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Contact: Melanie Rapp, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902,; or
Randi Novakoff, Air Quality Partnership of Delaware, 302-737-6205 ext. 111, 

Wilmington’s Earth Day Celebration highlights Clean Water in Wilmington
Event features Clean Water for Delaware’s Future Initiative and Air Quality Awareness Week

WILMINGTON (April 22, 2014) – At Wilmington’s Earth Day Celebration in Rodney Square today, Clean Water for Delaware’s Future and Air Quality Awareness Week were highlighted at a press conference that celebrated Earth Day by encouraging Delawareans to help clean up our bays, rivers and streams and improve the quality of the air that we breathe. In their remarks, EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin, DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara, American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic President and CEO Deborah Brown, City of Wilmington’s Director of Communications Alexandra Coppadge, and Partnership for the Delaware Estuary Executive Director Jennifer Adkins challenged individuals to take actions that will build a cleaner and healthier Delaware now and for future generations.

“Ensuring a future where all Americans can enjoy clean water and healthy air is of the utmost importance to the EPA,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin.  “It’s also why we must begin to act on climate change at every level of government.  On this Earth Day, I encourage everyone to start living a greener lifestyle – small actions do add up to larger gains in protecting our environment.”

April 22 marks the 44th anniversary of Earth Day, a day to celebrate the earth that includes week long events and activities that encourage environmental stewardship. Wilmington’s Earth Day Celebration educated adults and young people on the importance of conserving, protecting and caring for our natural resources. Through interactive presentations and hands-on activities, visitors learned about the significance of Earth Day and the value of protecting the Earth everyday though their own actions. The theme of this year’s Wilmington Earth Day Celebration was “Clean Waterways in Wilmington.”

In his remarks, Secretary O’Mara spoke about the importance of Earth Day as a day to celebrate and promote the conservation of our planet. “Imagine our world without clean water, clean air or sustainable land,” said Sec. O’Mara. “We all have a role in conserving and protecting our precious natural resources. I encourage Delawareans to make every day – Earth Day – and take meaningful actions that will help ensure that our natural resources are clean and healthy for us today and into the future.” 

Sec. O’Mara highlighted Clean Water for Delaware’s Future – the initiative that will invest in projects that improve water quality, increase resiliency of communities to flooding and storms, protect public health and safety, support Delaware’s multi-billion dollar tourism and agriculture industries, and bolster the economic revitalization of our cities and towns – all while creating jobs and strengthening the economy.

“Delaware’s future depends on clean water,” said Secretary O’Mara. “The Christina River and nearly every waterway in Delaware, other than our ocean beaches, remain unsafe for swimming and fishing and nearly every community in the state, including Southbridge here Wilmington, is struggling with more frequent flooding and storms. Now is the time to implement Clean Water for Delaware’s Future, the plan that accelerates a wide range of clean water projects that will reduce flooding in our communities and clean up our waterways within a generation.” 

Clean Water for Delaware’s Future will generate additional funding for wastewater, stormwater and drinking water projects throughout the state. Funds will be used to support projects that will: remove toxics and restore streams and rivers; repair and update wastewater and drinking water treatment plants; modernize stormwater infrastructure in communities to improve flood and storm resilience; support conservation and agricultural practices that prevent pollutants from reaching surface and ground waters; protect and restore critical natural resources like wetlands and forests that help purify water and mitigate flooding; and make important upgrades to industries, which will systematically reduce impacts to water resources.

Jennifer Adkins, Exec. Director for the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary whose organization hosted the celebration, said. “Clean water is a group effort – the City and State both have roles to play, our organization is working to restore wetlands and shellfish that clean our waterways, and people here at the Earth Day in Rodney Square are getting tips on ways to prevent pollution at home. If everyone does just a few things – like planting trees, using salt and fertilizer sparingly, and picking up after pets – it can make a big difference to our rivers and streams.”

Today’s event also highlighted Air Quality Awareness Week, April 28 –May 3, 2014, a week devoted to educating Delawareans on local air quality and encouraging voluntary actions to minimize pollution. Held every year at the beginning of ozone season, Air Quality Awareness Week brings attention to the impacts of ground-level ozone and particulate pollution for people susceptible to the impacts of air pollution - especially young children, seniors and people with asthma. 

American Lung Association (ALA) of the Mid-Atlantic President and CEO Deborah Brown spoke on behalf of the Air Quality Partnership of Delaware. Ms. Brown said. “The American Lung Association has led the fight for a new, national air quality standard that has strengthened outdated limits on annual levels of particle pollution. Thanks to air pollution health standards set under the Clean Air Act, Delaware has seen continued reductions in air pollution. But we have a lot of work still to do. For the first time ever, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has identified all outdoor air pollution as carcinogenic.”

“Those at greatest risk from air pollution include infants, children, older adults, anyone with lung diseases like asthma, people with heart disease or diabetes, and anyone who works or exercises outdoors – that is a large proportion of Delaware’s community,” continued Ms. Brown. “The ALA has a useful free mobile app called “State of the Air” that forecasts the air quality for those who are impacted by lung disease. We recommend anyone with a smart phone get the app. I am always in awe of the natural beauty of Delaware. Let's make poor air quality days a relic of the past. We can lessen air pollution by reducing vehicle emissions, by using cleaner gasoline and more efficient cars, and reducing power plant and factory emissions. We can make Delaware the cleanest, healthiest state we know by Earth Day 2020.”

In support of Air Quality Awareness week and on behalf of Mayor Dennis P. Williams, the city of Wilmington’s Communications Director Alexandra Coppadge read an Air Quality Proclamation.

“Earth Day and Air Quality Awareness Week are more than an annual environmental wake up call, it is an opportunity for the community to recognize the earth’s many valuable natural resources, promote environmental education and encourage citizens to actively play a role in minimizing pollution,” said Ms. Coppadge  “Air Quality Awareness Week presents the opportunity for people to check air quality forecasts, learn about what causes poor air quality, and determine what they can do to help make our air cleaner.”

Sec. O’Mara also read an Air Quality Awareness Week Proclamation from Governor Markell that urges Delawareans to do their share on Air Quality Awareness Week and throughout the year to help combat air pollution and help make our air cleaner and healthier to breathe.

During Air Quality Awareness Week, the Air Quality Partnership of Delaware is encouraging Delawareans to pledge to reduce air pollution for just one day during the week by walking, biking, carpooling or riding public transit instead of a driving a vehicle. According to DNREC’s Division of Air, by walking or biking one mile, instead of driving a car, nearly one pound of carbon dioxide emissions is eliminated. If every adult Delawarean pledged to walk or bike just one day during Air Quality Awareness Week, approximately 15 million pounds of pollution would be reduced from our air.

The Air Quality Awareness Week pledge can be found on the Ride Share Delaware website here
Ride Share Delaware. Those who pledge to make a difference in air quality will be entered in a contest to win a $100 gift card.   

To the delight of school children in the audience, the Partnership announced Tropo, their new life-size mascot. Tropo, named for the troposphere, the lowest portion of the Earth’s atmosphere that supports life, will educate kids and adults about air quality and how it can be improved.  Tropo will be visiting schools and community events throughout the state highlighting air quality, the health effects of poor air quality and the simple steps that everyone can take to improve the air that we breathe.

More information on air quality awareness and Tropo can be found at the Air Quality Partnership of Delaware’s website at For information on ozone season and DNREC’s air monitoring stations, visit, DNREC’s website at

Vol. 44, No. 118

This effort supports Governor Markell’s Clean Water for Delaware’s Future initiative – a comprehensive plan for cleaning up Delaware’s bays, rivers and streams so they meet water quality standards for drinking, swimming and supporting fish and other aquatic life. The plan accelerates a wide range of clean water projects that protect public health and safety, improve water quality, increase the resiliency of Delaware’s communities to storms and flooding, support our multi-billion dollar tourism and agriculture industries, create jobs and bolster the economic revitalization of our towns and cities.

The Air Quality Partnership of Delaware is a group of citizens, public agencies, and private corporations concerned about the region’s air quality. Its mission is to raise awareness and inform Delawareans about practices that improve air quality and citizen health. To learn more about Tropo’s activities or the Air Quality Partnership of Delaware, please visit

Organized by the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, the Wilmington Earth Day Celebration is sponsored by the City of Wilmington and the Delaware Department of Transportation, with support from Goodwill of Delaware and Delaware County.

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