The Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association is one of 65 nonprofit organizations who have recently been awarded grant funding to protect clean water in the Delaware River Basin as part of the Delaware River Watershed Initiative (DRWI). The William Penn Foundation announced $42 million in new funding for the DRWI, which is among the country’s largest non-governmental conservation efforts to protect and restore clean water. This additional $42 million will fund phase two of a three-year investment (2018-2021), which builds on initial successes to protect and restore over 43,000 additional acres and continue science-driven, data-informed efforts to secure clean, abundant water in the basin.
photo credit Margaret Rohde/WVWA
Federal policies over the past several decades such as the Clean Water Act have successfully reduced pollution in waterways nationwide, yet recent rollbacks of protections and budget cuts for the federal Environmental Protection Agency threaten to slow or reverse progress. The DRWI’s bottom-up approach represents a strategic path forward for the Delaware River basin. It is a nationally significant model that demonstrates the power of an organized, independent, non-profit-driven approach that encourages partnership between communities and the philanthropic sector. The Initiative provides a replicable model that can be used to improve water health across the country.
Gail Farmer, WVWA’s Executive Director said:
“In Phase 1, the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association worked to rally the Wissahickon Valley community around stormwater management. And the community delivered. 13 municipalities signed an intergovernmental agreement to improve stormwater management, North Wales borough invested in rain barrels and now collects 4,000 gallons of rainwater each time there is significant rainfall, and the volunteer citizen science Creek Watch program has reported 5 pollution incidents, which have resulted in quick corrective action…DRWI has enabled us to align our water quality monitoring activities with other environmental and watershed organizations, so now we are all measuring the same water quality variables across the entire Delaware River Basin. Truly remarkable!”
photo credit David Freed / WVWA
Moving forward into the next phases of this initiative, Farmer adds:
“Looking ahead to the next three years of this initiative, DRWI partners will be taking a much more strategic approach, having identified geographic focus areas in each watershed where we will be targeting our work…Our focus area for the Wissahickon watershed is the headwaters of the Sandy Run, a major tributary to the Wissahickon Creek. Due to the high volumes of polluted stormwater runoff in the area, the Sandy Run is prone to flooding, a problem for residents as well as the health of the creek. We are so excited to have the opportunity to continue this important work to protect our waterways in partnership with our colleagues and peers from all across the Delaware River basin.”
Feature Image provided by Jamie Stewart/WVWA