“We’re surrounded by waterways, we should take care of it,” says Delaware Surf Fishing Owner Rich King. “90% of our waterways are so polluted, they can barely support fish life and they’re all full of swimming advisories.”
The bill states that most of the state’s waters do not meet quality standards for drinking, swimming, and supporting aquatic life. It’s aimed at getting more money for clean wastewater, drinking water, and drainage projects as well as increased use of agricultural best practices.
King also says this bill would have an economical impact on the fishing industry. “If you take care of the waterways, you’re going to get a better habitat and then down the road, you’ll have better fishing and it all kind of builds on itself,” he says.
Dillon Holdren and Hunter Jones who own water sports and parasailing companies in Dewey Beach say they could prosper from the improved water quality outlined in the bill.
“One of our biggest selling products is actually our paddle boards and the kayak rentals,” says Holdren. “We have people down in the water at all times and sometimes they fall off the equipment. I just want them to have a safe and enjoyable experience.”
Holdren and Jones say that whenever there’s a bad storm, the Rehoboth Bay often floods halfway down Dickinson Street. They’re hoping this bill would bring funding and projects that would reduce flooding like this in Delaware’s Inland Bays and protect their businesses.
“We have a bunch of equipment down on the dock that’s in water. If those levels reach too high, our dock does not float,” Holdren explains. “It’s not going to move with those water levels and then we’re looking at damaging our own equipment.”
Projects to fix these issues would be paid for through existing budgets with no tax increases.
Governor John Carney says that method won’t work. “What I object to is earmarking revenue and certainly giving […] authority to an entity other than the state,” he says.
The Bill is in the House Committee of Natural Resources awaiting the committee hearing.