Thursday, April 5, 2018

$42M in Penn Foundation funds for Delaware Rver groups

Millions of dollars more for grassroots efforts in New Jersey and adjoining states to tackle dangers to vital source of drinking water

Jon Hurdle reports for NJ Spotlight:

A multistate initiative to improve water quality in the Delaware River Basin moved into a new phase yesterday with the announcement of another $42 million in private funding to help dozens of grassroots groups tackle the causes of pollution, runoff, deforestation and aquifer depletion.
The Delaware River Watershed Initiative got the new money from the William Penn Foundation which launched the program four years ago with the aim of coordinating the efforts of nongovernmental organizations that bring different approaches to defending water quality.
It focuses on eight regional “clusters” where water quality was given a baseline assessment by the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, and where the condition of waterways is monitored by experts.

Funds for Highlands and Kirkwood-Cohansey

In New Jersey, the program includes funding for clusters such as the Highlands and the Kirkwood-Cohansey area of South Jersey where local participants have been figuring out how best to work together since the initiative was launched in 2014.
It’s been a challenging but rewarding process deciding how to use the skills of each local group to produce a coherent effort, said Elliott Ruga, policy director of the Highlands Coalition, which is getting about $185,000 over the next three years, about the same as its funding for the first four years of the program.
The Highlands group, one of 11 organizations in that cluster, will use the money to play to its strengths as an advocate and a communicator of the need for better water quality in a region that is the source of drinking water for some 15 million people in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware. It will spend part of the money to create a social media campaign and, in the second and third years of the program, on conferences to bring together the many different groups that want to defend the region’s water quality.
Ruga said the Highlands Coalition recognizes that it doesn’t have the skillset to, for example, preserve land like the Land Conservancy of New Jersey, another member of the Highlands cluster brought together by the DRWI. “They don’t know about community, they don’t know about advocacy, they know about finding willing sellers to purchase land from,” he said. But any communications deficit can be made up within the DRWI by the participation of the Highlands Coalition.
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