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Underserved communities will be prioritized for clean water projects, says DNREC secretary

Roman Battaglia
Delaware Public Media

One of the biggest clean water initiatives in state history was signed by Gov. John Carney this week.


The Clean Water for Delaware Act strengthens the frameworks to identify and fix various water quality issues — the funding could go towards upgrading a development’s drinking water supply or ensuring the lakes and ocean’s many people enjoy are clean and safe to swim in.


DNREC secretary Shawn Garvin says a big improvement from previous efforts is bringing together more stakeholders, such as transportation and agriculture leaders.


“Everybody’s kinda been in their own silo,” Garvin says. “And so this organizes us in a way which really keeps us in a position where we’re always thinking about leveraging, we’re always thinking about the communities and environmental justice. It really takes a big step moving forward.”


Joanne McGeoch is the interim director of the Delaware Nature Society.


“Seeing this bill get passed today is historic for many reasons — not only for today and and the investments that the governor is put forth towards the clean water funds, but also for future generations cause this is gonna establish a fund that maintains in the future going forward to always ensure infrastructure for clean water is a priority,” McGeoch says.


Garvin also announced a new initiative to address clear water issues in underserved communities.


That program will leverage these new state funds and federal funding to improve water systems for communities who have not been able to afford to take out loans in the past.


Garvin says those communities have always been the hardest to help, and this initiative coupled with the new state funding will assist with that.


Now that the clean water bill is signed, the committee will begin meeting and building out a priority list of clean water projects to focus funding towards.


Roman Battaglia is a corps member withReport for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.


This story has been updated to correct a name misspelling

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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