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Completion Of The "Water Resources Plan For The Delaware River Basin" Celebrated In Wilmington

For Immediate Release

September 13, 2004

(WILMINGTON, DEL.)  --  Elected and environmental leaders from Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and the federal government, along with other interested watershed stakeholders, met today at Dravo Plaza on Wilmington's Christina Riverfront to celebrate the completion of the Water Resources Plan for the Delaware River Basin.

"Today's event marks an important milestone that was initiated by a 1999 challenge from the governors of our four basin states along with the federal government to lay out a policy direction for the use, protection, and enhancement of the basin's water resources through the year 2030," Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) Executive Director Carol R. Collier said.

Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner was joined by DRBC Federal Representative Brigadier General Merdith W.B. Temple, Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell, and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Water Assistant Director Fred R. Nuffer in a ceremonial signing of a resolution supporting the implementation of the basin plan.

A number of federal agency representatives also participated by signing the resolution in affirmation of their agency's support of the basin plan. These participants included Jane M. Kenny, Region II Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Donald S. Welsh, Region III Administrator, EPA; Joe DiBello, Northeast Regional Partnership Programs Manager, National Park Service; Catherine L. Hill, Northeast Regional Hydrologist, U.S. Geological Survey; Marvin E. Moriarty, Region V Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and Anthony J. Kramer, N.J. State Conservationist and designated Regional Representative for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The basin plan is a 30-year, goal-based framework that will serve as a guide for all stakeholders -- government and non-governmental alike -- whose actions affect water resources in the 13,539-square-mile Delaware River Basin that drains portions of the four states. Nearly 15 million people (approximately five percent of the nation’s population) rely on the waters of the basin for drinking and industrial use.

A Watershed Advisory Council, whose members represent a broad spectrum of basin interests ranging from business and industry to environmental advocacy groups, worked closely with DRBC staff, the commission’s standing advisory committees, and ad hoc committees in the facilitated, consensus-building process used to forge the basin plan. Several public meetings were held throughout the basin since 2001 to gather input and broaden awareness of the plan beyond the valued group of stakeholders who participated most closely in its development over the past three years.

Support for enhancing public participation and regional cooperation in the development of the basin plan was generously provided by a grant from the William Penn Foundation.

The goal-based plan to guide policy and action includes five desired results:

  • An adequate and reliable supply of suitable quality water to sustain human and ecological needs through 2030;
  • Managing the system of waterway corridors to reduce flood losses, improve recreational experiences, and protect, conserve, and restore riparian and aquatic ecosystems;
  • Integrating water resource management considerations into land use planning and growth management while recognizing the social and economic needs of communities;
  • Strengthening partnerships for the management of water resources among all levels of government, the private sector, and individuals sharing an interest in sustainable water resources management; and
  • Providing opportunities to enhance appreciation and commitment to the protection, improvement, and restoration of the basin's water resources.

The plan is prefaced by a set of twelve guiding principles against which all policy decisions and actions affecting water resource management should be measured. It also suggests a set of goals and objectives with milestones and indicators to measure progress towards achieving the plan's desired results.

The basin plan emphasizes integration and collaboration, and is not prescriptive or regulatory.

"Today we celebrate a visionary plan that reflects the investment of countless hours of discussion and creativity among many individuals from throughout the Delaware River Basin who responded to our governors' 1999 challenge," Collier said. "However, much work lies ahead as we now strive to develop strategies and take action to realize the goals laid out in that plan over the next 30 years."

Also on hand to join the celebration was Benjamin H. Grumbles, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Water, who offered remarks about the two-and-a-half day conference, "Watershed Summit on the Delaware: Making the Connection," which followed the ceremonial signing event. The Sept. 13-15 conference, also held in Wilmington, will cover a wide range of environmental issues in the Delaware River Basin by encouraging communication, outreach, and partnerships. One panel session will discuss the basin plan and how it provides a framework for water resources management. The summit is being sponsored by the EPA and DRBC, with the support and assistance of a number of additional agencies and organizations.

The DRBC was formed in 1961 by compact among the four basin states and the federal government. Its members include the four governors and a federal representative appointed by the president. Commission programs include water quality protection, watershed planning, water supply allocation, regulatory review, water conservation initiatives, drought management, flood control, and recreation. The creation of the commission marked the first time in our nation's history that the federal government and a group of states joined together as equal partners in a river basin planning, development, and regulatory agency.

For more information about the basin plan, visit the DRBC's web site at www.drbc.net.

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Clarke Rupert, (609) 883-9500 ext. 260

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