The Common Waters Fund Approach
The Common Waters Fund was established to engage forest landowners in the conservation and management of their forested land for water quality benefits, by providing them with incentives for improving or modifying management of their lands to benefit water quality. It also has provided financing to land trusts in the upper basin to enable the donation or purchase of conservation easements on forested properties. You can see the results of the initial round of funding on our Projects page.
The program aims to focus its efforts on the most important parcels for source water protection in the upper basin. These locations have been determined by reviewing and compiling available data and water quality assessments for the Upper Delaware Region. Projects such as riparian plantings, prevention of erosion, invasive species removal, deer fencing, and other management practices that will improve the health and economic viability of family forests are encouraged. The practices on which the fund focuses have been selected because of their potential to provide water quality benefits and keep forests as forests.
The Common Waters Fund plans to continue and expand not only the landowner conservation incentive program, but other elements as well, all of which work together to improve the stewardship of our water. The priority funding areas map itself is a good start, by providing useful information to regional planning agencies and the Delaware River Basin Commission. Outreach to and education of not only municipalities, but individuals, organizations and businesses about the relationship between land stewardship and water quality, the importance of smart growth, clustered development, and other issues relevant to water quality, are an important part of the overall effort to guarantee a clean water future in the Delaware River Basin.
Going forward, the Common Waters Fund aims to engage downstream stakeholders in the quality of Delaware River water to create an ongoing stream of the funding needed to maintain that quality.