Delaware passes Clean Water for Delaware Act

July 28, 2021
The law establishes the $50M Clean Water Trust, which will fund several water infrastructure projects with an emphasis on underserved communities.

On July 22, Delaware’s governor signed into law the Clean Water for Delaware Act, which creates a new Clean Water Trust to protect the state’s waterways and rebuild its drinking water infrastructure with a focus on underserved communities.

The bill establishes a framework for planning projects that support the quality of the state’s water and  calls for creating the Delaware Clean Water Trust. The Act is also supported by $50 million in the fiscal year 2022 budget, giving it the financial strength that the State’s previous efforts at water legislation lacked.

For the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Delaware Health and Social Services and other state agencies, the Clean Water for Delaware Act goes much deeper into managing the state’s water resources. It spans numerous water quality programs whose funding will be supported by the Clean Water Trust, including infrastructure for drinking water, stormwater and wastewater, and covering programs for drainage, waterway management and beach preservation, and many other water-related projects funded by separate state and federal resources among them the conservation reserve enhancement program, conservation cost-sharing and tax ditches.

One of the major environmental openings is the Act’s support of the Governor’s Clean Water Initiative for Underserved Communities that is part of DNREC’s work with the state’s low-income, underserved communities.

“All Delawareans deserve clean water. The Clean Water for Delaware Act and our new Clean Water Trust will help us deliver on that promise,” said Governor Carney. “This legislation and unprecedented investment, which had bipartisan support, will help us protect our waterways for future generations of Delawareans, and upgrade our infrastructure to make sure all Delaware families have access to clean drinking water.”

The Act also contains a passage that “it is important that priorities for clean water projects in this State be given to projects that utilize green infrastructure and enhancement of natural systems to provide ecological benefits that improve water quality, demonstrate a high ratio of nutrient or pollution reduction to the amount of funding, and improve of community resilience to extreme weather, sea level rise, and other climate impacts.” And language for creating of the Clean Water Trust is explicit that “Existing federal and State funding resources alone are inadequate to meeting the State’s current and future demand for clean water projects.”

“House Bill 200 and the new clean water funding investments are a game changer for Delaware,” said Delaware Nature Society Interim Executive Director Joanne McGeoch. “Clean water is critical to Delaware’s environment, wildlife, economy, food supply, and public health. HB 200 will ensure that this vital resource is protected today and for future generations.”


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