This Act establishes a framework for assessing needs, planning and implementing projects, and providing a funding source to enhance and accelerate Delaware’s efforts in cleaning up its contaminated water resources, ensuring that all our citizens have safe drinking water, reducing flooding, and protecting jobs in agriculture and tourism. Most of the State’s waters do not meet water quality standards to support their designated uses, such as for drinking, swimming or supporting aquatic life. This Act increases the level and reliability of funding available to restore Delaware’s streams, rivers, bays, and groundwater through construction of much needed wastewater, drinking water, and drainage projects and increased use of agricultural best practices. Over the next 5 years, more than $500 million in water and wastewater system upgrades are needed statewide, including systems for underserved communities and numerous at-risk systems currently operated by homeowner’s associations in Sussex County. More than $150 million in stormwater upgrades are needed throughout the State along with more than $75 million for removing toxic pollutants from various waterways. In addition, demand for agriculture cost-share funds used to reduce pollution from nutrients far surpasses available resources.Advertisment
This Act creates a Clean Water Trust, supported by dedicating several existing revenue sources and a proposed new dedicated Clean Water Surcharge that will be levied on personal income tax payments and business license fees. The surcharge will be capped at $40 for individual tax filers, $80 for individuals filing a joint return, and $45 for business licenses. The Clean Water Surcharge will be used for capital projects, not to grow government; the allowance for administrative expenses is capped at 10% after the first 2 years and companion legislation creating a constitutionally protected “lock box” is being introduced to provide permanent protection against the fee being diverted for operating expenses. Total revenues from the surcharge are estimated to be approximately $20 million annually. The dedicated Clean Water Surcharge could leverage as much as $50 million in total financing annually for clean water investments and support more than 800 direct and indirect jobs per year. The Trust will be managed by a 5-member Board comprised of the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the Secretary of Finance, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Health and Social Services, and an appointed member with financial expertise. The Trust is authorized to issue Clean Water Revenue Bonds for projects approved by the General Assembly and will administer the funds through the already existing Water Infrastructure Advisory Council with the goal of assisting municipal and county governments and others in implementing more affordable water quality projects through low-interest loans, grants, and public-private partnerships. The Trust and the Council are required to develop a Clean Water Plan with an annually updated 5-year Strategic Plan. The Trust is required to undergo an audit each year and to report annually to the General Assembly on its activities and its progress toward meeting the goals of the Clean Water Plan.
In an effort to be an unbiased source of information, all text in this summary comes directly from government resources.
Tabled in CommitteeWed, Mar 28th 2018
Introduced and Assigned to Natural Resources Committee in HouseThu, Dec 14th 2017