Delaware Nature Society, a partner of the Choose Clean Water Coalition, launched its “Clean Water: Delaware’s Clear Choice” Campaign as a public education and outreach effort to build public support for dedicated clean water funding. Currently, 90% of waterways in Delaware are polluted. To address water quality programs, over $100 million annually in needs have been identified. The campaign seeks to engage citizens in a myriad of ways, from grassroots education and advocacy workshops to an informal stakeholder Alliance network, to direct conversation with elected officials and candidates for public office.
Clean Water Alliance
Delaware’s Clear Choice Campaign is championed by a Clean Water Alliance, a coalition of diverse stakeholders, such as nonprofit organizations, businesses and academia that support dedicated funding for clean water. The Alliance is led by Delaware Nature Society, Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Brandywine Red Clay Alliance and University of Delaware’s Water Resources Agency. Since January 2016, the Clean Water Alliance has welcomed 11 new members and expanded the reach of the campaign to professional groups, university students, recreational clubs and community organizations spanning water resource policy, environmental justice, sustainable gardening and brewing.
Leading the Conversation
A centerpiece of Delaware’s Clear Choice Campaign is strengthening and leveraging partnerships in order to increase the voice Delawareans can have in 2016. On June 7, 2016, the Campaign launched its 2nd Annual Clean Water Rally that brought together 150 passionate and concerned citizens to the steps of Legislative Hall in Dover, DE to show how much they support clean water. The event allowed residents to meet with their individual legislators and Governor Jack Markell to highlight the importance of dedicated clean water funding in Delaware.
On August 30, 2016, the Campaign wrapped up the summer by co-hosting back-to-back environmental forums with the League of Women Voters of Delaware and New Castle County and the Delaware Inter-faith Power and Light. Over 100 Delawareans attended and submitted questions to candidates running for the Offices of City of Wilmington Mayor and Lt. Governor. Questions and discussion were related to environmental issues such as clean water, conservation funding, the Coastal Zone Act and environment education.
Cultivating “Water Warriors”
In early 2016, the Campaign launched the first of a series of educational and advocacy workshops to train a committed group of passionate citizen advocates from across the state, dubbed “Water Warriors.” Water Warriors serve as advocates for additional clean water funding by sharing their knowledge of the legislative process and their training in water conservation strategies to effect change in their homes, backyards and communities. During April and May 2016, the Campaign offered workshops that educated audiences about the need for dedicated funding, how to lobby Delaware’s legislature, how a bill becomes law and how to protect Delaware’s water resources by installing a rain garden or rain barrel. It also taught advocates how to be neighborhood ambassadors for clean water. Water Warriors concluded workshops by working in teams to come up with communications strategies for advocating for funding by writing to their elected officials, providing testimony at a public hearing and offering public comment. This fall, the Campaign has continued training new Water Warriors while engaging with those who completed workshops during the spring. The Campaign has provided advanced training opportunities through a walking tour to exhibit the real-life impact of green storm water management strategies that mitigate chronic flooding and reduce water pollution from storm water runoff.