MILFORD - The Pinchot Institute for Conservation’s Common Waters initiative was awarded a 3-year grant to expand its efforts to support and maintain regional water quality in Pike, Monroe, and Sullivan counties.
     The grant is part of a $35 million multi-year initiative by the William Penn Foundation to protect and restore critical sources of drinking water for 15 million people, many in major cities including New York (NY), Philadelphia (PA), Camden (NJ), and Wilmington (DE). The total set of grants fund an unprecedented collaboration of leading conservation organizations who will align their work to protect land, restore streams, test innovative approaches in ecologically significant places, and monitor results over time.
       The overall initiative features eight “clusters” of sub-watersheds, constituting approximately 25 percent of the total Delaware River Basin across four states, where analysis has shown that investment in targeted efforts to protect or improve water quality in specific streams and rivers could deliver significant returns. Restoration and preservation efforts in these sub-watersheds not only contribute directly to the water quality in the Delaware Basin, but will also serve as incubators for cultivating a wide range of effective approaches for expanding investment across the watershed, and ultimately in other river basins across the country.
••• What they plan to do
Working with a diverse array of partner organizations and local governments, primarily in the “Poconos-Kittatinny Cluster,” the Pinchot Institute and Common Waters will:
●     Engage landowners whose properties are most critical to protection of water resources to build a pipeline of land protection projects and increase forest stewardship activity;
●     Develop an outreach plan to promote understanding of the economic value of forests and water; ●     Leverage public funds for land and water conservation within priority areas; ●     Increase collaboration and coordination among organizations in the Cluster to ensure that knowledge and strategies are shared and integrated; and,
●     Assess potential impacts of energy and related infrastructure development on priority areas.
     Combined, the array of funded projects will permanently protect more than 30,000 acres with significant waterways, implement more than 40 restoration projects that will improve local water quality, pilot new incentives for landowners and businesses, provide replicable models for other locations in the watershed, and develop long-term water quality data for the watershed at an unprecedented scale.
    The Delaware River watershed covers more than 13,500 square miles spanning New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. In addition to being a major source of drinking water, the watershed supports an array of water-related economic enterprises valued at $25 billion per year, as well as hemispherically significant habitat. Poorly planned development, deforestation, chemical runoff from farms, and storm water runoff in cities severely threaten the health of the watershed.
••• Why they are doing it

“Investing in forests in the upper Basin is crucial to maintaining the high quality and reliable flows of the Delaware River,” said Al Sample, President of the Pinchot Institute for Conservation. “We are pleased to partner with the William Penn Foundation and the many organizations involved in this initiative to leverage coordination and investment across the broad geography of the Delaware River Basin.”
     “Healthy landscapes with working farms and forests in the Delaware River watershed produce abundant food and fiber and support vibrant rural economies. They also provide clean water, clean air, and valuable wildlife habitat that benefit their own communities and urban neighbors,” said Jason Weller, Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. “This partnership highlights how a cooperative approach for applying conservation activities on private and public land is essential for everyone in the watershed—whether they live in urban or rural areas.”
    “EPA values collaborative initiatives like this that help organizations build greater capacity and leverage critical resources needed to tackle the next generation of water protection issues,” said EPA Region 3 Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “This new initiative will support efforts led by other active partners, such as the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, in advancing science, research and restoration work to protect the entire bay and river watershed. Building healthy and resilient watersheds is essential to protecting our nation’s water resources, and ensuring a sustainable future for the communities that depend on them.”
    Andrew Johnson, Senior Program Officer for Watershed Protection at the William Penn Foundation, stated, “We look forward to making this work and data available to the public and hope to identify new evidence-based methods for avoiding or mitigating key stressors threatening water quality in major metropolitan areas, specifically urban storm water runoff, agricultural pollution, loss of forests in essential headwater areas, and aquifer depletion.”
••• Who is who
• About the Pinchot Institute for Conservation – The mission of the Pinchot Institute is to strengthen forest conservation thought, policy, and action by developing innovative, practical, and broadly-supported solutions to conservation challenges and opportunities. We accomplish this through nonpartisan research, education, and technical assistance on key issues influencing the future of conservation and sustainable natural resource management. The Institute was founded in 1963 in Milford, PA.
• About the Common Waters Partnership – Common Waters is a regional partnership of public and non-profit organizations and agencies focused on supporting the development of sustainable communities and working landscapes in the Delaware River watershed upstream of the Delaware Water Gap. Its primary focus is providing good scientific information at a regional level and encouraging cross-boundary communication. The mission of the Common Waters Partnership is to conserve clean water, natural places, and working lands through cooperation, scientific research, education, and technical assistance by and for the stakeholders of the region. The Common Waters Partnership is facilitated by the Pinchot Institute for Conservation.