Delaware Clean Water Trust is unveiled to fund water projects, address flooding and drainage problems

Governor John Carney, state lawmakers and advocates of clean water gathered in Dover Tuesday for the announcement of a Clean Water Trust

Addressing Delaware's water concerns will take much more than a drop in the bucket.

For several years, the state has been trying to come up with a way to pay for projects that ensure clean, safe drinking water and to address flooding and storm water management concerns.

Governor Carney and legislative leaders believe they have hit upon a solution.

The Clean Water for Delaware Act would create a trust to direct funding toward water projects. Initially it would be funded with $50 million in Carney's Fiscal Year 2021 budget. 

Additional federal funding into Delaware water projects would be leveraged by the state appropriation.

"We cannot wait for a catastrophe to act," House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst (D- Bear) said. 

"No community in Delaware should live in fear of polluted water and failing wastewater systems," Senate President Pro Tem David McBride (D- New Castle) said. "Yet across our great state, hundreds of our residents must be leery of the water they drink and the fish they catch."

McBride added that as Delaware enters a third straight year of budget surpluses, this is the time to act.

The measure which is sponsored by Longhurst and McBride would require an annual strategic plan, with a new focus on low-income, underserved communities.

"Part of the impetus around this almost 30 years ago and today was difficult-to-serve communities," Carney said. They include manufactured home communities in rural areas.

Clean water has been the focus of a rally each year at Legislative Hall for several years. The measure drew applause from representatives of the Sierra Club, the Delaware Rural Water Association and other organizations.

The Delaware Nature Society said 90 percent of Delaware's waterways are polluted or impaired.

"It's been a long journey," Delaware Nature Society Executive Director Anne Harper said. "Today is a really important, milestone day."

Reporter - Anchor

Mark Fowser is a veteran journalist in Delaware.