Clean water bill advances in General Assembly
The Delaware House passed the Clean Water for Delaware Act, which aims to increase spending on water infrastructure in the First State.
The legislation creates the framework to invest millions of dollars to rebuild Delaware’s drinking water infrastructure, prevent flooding in vulnerable communities, and keep contamination out of the state’s waterways.
It would establish a Clean Water Trust account and increase funding to address water issues in low-income and underserved communities.
The bill also requires a comprehensive clean water report and strategic plan ensuring priority projects are addressed in a timely manner.
House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear) sponsored the bill, and says the $50 million Gov. Carney (D) earmarked for the clean water fund in his recommended budget needs to be built on.
"It doesn't stop at the $50 million. Every year the bond bill should look at this fund and make sure that it is fully funded. Every year, even though it's not appropriated in this bill, we must continue to keep funding it after the $50 million," said Longhurst. "I just want to make sure that people that sit on the Bond Bill, and all of us that are in this room, we continue the fight to keep the clean water. It's not going to be fixed with the $50 million."
State Rep. Ron Gray (R-Selbyville) is pleased with some additions to the legislation, but says one thing is still missing.
"Agricultural and conservation call share, cover crops, conservation reserve enhancement, and tax ditches that you brought out. These are important things for clean water; they were not in the bill already. So I appreciate you bringing these forward," said Gray. "One thing has been left out is dredging."
Gray notes he will go to the Bond Bill committee to get funding for dredging for inland bays and canals.
Longhurst notes this bill will create 70,000 jobs and contribute up to $7 billion to Delaware's regional economy.
The measure now heads to the state Senate.