Environmental Protection Agency scientists and administrators could be losing authority to maintain clean water protections, and the state of Michigan has just announced it’s cancelling the free bottled water program in Flint.
These threats to clean water in America are just two reasons why William Penn Foundation’s (WPF) recent $42 million, three-year investment to the Delaware River Watershed Initiative (DRWI) comes right on time.
WPF is no stranger to funding watershed protection initiatives, and no stranger to supporting DRWI specifically: The grantmaker was one of DRWI’s founding funders in 2014, with a donation of $35 million. The latest contribution brings the foundation’s total donations to the DRWI to roughly $100 million to date, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“When we led the creation of the DRWI, our intent was to serve as a catalyst for accelerated watershed protection in our region,” said WPF Board Chair Janet Haas, in a press release. “The result is a model that will not only have an effect in the Delaware River watershed, but also will provide a model that can be replicated in other watersheds tackling similarly complex issues.”
The foundation’s own Watershed Protection program focuses on preservation and restoration, made possible by data-driven research. The org’s criteria for watershed funding follows similar standards.
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The DRWI, a collective of 65 non-governmental conservation orgs, mainly addresses the sources of pollution that affect the water quality of the rivers and streams in the Delaware River basin, which provides clean drinking water to over 5 percent of the U.S. population.
The collective monitors over 500 sites in the watershed. Due to all the projects initiated since its inception, DRWI is on par to protect almost 20,000 acres and restore an additional 8,000.
WPF’s three-year spending plan distributes that $42 million to its DRWI partners including:
- Open Space Institute ($11 million for technical assistance and land preservation)
- National Fish and Wildlife Foundation ($8 million for technical assistance and land restoration)
- Academy of Natural Sciences ($3.2 million to “serve as the science lead in planning, implementation and evaluation of the Initiative, including substantial monitoring and technical assistance”)
DRWI “established a framework to enable non-profit conservation organizations to work together across state and local boundaries that traditionally have divided the watershed,” wrote Andrew Johnson, program director of WPF’s Watershed Protection program, in an email.
“It is gratifying to see these highly effective organizations develop new partnerships, learn from each other and strategically align their work to accelerate the pace of conservation in ways that can change practice and lead to increased momentum to bring the work to scale,” he said.-30-
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