WILMINGTON, Del. 4/4/2014
This morning at the DuPont Environmental Education Center Governor Jack Markell and DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara proposed Clean Water for Delaware’s Future, a plan for protecting public health and cleaning up Delaware’s bays, rivers, and streams within a generation, while creating jobs and strengthening Delaware’s economy.
DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara said, “This is a problem that affects our entire state.”
Most of Delaware’s waters do not meet water quality standards for drinking, swimming, and supporting fish and other aquatic wildlife. Problems span from water containing excess nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, to low dissolved oxygen, to toxics and bacteria. The state’s public health division recorded 28 drinking water violations last year that were mostly attributed to nitrate or bacteria. Advisories now caution against eating fish because of the high levels of chemical contaminants that are unsafe for consumption.
“Clean water is essential for a healthy and prosperous Delaware,” said Governor Markell. He mentioned examples of how the state has “made great strides reducing air pollution and cleaning up brownfield sites, yet nearly every waterway in Delaware, other than our beaches, remains unsafe for swimming and fishing and nearly every community is struggling with more frequent flooding and storms,” and described Clean Water for Delaware’s Future as an investment that will “bolster the economic revitalization of our cities and towns.”
Governor Markell said, “This is not just an environmental issue, it’s essential to our economy.”
Clean Water for Delaware’s Future focuses efforts on six areas in which to accelerate improvements to Delaware’s waterways by taking action right away. The plan is expected to support 5,000 jobs over the next five years. Innovative, cost effective ways to manage our storm and wastewater bring important economic benefits to our state. Delaware’s coastal economy alone provides Delaware with a multi-billion tourism revenue, so it is imperative that improving the health of our waters become top priority.
Delaware Nature Society Executive Director Brian Winslow said that this plan was an important step and described how Delaware Nature Society has been tracking the problems for a long time through its Stream Watch programs, which trains members of the community on how to monitor pollutants in water.
“We know where the problems are and we have the connections with community to work with them, our partner organizations, and the state to go to the next step,” said Brian Winslow.
Founded in 1964, Delaware Nature Society works to improve the environment through conservation, advocacy, and education.