Signs of the river

By LINDA DROLLINGER
Posted 5/12/20

REGION – Not even everyone’s favorite digital go-to person, Alexa, can tell you where the boundaries of the Delaware River Watershed lie. The same is true for that other digital …

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Signs of the river

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REGION – Not even everyone’s favorite digital go-to person, Alexa, can tell you where the boundaries of the Delaware River Watershed lie. The same is true for that other digital know-it-all, Siri. That is one reason, says Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) Executive Director Steve Tambini, that the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, a network of 150+ Delaware River conservation agencies has partnered with the New York State Department of Transportation to place along state roadways 14 signs indicating those boundaries.

At a May 5 press teleconference, New York State Congressman Antonio Delgado, Sen. Jen Metzger and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther announced the signage placement, the first of its kind in New York State (NYS) history, to highlight the NYS boundaries of the Delaware River Watershed (DRW). The DRW encompasses 2,390 square miles of Southeastern NYS land and water resources, is home to eight million residents and is the source of public drinking water for 13.3 million people in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

The signage project got underway in June 2019 when the Delaware River Watershed Coalition met with three lead partner agencies, Friends of the Upper Delaware, the DRBC, the Upper Delaware Council (UDC) and other stakeholders at the UDC’s office in Narrowsburg, NY. The project’s mission was to inform people of the watershed’s boundary locations and, in so doing, increase awareness of the watershed and its importance to the habitat and economy of the Northeast. From awareness, it was hoped that advocacy and stewardship would follow naturally.

While he was running for office, Delgado made protection and restoration of the Upper Delaware Region a cornerstone of his campaign. He was also the first champion of a federal grant program that, since 2017, has endowed the DRW.

Since taking office, Metzger, long an avid Delaware River recreationist, has made protection and restoration of the watershed one of her primary initiatives. “The Delaware River Watershed sustains our region in so many ways—economically, recreationally and ecologically—and the new signage marking its boundaries will raise awareness of its immense value and promote good stewardship practices among residents and visitors alike,” said Metzger.

Gunther said, “These 14 new signs will act not only as a gateway to the Delaware River Watershed but also as a gateway for people to learn about the watershed. The signs are meant to educate and to foster a sense of appreciation and a sense of place.” She added, “I’m so lucky that I can get in my car and be at the river in 20 minutes.”

Tambini noted that some of the signs are nowhere near the river; in most cases, their placement is in correlation to New York City Water Supply reservoirs. The two in Sullivan County are near Grahamsville, home to the Neversink and Rondout reservoirs. Others are in the Hancock and New Paltz areas.

As long as it flows freely, most urban dwellers care little from whence their tap water comes. These signs are designed to acquaint them most personally with the source of their single most precious commodity.

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