Lawmakers reflect on 60 years of protecting the Delaware River Basin
The Delaware River Basin Commission celebrates 60 years of interstate collaboration to protect over 300 miles of watershed.
The Kalmar Nyckel docks regularly in both New Castle and Wilmington, serving as a historical landmark and an educational tool. The ship uses the Delaware River often, teaching adults and children about the importance this river plays in the lives of millions.
Lauren Morgans has captained the ship for over 15 years, and says education has been a big factor in the push towards protecting the waters her crew sails in.
“People will protect what they love, and they love what they know. And so, if people don’t have the opportunity to access a river, to learn about a river, to recreate on a river, then it just becomes a place where you pour your sewage basically,” said Morgans.
State and federal lawmakers joined Morgans on the Kalmar Nyckel to both learn about it’s history, and learn what the DRBC is doing to clean up the watershed.
DRBC executive director Steve Tambini says monitoring all changes to the river is tantamount to driving actions that protect the water -- and the wildlife that live there.
“But I continue to ask yourselves over and over again, measure results — cause we do at the DRBC. We measured dissolved oxygen and we say, has it improved? We measure that we can control the salt front by releasing fresh water and can we maintain the salt front where it is. We measure whether or not fish are continuing to migrate,” said Tambini.
Tambini says his commission has been very successful in protecting the watershed, and they’ve seen birds and fish return to the Delaware that left decades ago because of pollution.
A big focus now is the effects of climate change and sea level rise. Issues like the ocean water pushing farther upstream have been controlled before, but climate change could cause them to re-surface.
Lawmakers add that’s why further investment into clean water programs, like Delaware’s new Clean Water Act, are needed — along with educating more people about the importance of the river to not only the wildlife, but to the billions of dollars in economic value it generates.
Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.