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New Jersey Falls Short in Funding the Delaware River Basin Commission

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In the just-released New Jersey 2020 fiscal year budget, funding fell $200,000 short for the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), a four-state agency charged with overseeing water quality and quantity of the Delaware River Basin. In response, the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, a network of over 140 nonprofits located within the four states of the Basin (NY, NJ, PA, DE) have prepared the following statement:

“The Delaware River Basin Commission continues to face significant budget gaps, though we rely on them to ensure the future of the Delaware River. We are discouraged by the New Jersey’s decision to not fund the Delaware River Basin Commission at the full share level of $893,000. The Basin provides 1.9 million New Jerseyans with water for drinking, washing, and farming; and takes up about forty-percent of the state’s land area, making it a critical resource that must be invested in,” says Sandra Meola, Director of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed. “Since 2014, New Jersey has not met the funding needs of the Delaware River Basin Commission, impacting the commission’s ability to hire staff, conduct monitoring, and move forward research that our water resources rely on. All four basin states and the federal government must contribute their agreed upon funding in order to support the Commission’s clean water programs, research, and protections.”

Under an agreement reached in 1988, the annual contribution of each state to the DRBC should be: New Jersey $893,000 (25%), Delaware $447,000 (12.5%), New York $626,000 (17.5%), Pennsylvania $893,000 (25%) and the United States $715,000 (20%).

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Organizations Unite Across State Lines for Day of Action that Urges Governors to Prioritize the Delaware River Basin

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On November 27th  the Coalition for the Delaware River WatershedNew Jersey Audubon, and New Jersey League of Conservation Voters delivered 2,760 petition signatures to Governor Phil Murphy as part of National Wildlife Federation’s “4 the Delaware” campaign

The state’s First Lady, Tammy Murphy, accepted the petition signatures and received a briefing on the “4 the Delaware” campaign from the delivering organizations.

The delivery to Governor Murphy is one of three actions taking place across the Delaware River Basin on November 27th and 28th. Governor Murphy (NJ), Governor Cuomo (NY), and Governor Wolf (PA) will all receive in-person petition deliveries, with a total of 8,129 petition signatures delivered throughout the basin.

“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.

While the Delaware River Basin is a vital resource, it faces threats such as over development, storm water runoff, flooding, stream erosion, and loss of wildlife habitat. That’s why the “4 the Delaware” campaign is urging the Governors of the Delaware River Basin states to come together to create a new vision, prioritize resources, and further basin-wide planning by attending an in-person summit in early 2019.

The Governors are being asked to pledge to work together and to share the responsibility of furthering progress throughout the basin.

“Thousands of voters are encouraging Governor Murphy and the other Delaware River Basin governors to come together for a summit early next year to plan for the future of the Delaware River Basin’s drinking water, wildlife, and economy,” stated Ed Potosnak, Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “The Delaware River Basin encompasses portions of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New York, and supplies over 15 million people with drinking water, which is 5% of the U.S. population – including the cities of Phillipsburg, Trenton, Burlington, and Camden. That’s why it’s so important this critical source of drinking water is protected.”

The Delaware River Basin also provides essential habitat for birds, mammals, and over 200 resident and migrant fish species. Several threatened or endangered species call the basin home, such as the Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon and the dwarf wedgemussel.

Additionally, New Jersey’s economy depends on the Delaware River Basin, as 62,349 New Jersey jobs are directly supported by the basin, such as fishing, recreation, tourism, water/sewer construction, water utilities, and ports, and they earn $1.3 billion in wages annually.

“The Delaware River Basin is an essential resource for New Jersey’s residents and wildlife, as the basin covers more than forty percent of the state’s land area and encompasses twenty-two percent of the population,” added Eric Stiles, President and CEO of New Jersey Audubon. “We’re grateful for Governor Murphy’s leadership in protecting the Delaware River Basin and for his commitment to working with fellow governors across the basin.”