Delaware officials took a big step to preserve the Delaware River Basin, helping residents and wildlife in the state.

On Friday, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, Governor-Elect John Carney, and U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, joined U.S. Fish and Wildlife Regional Director Wendi Weber and state leaders to announce that the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act has finally passed in Congress. Officials delivered the good news at the DuPont Environmental Education Center on the Wilmington Riverfront.

"Passage of the DRBCA was an important accomplishment and a great bipartisan effort, but we now need to make sure that we continue to improve the health of the river and fund those efforts," Sen. Coons said.

According to officials, the critical piece of legislation helps to establish a restoration program for the Delaware River Basin within the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. This is important since the Basin serves as a source of clean drinking water for about 16-million people. It also contributes $25 billion annually in economic activity and supports roughly 600-thousand jobs from tourism and agriculture to hunting and fishing in the Delaware region.

"Delaware owes a special thanks to our Congressional Delegation for its perseverance and collaboration in getting passage of this critical legislation to improve the Delaware River Basin," said Secretary David Small of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

Delaware leaders also thanked others actively involved in helping to protect the Basin. It's said that more than eight million people live within the Delaware River Basin's boundaries.

"This new restoration program is a win for our region and will require federal, state and local partners to work together and do their part to preserve the basin for generation to come," Sen. Carper said.

Officials also noted that the DRBCA was included in the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act for the Nation which recently passed the Senate and signed into law by President Obama last month.