On Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, dozens of stakeholders, conservationists, public officials, and industry professionals from the Delaware River Watershed region convened in Camden City to learn about the greatest issues affecting the health of the 330-mile long river which supplies over 15 million people with water for drinking, farming, recreation and industry.
Keynote speaker Carol Collier, senior advisor of watershed management and policy at the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University, kicked off the conference with an overview of the watershed’s political and legislative history. She touched upon issues of pollution, overuse, and land development, all of which threaten the watershed’s health, and she highlighted the dependence that local and regional communities have on the watershed for drinking water.
Following Collier’s presentation a five-member panel discussed the impacts of certain evolving regulations and brainstormed the potential responses that state governments and policymakers could undertake to manage and safeguard the watershed most effectively.
Jersey Water Works Steering Committee member Dennis Hart, executive director of the Chemistry Council of New Jersey, focused his remarks on the interdependence between the watershed and New Jersey’s economy. He underlined the importance of greater collaboration between environmentalists and industries to promote and protect common resources such as the Delaware River.
When asked what policy options he would support to enhance water sustainability in the region, he drew attention to the problem of treated water that is lost through leaky pipes before reaching consumers and without generating revenue. Hart noted that he supports the implementation of the Delaware River Basin Commission’s Water Loss Accountability Rule, which mandates water loss audits and controls indirect costs such as business disruptions.
Hart also praised the significant efforts and progress being made by municipal utilities towards increasing water sustainability. “A number of utility authorities, such as Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority, are doing a great job and going beyond mandated actions at the local level to increase water efficiency by reducing stormwater runoff and CSOs,” he noted.
NJ Spotlight covered this event in detail: Delaware River Watershed: It’s healthy, but significant threats are looming.