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In Memory of Senator Frank Lautenberg

Frank R. Lautenberg, New Jersey's senior senator, died June 3, 2013. He was 89 years old.

Serving his fifth term in the United States Senate, Frank Lautenberg was a true friend of the Delaware River and the Delaware River Basin Commission.

In June 1999, Senator Lautenberg introduced the Lower Delaware Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on November 1, 2000. This law added a 38.9-mile section of the main stem Delaware (and about 28 miles of selected tributaries) to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, linking the Delaware Water Gap and Washington Crossing, Pa., just upstream of Trenton, N.J. As a result of this law and two previous designations enacted in 1978, three-quarters of the non-tidal Delaware River is now included in the national system. The Lower Delaware Wild and Scenic Rivers Act helped pave the way for the DRBC to permanently designate the Lower Delaware as Significant Resource Waters under the commission's Special Protection Waters (SPW) program in July 2008. The entire 197-mile non-tidal Delaware River is now protected by the DRBC's SPW anti-degradation regulations.

In May 2005, Senator Lautenberg was an original cosponsor of another bill, the Musconetcong Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, that was signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 22, 2006. This law designated 24.2 miles of the Musconetcong River, a New Jersey tributary of the Delaware River, as a component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

Senator Lautenberg was keenly aware of the value of managing water resources without regard to political boundaries. He was a strong advocate for restoring the federal contribution to help support the DRBC's annual operating expenses budget as required by the Delaware River Basin Compact. He worked with Senate and House colleagues in the successful effort that led to restoration of federal funding to support the DRBC's current expense budget in the FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act for the first time since 1996. While the outcomes since FY 2009 were not what we hoped for, we could always count on Senator Lautenberg's willingness to reach out to Senate leadership and the White House as a strong advocate of the DRBC's important mission.

Just last month, the U.S. Senate passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2013 (WRDA) by a 83-14 vote that included an amendment advanced by Senator Tom Carper and Senator Chris Coons, and cosponsored by Senator Lautenberg, that directs the federal government to pay its share of the commission's annual budget. The bill, S. 601, must still be approved by the House of Representatives.

In addition, Senator Lautenberg helped to obtain congressionally-directed funding towards enhancing the Delaware River Basin's Flood Warning System following the floods of 2004, 2005, and 2006. These efforts will continue to benefit basin residents for years to come.

We extend our sincere sympathy to Senator Lautenberg's family, friends, and staff.