Funding for clean water projects announced, project ideas circulating

DELAWARE – Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is making $1.233 million in grant funding available for Delaware clean water projects.

We’re told Delaware residents, along with government agencies, New Castle, Kent, and Sussex conservation districts, and non-profit organizations throughout the state, can help support Delaware’s continuing quest for clean water through this grant. “To really see big improvements in water quality, we would need massive investments like these types of grant programs,” says Executive Director at the Delaware Center for Inland Bays, Chris Bason.

Bason tells 47 ABC, this funding addresses the 80% of Delaware water that’s polluted.

“The community in this area has wanted change for a long time and it’s really hard to get this sort of change,” says Bason. He tells us, the state has made great progress over the years to address the problem, but there’s still more work to be done.

DNREC’s Secretary, Shawn M. Garvin says in a statement,  “While there has been a vast improvement in Delaware’s water quality, challenges still persist, and meeting those challenges is crucial to our state’s achieving our goal of clean water for all Delawareans.”

We’re told, this funding comes after the work environmentalists have done over the years with point source pollution.

“These are the things that are easy to identify, you can point to, it’s like a pipe coming out into a stream with wastewater so we’ve done great with them,” says Bason. However, according to him, Delaware has done very little with non-point sources of pollution. “And those are the sources that are distributed over an entire landscape and they can include things like fertilizers from farm fields and greases from highways and even PCBs from industrial areas,” says Bason.

With this type of funding, it could cover projects like planting forests next to waterways to act as filters for pollution, creating oyster reefs to provide habitats and filters, creating wetlands that can capture run-off from agricultural areas, and even helping small farmers manage their nutrients better. Bason tells us, community members are ready to jump right in and help make this happen. “They really want to have skin in the game and take a hands-on approach to protecting the environment and these projects give them an avenue to do that.”

According to officials, it’ll take more than a single grant to fix all the problems, but it’s a great start to begin seeing significant change. “Everybody really cares about clean water and now the challenge is everyone working really quickly and it’s done right so they benefit people and they benefit fish and wildlife and our economy,” says Bason.

We’re also told, this funding also plays a huge in funding for cover crops; which is the second crop farmers plants to hold nutrients in the field so they don’t leach out into drinking water. Bason says, this continues the mission of bringing the clean water issue to light and doing something about it.

Officials from DNREC also say all projects must include match funding from a non-federal source totaling at least 67% of the federal funding requested through the Section 319 Nonpoint Source grant proposal.

DNREC will begin accepting proposals on December 6th.

You can find more information about the grant by clicking here.

Categories: Delaware, Local News