PHILADELPHIA – Yesterday, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) passed Resolution 2021-01 to protect the Delaware River Watershed and the water resources that 13.3 million people and more than 400 bird species depend on throughout the region. This vote, which prohibits all high volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the watershed, sends a clear message that the Delaware River Watershed is a national treasure and vitally important for drinking water, bird habitat and communities, all of which face the increasing negative impacts of climate change.
“Beloved waterfowl like American Black Ducks rely on a healthy Delaware River Watershed ecosystem to survive – just as communities do across the four watershed states. Today’s final regulations highlight the critical role of the Delaware River Basin Commission in managing shared water resources across political boundaries and protecting the watershed’s surface water, forest and groundwater resources,” said Beth Brown, director of Audubon’s Delaware River Watershed Program. “Audubon is encouraged by the DRBC’s recognition of climate change impacts on the watershed and its efforts toward a cleaner energy future.”
“Audubon commends the DRBC and its role in taking a science-based approach to managing water quality and quantity in the basin – through programs like Special Protection Waters, robust monitoring programs and technical modeling – to ensure drinking water reliability and quality,” said Suzanne Biemiller, executive director of Audubon Mid-Atlantic.
The DRBC is an interstate compact entity comprised of the four Delaware River basin states – New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware – and the federal government that formed in 1961 following contentious water disputes among the states. Since its formation, the DRBC has championed a watershed-wide approach to protect water resources, exemplified by its Special Protection Waters program. First passed in 1992, the program aims to “keep clean water clean” through a higher level of care in project review and permitting.
Audubon joins other water authorities and organizations as diverse as the Philadelphia Water Department, Trout Unlimited and outdoor recreation business owners in support of the DRBC’s improved water protections. The resolution does not address detrimental discharges from energy production or concerns around water transfers that will deplete the watershed of its resources. The vote by all four basin states indicates that these important issues will be revisited with proposed rulemaking later in 2021.
According to Audubon’s 2019 climate science report, two-thirds of North American bird species are at risk of extinction due to climate change, including common birds found in communities and backyards throughout the Delaware River Watershed. Birds like the American Black Duck, Belted Kingfisher, and Black-throated Blue Warbler will lose necessary habitat in at least one season in this region, telling us of the need to protect the watershed and its resources like its vast forests and extensive wetlands.
In addition to providing improved water protection and anti-degradation measures in the Mid-Atlantic region, regulations that move toward solutions to address climate change are important steps to reach an energy future of net-zero emissions by 2030 – a goal of Audubon’s Climate Initiative.
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @audubonsociety.
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