The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed is celebrating as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation jointly announced March 22 the first round of 25 Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund grant recipients totaling $4,140,000 in federal funds.

This is the first time that dedicated federal funding has been allocated to on-the-ground projects that conserve and restore the Delaware River Basin — New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware — which provides 15 million people, including New York City and Philadelphia, with drinking water.

Of the 25 Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund grantees, 15 are members of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, including Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, which serves Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, as well as the University of Delaware Water Resources Center.

Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund grants were awarded to organizations to address issues facing the watershed, such as conserving and restoring fish and wildlife habitat, improving and maintaining water quality, sustaining and enhancing water management and reducing flood damage and improving recreational opportunities and public access. Delaware received $241,000 for one in-state project and two multi-state projects. Four multi-state projects received $490,392.

"We’re delighted that the new Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund will support bringing living shoreline technology to the freshwater urban areas of the Delaware Estuary and to work with partners such as the Philadelphia Water Department and states of Delaware and New Jersey," said Danielle Kreeger, science director, Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. "During the funding period, we will find locations in Delaware and New Jersey where tidal, freshwater living shorelines would be effective in stabilizing stream erosion, buffering waves and flooding and promoting improved water quality using natural means. We will also work with the Philadelphia Water Department to design and implement a portion of a freshwater mussel-based living shoreline for water quality and habitat enhancement along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia."

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation performed a preliminary analysis of expected outcomes from the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund grants and discovered that across all the proposed projects, 626 acres of wetland habitat will be restored; 12 miles of riparian habitat will be restored; 549 acres of floodplain will be restored; 64 miles of stream habitat will be restored; 1,406 acres of forest habitat will have improved management; 18,310,710 gallons of stormwater will be prevented; 12 miles of trails will be developed or improved; 1,794 acres will have new or improved public access; and 32 new jobs will be created by project investments.

For more, visit delriverwatershed.org.