The recent passage and signature of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) brings hope for birds, ecosystems, and communities throughout the Delaware River Watershed. This Act provides historic funding for traditional transportation and infrastructure projects as well as acknowledges the importance of maintaining clean, quality water by investing $26 million in supplemental funding over the next five years to the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program (DRBRP).
This funding will supplement the regular amount of funding appropriated annually by Congress ($10 million was enacted for the DRBRP in FY21). The DRBRP supports investments in critical on-the-ground projects in the Delaware River Watershed aimed at conserving the region’s natural resources, restoring and protecting important habitat for birds and other wildlife, and helping ensure clean drinking water for more than 13.3 million people.
Audubon staff and members supported these efforts and are grateful to members of the Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and Delaware delegations who supported the Act. Audubon will continue to use funding from this program for on-the-ground conservation work to protect and restore bird habitat throughout the watershed.
Equally encouraging this year was the House appropriations bill for the Interior Department that included $12.5 million for the DRBRP (an increase from the $10 million in FY21 mentioned above). Audubon is hopeful Congress continues increasing appropriations for this important conservation program on par with waterways like the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes that received $87.5 million and $330 million, respectively, in FY21.
The Infrastructure Act also includes funding to address water and habitat restoration through a variety of programs. In addition to the $26 million for the DRBRP, Audubon is extremely pleased to see the following included:
- Reauthorization of the Clean Water and Drinking Water state revolving funds (SRFs) and supplemental appropriations for the following:
- Clean Water SRF: $19.9 billion
- Drinking Water SRF: $17.3 billion
- Lead Line Replacement funds: $15 billion
- PFAS targeted funds: $1 billion through the Clean Water SRF, $4 billion through the Drinking Water SRF, $5 billion through the Small and Disadvantaged Communities drinking water program
- $132 million for the National Estuary Program
- $1.9 billion in supplemental funding for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers aquatic restoration projects
The Act goes a long way to address outdated systems throughout the country while also funding critical conservation programs. Birds are telling us that our survival is linked to theirs and we must do more to protect the unique places we all need, like the Delaware River Watershed.