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The William Penn Foundation is announcing Tuesday (April 2, 2013) a massive effort to turn the Delaware River watershed into a lab for innovation - for investigating and determining how best to protect or restore water quality.
About $35 million in grants mainly over the next three years - with the potential of nearly $200 million more to follow in leveraged money - will fund the work that will protect more than 30,000 acres, implement more than 40 restoration projects, find solutions that can be replicated elsewhere, and follow through with years of data collection to quantify the effects.
The Philadelphia philanthropy termed the initiative an "unprecedented collaboration" bringing together 40-plus regional and national groups.
"This is one of the largest philanthropic investments in watersheds ever," said Peter Howell, executive vice president of the Open Space Institute, based in New York, which is managing the largest grant, $10.2 million.
Much of it will be used for land conservation, and the institute is targeting projects where the funds can be matched 3-1, for an additional $27 million worth of projects.