Date: Thursday, December 2nd, 2021
Come join us for a Seminar, presentation of the Homack Award, and 2022 Board Elections. This meeting is a virtual meeting, link to be provided to registrants prior to the event.
Understanding Government Expenditures to Protect and Restore Water Quality in the Delaware River Basin
Daniel J. Van Abs, PhD, FAICP/PP Dept. of Human Ecology, School of Environmental & Biological Sciences, Rutgers University
A Rutgers team has completed a ground-breaking 2021 report for the William Penn Foundation on government expenditures for water quality protection in the Delaware River Basin. This is the first project-level compilation of Basin expenditures across all levels of government, and to our knowledge for any large river basin in the nation. The Foundation asked the Rutgers team to compile a detailed assessment of government expenditures in 2014 through 2019 for the protection and preservation of water quality in the Delaware River Basin, focused on land preservation, land and stream restoration, and the implementation of stormwater and agricultural best management practices. The project also included intensive interviews with key experts and thought leaders about how government programs address Basin needs, including equity issues. This project supports William Penn Foundation efforts since the year 2013 for constituency building, watershed-wide science and advocacy, and targeted watershed preservation and restoration projects. Total Foundation funding allocated for these projects was approximately $347 million over an eight-year period (2013-2020), and the program continues.
Rutgers collected more than $800 million in specific project expenditures over a wide range of federal, state, county and municipal governments for the six year period. State governments provided nearly 60 percent of all reported funding, while federal agencies contributed less than 10 percent. However, expenditures were concentrated at the county and municipal levels, indicating a major transfer of funds from larger to smaller jurisdictions. By far, open space and agricultural preservation were the largest project categories, representing three-quarters of all reported expenditures. This finding clearly indicates a strong governmental bias toward preservation over restoration. While the database is large, some federal and state agencies and many municipalities have yet to respond. Additional work is planned on gathering data that were not available during the pandemic in 2020, and on extending the database beyond 2019. The expert interviews indicated that most practitioners are very focused on their specific watersheds or regions and there is much less focus on a basin-wide perspective. Another major finding is that equity is seen as a very difficult concept to address in this field, primarily because each government program was created for specific purposes without coordination or consideration of how the combined results affect equity. With the major emphasis on land preservation for farmland and ecosystem protection, urban and developed suburban areas are inevitably receiving less funding. The William Penn Foundation intends to use this information to better understand the total amount of government funding over time, along with its distribution across project categories and geography. They are encouraging additional government commitments to the Basin, helping non-governmental organizations increase their capacity for acquiring and using government funds, and encouraging further attention to equity issues.
Speaker Bio: Dr. Van Abs has over 40 years of public and non-profit sector professional and management experience developing and implementing highly recognized programs in watershed protection, water supply management, water quality pollution control, open space planning, land use management, and wastewater management. Dan holds a PhD in environmental policy from the State University of New York. He currently is a professor of professional practice for water, society, and environment at Rutgers.
This talk is eligible for 0.5 AICP CM self-reporting credit.