Delaware releases draft plan for local efforts for cleaner Chesapeake Bay

by Dave on September 1, 2010

Delaware’s draft long-range plan for reducing pollutants from entering local waterways that lie within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed– was posted today on the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s (DNREC) website and made available for public review.

Delaware’s draft Watershed Implementation Plan (Phase I) was also submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, meeting the EPA’s deadline of September 1. Delaware is among six Chesapeake Bay Watershed states – Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York – and the District of Columbia committed to a federal-state initiative to develop a pollution “diet” that will help restore the water quality of the Bay and its tidal waters by 2025, with 60 percent of the work to be completed by 2017.

The public is invited to attend an EPA workshop to be held in early October to learn more and ask questions of the EPA and Delaware. In addition, DNREC is offering to meet with interested organizations before Oct. 30 to explain and review the draft. Written public comments will also be accepted through Oct. 30.

“Restoring water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and in its network of local rivers, streams, creeks and wetlands will have far-reaching benefits for Delaware’s economic and environmental health,” said Governor Jack Markell. “Delaware’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed supports thousands of jobs, generates significant economic activity and provides valuable goods and services.”

A recently released report by the University of Delaware Water Resources Agency estimates that Delaware’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed is directly or indirectly responsible for more than 47,000 jobs, contributes roughly $1 billion in annual economic activity, and provides at least $3.1 billion annually in natural goods and services – drinking water and irrigation supply, agriculture, wetlands, habitat, forests and recreation.

Almost 35 percent of Delaware lies within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and includes land in all three counties. Approximately one-half of Sussex County, about one-third of Kent County and about 10 percent of New Castle County drain into the rivers, creeks and agricultural ditches that eventually drain into the Chesapeake Bay.

The Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries are being polluted when excess nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment enter our groundwater and drain to waterways. Sources of pollution include: residential and agricultural fertilizers; stormwater runoff, which includes gas and oil from roads and parking lots; erosion and sediment; wastewater treatment plants; and manure from poultry and livestock.

“Delaware is making steady progress in meeting our 2-year milestone goals by implementing a number of key best management practices that will reduce pollutants from entering our waterways,” said Delaware Department of Natural Resources Secretary Collin P. O’Mara. “We are making significant environmental gains in land management, habitat restoration, and watershed protection – working to improve water quality in Delaware’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. In the past few years, more than 23,000 acres of cover crops (wheat, barley and rye) have been planted, 286 acres of wetlands restored, 100 acres of trees planted, and more than 2,220 acres of forest buffers installed that reduce erosion and pollutants – all in an effort to clean up our waterways.”

By September 24, EPA will announce the Chesapeake Bay Watershed’s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) – the pollution limits for nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment for waterways within each of the watershed states. TMDL is the calculation of the maximum amount of pollution a body of water can receive and still meet federal and state water quality standards for a safe, swimmable and fishable waterway.

The Bay TMDL will require Delaware and all watershed states to significantly reduce pollutants from entering Chesapeake waterways.
Delaware Department of Agriculture Secretary Ed Kee said. “I recognize the effort and commitment of the Delaware agricultural community to be great stewards of the land and our water resources. We have a long history of utilizing best management practices (manure management, no-till methods, vegetative filter strips and buffers, cover crops, water management control structures, etc.) in our stewardship efforts. When science dictated that we needed to enhance our nutrient management efforts for not only nitrogen, but also phosphorus and sediments, the agricultural community in Delaware stepped to the plate in 2001 with the implementation of a nationally recognized nutrient management program that has had significant beneficial impact on the overall nutrient loading in our waterways. We will continue to be an active partner in the eco-restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and will continue to search for science based solutions that will benefit all.”

As part of the EPA TMDL, Delaware developed the draft Phase I WIP detailing how the state will reduce excess pollutants and implement Delaware’s portion of the pollution “diet.” The WIP was developed by a workgroup comprised of representatives from: the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control; Delaware Department of Agriculture; Delaware Nutrient Management Commission; the Delaware Farm Bureau; the Delaware Home Builders Association; Department of Transportation; Office of State Planning Coordination; County Conservation Districts; University of Delaware; U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies; U.S. Geological Survey; and other stakeholders. Eight subcommittees were formed to address: agriculture; stormwater; wastewater; land use and comprehensive plans; restoration; public lands; funding and information technology.

The state’s draft Phase I WIP includes a description of actions to achieve the reductions and maintain them into the future. This information will be used to set pollution reduction targets by geographic area and source – agriculture, urban runoff, septic systems, wastewater treatment facilities and others– for the final Phase I WIP. In addition, Delaware will have to demonstrate accountability in meeting the TMDL and improving water quality in the watershed by achieving 2-year milestone goals.

EPA will hold a public workshop on the Chesapeake TMDL and the draft Delaware Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m., Monday, Oct. 11 at the Owens Campus of Delaware Technical and Community College in Georgetown. The public is encouraged to attend the meeting to learn more and ask questions of EPA and Delaware.

In addition, DNREC is offering to meet with interested organizations before Oct. 30 to explain and review the draft TMDL and WIP. To request a meeting or to provide comments on the draft plan, contact Jennifer Volk at or 302-739-9939.
The final Delaware WIP is due to the EPA by November 29, 2010. EPA expects to establish the final Chesapeake Bay TMDL by December 31, 2010.

The following documents are posted at Delaware’s draft Watershed Implementation Plan (Phase I); Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs); Delaware’s 2009-2011 Milestone Goals; Accomplishments, Initiatives and Funding to meet Delaware’s Milestone Goals; and University of Delaware Water Resources Agency’s 2010 Report on the Socioeconomic Value of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed in Delaware.

For information on EPA’s TMDL visit

release from DNREC

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