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Groups unite in plea for Delaware Basin


Harrisburg: PennFuture, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, Coalition for the Delaware River, Audubon Pennsylvania, Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership and the Brodhead Chapter of Trout Unlimited delivered 4,038 signatures on a petition to Gov. Tom Wolf as part of National Wildlife Federation’s “4 the Delaware” campaign.

The campaign urges the governors of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Delaware to create a new vision, prioritize resources, and further watershedwide planning for the Delaware River Basin by attending a summit in 2019 with all four governors.

The petition delivery to Gov. Wolf was one of three actions taking place across the basin on Nov. 27 and 28. Wolf, Gov. Phil Murphy (N.J.), and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (N.Y.) all received in-person petition deliveries and a total of 8,129 petition signatures were delivered throughout the basin.

“People across the state are taking action on behalf of the Delaware River basin, and this is another chance for citizens to take action for clean water,” stated Jacquelyn Bonomo, president and CEO of PennFuture. “We thank Gov. Wolf for protecting Pennsylvania’s parks and streams, while making the Delaware a priority. This petition urges him to take the next step and stand with our neighboring states to protect the Delaware River basin so that families, towns, businesses, and wildlife that depend on it can thrive.”

The basin encompasses portions of Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York and New Jersey, and supplies over 15 million people with drinking water, which is 5 percent of the U.S. population – including the cities of Philadelphia, New York City, Trenton and Wilmington. In Pennsylvania, the basin stretches from the Pocono Mountains down to Philadelphia, occupying 14 percent of Pennsylvania’s land area and includes 43 percent of the state’s population.

While the basin is a vital resource, it faces threats such as overdevelopment, stormwater runoff, flooding, stream erosion, and wildlife habitat loss.

The Delaware River Basin provides habitat for over 200 resident and migrant fish species, as well as birds, mammals, and other wildlife.

Several threatened or endangered species call the basin home as well, such as the Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon and the dwarf wedgemussel.

The basin generates $25 billion in annual economic activity and contributes $21 billion worth of ecosystem goods and services each year. The Delaware River Basin creates 130,364 jobs, such as fishing, recreation, tourism, water/sewer construction, water utilities, and ports, that generate $2.8 billion in wages.

According to the organizations that called on the governors, to date, there is strong interest from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware to meet for an in-person summit in early 2019 that will create a basinwide vision and long-term plan for management.