dirty water in Wilmington for 27 years, I like the idea that green infrastructure projects can improve Wilmington and turn it into a “green” place where people want to work and live — an Emerald City! I think it’s important our officials make this connection.

CB: Ultimately, I’ve dedicated my career to protecting the water and natural lands in Delaware. When I heard about this opportunity from Delaware Nature Society, I couldn’t turn it down!

Q: After the day wrapped up, what were your thoughts on the experience?

 CB: I was impressed by the enthusiasm demonstrated by the advocates and Congressional Offices, particularly that of Senator Carper.  In the face of adversity, a variety of people that have a deep connection and interest in clean water spoke in a very positive way about why continued progress on clean water will happen.

JW: It was great to have so many different perspectives on clean water speaking with our congressional team. We all need water to live and we all will benefit from clean water. The message really “sunk in.”

TP: What was most impressive to me was the broad level of support for our region’s (and country’s) clean water programs. I was also impressed by support from and for our area’s agriculture industry.

Q: Did you feel the folks we met with were approachable and willing to tackle the issue? Would you recommend other Delawareans meet with their elected officials?

CB: The staff is always approachable and they listen.  That is their job, but I feel like many people don’t realize that or they have a hard time trusting that.  The staff have to ensure that everyone who wants to be heard is, so meetings or phone calls are often quick.  But I always encourage people that any opinion or information they have matters a great deal and the Congressional Offices have a strong interest in hearing it.

JW: Everyone was very pleasant and receptive. I could feel their genuine shared concern for our cause. They also had suggestions for how to approach others with differing opinions to help pass needed clean water legislation. 

Q: What was the top thing you walked away with from the day?

JW: I really enjoyed meeting the members of the “clean water team” from Delaware. We are not only advocating for our organizations, but also making cross-connections to stand united with a strong message.

TP: My biggest takeaway was the incredible teamwork and leadership displayed by so many interests. We came out of this day with some new relationships and have already started working with some of the participants we met to further mobilize the support from the hunting and fishing communities.

Delaware Master Gardeners take part in Water Warrior workshop

Water Warrior Attendee Group ShotThe following is part of our “Member Spotlight” series. The Clean Water Campaign periodically highlights the work our Clean Water Alliance Members do to support our mission of securing additional funding for clean water initiatives. 

Delaware Master Gardeners take part in Water Warrior workshop

 

University of Delaware Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardeners spent two days in February learning about the importance of clean water to the state’s environment and economy.

Participants explored simple, low-cost tips for protecting and improving local water quality in their backyards and community and engaging on topics such as green infrastructure as part of a Water Warrior citizen advocacy workshop.

The workshop featured presenters from UD, the Delaware Nature Society (DNS), the Delaware Water Resources Center (DWRC) and the Brandywine Red Clay Alliance, and was affiliated with the Clean Water: Delaware’s Clear Choice campaign, a statewide education and outreach effort led by DNS and focused on clean water.

Many of the presenters were also part of the Clean Water Alliance, a group of diverse stakeholders that supports the Clean Water Campaign and the Water Warrior workshops.

Carrie Murphy, extension agent and the lawn and garden program leader, said that a representative from DNS approached her about holding the training for Master Gardeners, saying it was a natural fit as the gardeners already get a baseline of training on how to help homeowners with water problems.

“There are bigger efforts in neighborhoods to manage the water but then on your own property, and in your landscape, there are slight modifications you can make, for example reducing lawn, planting more native plants, considering a rain garden if appropriate, to more effectively manage water. This has been our focus but we’ve never had extensive training to connect these suggestions to the bigger picture, so this was a great opportunity to do this,” said Murphy.

The first day of the workshop focused on sustainable landscaping, specifically how gardens relate to water management, and highlighted some of the challenges in New Castle County with regard to water management and how Master Gardeners can help people troubleshoot those issues.

Sue Barton, associate professor and extension specialist in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, presented on sustainable landscaping practices, such as bioswales, a landscaping element designed to concentrate or remove pollution from surface water runoff, and native plants that are appropriate for rain gardens.

A DNS representative gave an overview of the Clean Water Alliance and a presentation on “Water Warrior 101: Citizen’s Guide to Clean Water.”

Individual contributions to clean water

There are a number of ways that individuals can help contribute to clean water through individual practices, which is the focus of Water Warrior training. Gardeners, in particular, have a unique relationship with water and can have an immediate impact based on the individual practices that they utilize.

The second day included presentations on the value of watersheds and water in Delaware from Martha Narvaez, a policy scientist at the DWRC, located in UD’s Institute for Public Administration, and an overview of water restoration in the Brandywine-Red Clay Valley from Ellen Kohler of the Brandywine Red Clay Alliance.

The DWRC is on the Clean Water Alliance steering committee and Narvaez said they have been working with DNS on their campaign, trying to attract new alliance members and sharing information about the importance of clean water.

They have also been educating the public on their role in water quality, their impacts on water and the need for clean water.

“We conducted an economic analysis on Delaware’s watersheds in 2012 and, using three different methods, we found watersheds contribute anywhere from $2-6.7 billion annually to the state’s economy. We felt that quantifying [this number] was important so that we could give people a better understanding of why protecting water is important,” said Narvaez.

One of the biggest challenges in protecting water in Delaware and throughout the country is that water crosses state lines, so while Delawareans can address the pollution once it reaches the state, it is increasingly difficult to address the pollution at out-of-state sources.

“How do you address pollution in other states when you really have no regulatory authority to do that? That’s one of the challenges with water. People have different uses downstream and you may not have control of the sources upstream so you need to work to have innovative ways to incentivize people upstream to clean up the water so the people downstream are getting clean water,” said Narvaez.

As far as working with the Master Gardeners, Narvaez said she was happy to participate in the event and share the research DWRC has conducted on the importance of water resources.

“I think the Master Gardeners are a perfect group to carry that through because they are the people on the ground talking to home owners and really connecting with the public and I think they can connect in a way that a lot of us can’t and so I was really happy to be able to participate,” said Narvaez.

Those interested in becoming Master Gardeners or learning about Master Gardener services can call 302-831-COOP or visit the Cooperative Extension website.

Those interested in learning more about the Clean Water Alliance or hosting a Water Warrior training, can contact Brenna Goggin, director of advocacy at DNS, at 302-239-2334 ext. 132 or e-mail brenna@delawarenaturesociety.org.

This blog post is a reprint of an article published in UDaily on 3/13/17