Have you heard the news? House Substitute 1 for House Bill 200 (HS1 for HB200) was unveiled by Governor John Carney, House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst and Senate President Pro Tempore David McBride in late January. Yep, that’s a mouthful, but the bottom line is this:
HS1 for HB200 is the Clean Water for Delaware Act. It will create a Clean Water Trust Fund to address Delaware’s most pressing clean water and waterway projects.
So, where does the dedicated funding in the Trust account come from? Great question, since HS1 for HB200 doesn’t actually provide any funding.
Governor Carney proposed an initial investment of $50 million in a Clean Water Trust Fund in his Fiscal Year 2021 (FY2021) Bond Bill. The initial funding could leverage millions more in federal funding.
What can be funded by the Clean Water Trust? Funding will go towards:
- Improving flood resiliency and drainage in our most flood-prone communities
- Repairing failing sewer pipes and septic systems
- Improving drinking water quality & expanding access to safe drinking water
- Removing decades-old pollution from our waterways
- Conservation funding for Delaware’s agriculture community
- Low-interest loans and grants for low-income and underserved communities
How will projects be chosen? Do we all get money whenever we want it? The bill will create a seven-member cabinet-level and state legislator committee composed of the secretaries of the Departments of Natural Resources and Environmental Control; Health and Social Services; Finance; Agriculture and Transportation; as well as the two co-chairs of the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Capital Improvement (also called the Bond Bill Committee). The Clean Water Trust Oversight Committee will be required to submit an annual report on the Clean Water Trust funding. They will create a strategic plan containing:
- A list of goals for the Trust
- Projects ranked in terms of importance
- Recommendations on how to help low-income and underserved communities
- Challenges facing water quality
- Drinking water priorities
- A global strategy for clean water including water infrastructure investments beyond what is funded by the Trust account (such as beach replenishment)
Wait, but then what happens to the Water Infrastructure Advisory Council (WIAC)? You really do know your water! Currently, WIAC (pronounced “wee-ack”) provides guidance to leaders throughout the state on project proposals for drinking water and wastewater facilities, funding programs related to drainage, stormwater management and flood control, and watershed-based plans for surface water management. WIAC is not going anywhere. If HS1 to HB200 passes, they would provide such guidance to the Clean Water Trust Oversight Committee.
But what happens when that money runs out? Exciting news, clean water fans! It technically shouldn’t run out. The money in the Clean Water Trust account will be going into state revolving Funds, which are replenished year after year by interest from project loans.
This all seems great, right? Are you wondering how to make this a reality? There are two big steps to ensuring this becomes reality:
- The Clean Water for Delaware Act (HS1 for HB200) needs to become law. First, the bill must pass the House, then the Senate, then head to the Governor’s desk for signature. Follow our social media and sign up for our newsletter to learn as we pass each milestone.
- The Governor’s recommended Bond Bill is just that: a recommendation! The initial investment of $50 million for clean water must be approved by the Bond Bill Committee and passed by the General Assembly. It must be debated and signed like any other piece of legislation.
Great news Water Warriors! You can advocate for this innovative plan for clean water funding! There are three things you can do to help ensure the Clean Water Trust becomes a reality this year, and for years to come.
- Contact your legislators and let them know you support HS1 for HB200. If you don’t know your legislators, visit the DE Department of Elections website , enter your name and birthday for your voter registration information. Click on “Districts” and you will see who represents you in the State House and Senate.
- Reach out to Delaware’s Bond Bill Committee and tell each member that you want to see the full $50 million earmarked for the Clean Water Trust to be included in the final budget proposal.
- Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and sign up for our newsletter to get up-to-date information and action alerts to learn more about how you can advocate for clean water funding!
Questions about this? Reach a member of our Clean Water Campaign team at any time using our “Contact Us” page!