Environmental activists and members of the public gathered on a rainy morning in front of Legislative Hall in Dover to rally for clean water quality in Delaware.
"Whether it be drinking water, whether its the water they kayak or canoe in, whether it’s the water they take their dogs swimming in, or that they swim in themselves, they’re here celebrating it today," said Brenna Goggin, advocacy manager of the Delaware Nature Society .
Yet, it’s hard to celebrate the current state of Delaware’s water quality, as 94 percent of the First State’s waterways are considered impaired for fishing and swimming. Harsh facts like these are one of the reasons why the Delaware Nature Society launched its clean water campaign in March, along with the Center for the Inland Bays and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary.
Over the last three months, they’ve been appealing to anyone who values water quality. So far, they’ve gained the support of 10,000 individuals and 15 organizations.
80 people from organizations including the Delaware Votes for Animals, Tidewater Utilities and residents from the town of Ellendale in Sussex County showed for the rally. Two state senators, David McBride and Brian Townsend, also attended and spoke at the event.
Several attendees at the clean water rally came from the town of Ellendale in Sussex County, bringing with them at least one bottle of yellowish water from their local supply. Loretta Benson, executive director of the Ellendale Community Civic Improvement Association, says the community has been unhappy with its water quality for over 20 years.
"It has rust in it, it’s contaminated, it’s bad for our health," said Benson. "Our children is our future, we need to hear from our legislators and our senators.
Benson added that some of her neighbors in Ellendale spend $300 a month to buy clean drinking water from the store.
In the coming months, the campaign will continue to try and get more organizations and people to come on board. The turnout at the rally is an indication, Goggin said, that they're making significant progress.
“Legislators are responding," said Goggin. "They are hearing their constituents want water quality to be a priority for them. And I think the fact that we have our leading clean water champions show up today is a great example of how we’ve been successful.”