Policy Update Jul 22, 2015

Position on H.R. 1772, the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act

NPCA supports H.R. 1772, the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act of 2015 (DRBCA), which was heard by the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans on July 23, 2015.

The Delaware River Basin is home to nationally significant assets including more than 400 miles of National Wild and Scenic Rivers and one of the country’s most visited national parks sites, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Sixteen million people rely on the Delaware River for drinking water, and it is the only watershed in the country that supplies drinking water to two of the largest cities, New York City and Philadelphia.

H.R. 1772 authorizes a new program, the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which will spur collective conservation strategy from the basin’s headwaters in New York to the Delaware Bay. The program would provide a coordinated, non-regulatory approach to identify, prioritize, and implement restoration and protection activities across the Delaware River Basin. These activities would improve water quality and habitat and provide benefits to communities and national park sites. H.R. 1772 authorizes $5 million per year for a competitive grant and technical assistance program that supports on-the-ground work by state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, and universities and enhances efficiency and effectiveness of public and private efforts.

The Delaware River Basin is an economic generator for its surrounding communities— it contributes approximately $25 billion annually in economic activity and $21 billion in ecosystem goods and services and supports an internationally renowned cold water fishery that generates over $21 million in annual revenue through tourism and recreational activities. Ensuring its protection and restoration is a national priority similar to efforts in the Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes, and Everglades.