The Delaware River stretches across five different U.S. states extending from New York all the way down to Delaware. For those river communities living along the East Coast, particularly in those five states, business is dependent on The Delaware River. If a major catastrophe was to arise or a rapid depletion of the river occurred, many would not only be left without jobs but entire communities would crumble in the river’s aftermath.
The financial well being of many businesses along the Delaware River thrives off of the economics the river brings to the area. One major reason for this is the shipping industry. Many, including myself, get our products from shipments that come in through the river. The Delaware River’s shipping industry brings products, services and goods from Camden, New Jersey, all the way to Delaware. I personally own a winery in Delaware, and if it wasn’t for the shipping of goods offered by this river my business would fall to the ground in a heartbeat.
Delaware is home to the world’s largest wine region. Stretching 96,000 acres down the river, this region is what helps my business thrive. The grapes harvested here for the wine my business produces are essential. With the wine appellation being right along the river bank, any contamination that gets into the river is going to have a detrimental effect on my business. In recent years, there have been many oil spills along The Delaware River. The most recent one occurred in 2004 in which over 265,000 US gallons of oil was spilled near the Port of Paulsboro. Although the wine appellation is not near this port, any contamination that enters those waters has a direct effect on the entire ecosystem of the river.
Over 1,017,000 gallons of oil have been spilt into The Delaware River since 1975. The danger of more oil spills in the river grows every day. With over 14,000 oil spills occurring in the United States every year, one would think that the federal government would have found a way by now to fully clean up these spills. The thing is that these oil spills are not easy to clean up. They take specialist equipment that often cannot even get the majority of it. The biggest danger with an oil spill is that it doesn’t just drop to the button of where it originated from. It spreads, and it spreads fast. This is why a large scale oil spill is one of the biggest threats businesses along the river have. All it would take would be one spill to put tens of thousands of people out of a job overnight.
A report released by Environment New Jersey shows that over 6.7 million pounds of toxic pollutant is discharged into the river annually. This makes The Delaware River the 5th largest in the nation for the highest amount of total toxic discharge. The same report has estimated that it will cost $35 million to improve the water quality from this toxic poison. Clearly, my business depends on a well-cared-for river. The entire community would dry up without it. The water from The Delaware River Basin is what communities along the river use for drinking, irrigation and everyday household needs. Over 15 million people are sharing the 13,500 square mile water source. My business uses water every day to produce the delicious wine we bottle and sell. This water supply is crucial to the survival of my business.
Another concern businesses along The Delaware River have, is flooding. While the west worries about drought, we worry about flooding. Those that live along the east coast take the risk of a hurricane every year. However, there are steps and actions that can be taken by local government to help minimize the damage that would be caused by such a destructive act of nature. There have been numerous attempts at building a dam to contain the high water levels; however every attempt has failed. With every hurricane season, more and more folks take the risk of losing their entire life’s work. With the wine business, it is not just my physical business that I worry about, but it’s the wine region as well. With waters gushing in and over the region, I have personally taken several precautions to try and secure the region from any further destruction. If a dam is not built soon, I am afraid the river may one day come up and destroy the land forever.
The economy of the river keeps my business and thousands of others alive. We all work in sync with one another to ensure great working relations. It is thanks to the help of the river that the wine region can grow and flourish. It is thanks to the river that shipping companies can come in and ship the products and goods I need to ensure my business is successful. It is also the river that keeps my business in business. The Delaware River, like many across the country, attracts tourists year round. From boat enthusiasts to ice skating competitors, life along the river is never dull. Without the tourism industry, my business would find it hard to flourish. While I do get many locals in the area who want a taste of the specialty wine my company produces, it is the tourists who travel in and out on a daily basis who keep me going. Without the river, there would be no business and no way of life! Every single piece of the economy in this region is based on the river, and we all must work together to preserve it.
As you can see, The Delaware River is my source for life. Without it, my business would crumble as would the six million of us who live along this precious source of water. It is not only up to the local, state and even federal government to ensure this resource continues to flourish and flow for years to come, but it’s also up to those of us who have businesses and homes along the river banks.