Plan to Connect Donovan Smith Manufactured Home Community Gets Important Conditional Approval

Donovan Smith was required to cordon off areas where wastewater surfacing has occurred and pump the sewage to mitigate further wastewater surfacing and groundwater pollution within the manufactured home community.

 

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced today plans to connect the Donovan Smith Manufactured Home Community to the Lewes Board of Public Works sewer system are proceeding following issuance of a conditional letter of approval of the state-funded loan mechanism that will provide financing for the connection.

The community owner’s lender had to sign off on the financing arrangement in order for the state-funded loan for the connection to proceed, and a conditional approval has been secured by the owner, DNREC confirmed Monday, following months of negotiation.

Donovan Smith was chosen as a pilot project for Delaware’s Clean Water Initiative for Underserved Communities – with DNREC, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, and the Delaware State Housing Authority partnering at Governor John Carney’s behest to develop a priority list for underserved communities in the state that have longtime water and wastewater issues. The combination of DNREC enforcement of wastewater regulations and financial help for Donovan Smith aims to end water pollution at the site by moving the community from septic systems to the Lewes central sewer system. The Clean Water Initiative will use the approach being piloted with Donovan Smith to institute water and wastewater improvements in other similar communities.

“There are a number of manufactured home communities in our state — especially downstate — with longtime septic issues where putting the cost of a sewer connection on the residents would be a tremendous financial burden. Finding a way to mandate the sewer connection without burdening the residents or possibly bankrupting the park — and leaving the residents without anywhere to live — is the tightrope we must walk, and which the state financing supported by Gov. Carney is making possible,” DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin said. “We are working to make a difference in the lives of these residents and in the environment, one step at a time.”

DNREC also announced it has issued a second Notice of Violation to Donovan Smith Mobile Home Park (MPH), LLC following an initial NOV issued in July. The second NOV was issued Sept. 13 after a compliance inspection and two environmental complaint investigations found multiple additional violations associated with several small onsite wastewater treatment and disposal systems within the community that were not previously addressed in the July NOV. One of the violations was a collapsing septic tank with wastewater overflowing and ponding on the grounds – with no barrier or fencing preventing human or pet contact with untreated wastewater, a significant public health hazard.

The first NOV documented the Donovan Smith MHP’s ongoing noncompliance and established deadlines for Donovan Smith to correct the problem and move forward on the sewer connection with financing from the Clean Water Initiative. According to the latest enforcement notice, although DNREC received updates from Donovan Smith concerning interim corrective actions taken, initiation of the required system pump-outs and submission of a corrective action plan did not occur within the timeframes established in the July NOV.

This second NOV cites Donovan Smith MHP for these delays, as well as additional violations that have occurred since July. And although Donovan Smith has since initiated system pump-outs and submitted a preliminary corrective action plan, this second NOV requires additional interim corrective actions. The DNREC enforcement measure also calls for amendments to the corrective action plan to address additional violations, monthly communication with the community residents on the status of corrective actions, and more rigorous inspection and reporting to mitigate additional environmental and public health concerns until the sewer connection is achieved.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Water manages and protects Delaware’s water resources. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov


DNREC to Begin Construction on Pomeroy Trail  Lighting in White Clay Creek State Park

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will begin construction this week on new lighting along the Pomeroy Trail in White Clay Creek State Park.

The $98,000 project includes installation of 11 light poles to light a roughly 1,300-foot segment of the trail, which will be consistent with lighting along the trail near North College Avenue. Once complete, the trail will provide a lit corridor between downtown Newark to the City of Newark’s Fairfield Crest Trail. 

The segment of the Pomeroy Trail that will be under construction will be closed from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, but will be accessible on nights, weekends and when work is not occurring.

Construction is expected to be completed in late October.

About DNREC

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation oversees more than 26,000 acres in 17 state parks and the Brandywine Zoo. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Shauna McVey, shauna.mcvey@delaware.gov or Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov.

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DNREC to Host Auburn Valley Master Plan Community Meeting

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will host a community meeting to discuss updates to the Auburn Valley Master Plan, including current and future recreational, residential and commercial developments that are part of the master plan area, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 17, at the Center for the Creative Arts in Yorklyn.

The division will present updates, plans and visual representations of trails, site developments, and residential and commercial projects. Attendees will also be able to view completed work, including new trails, a pavilion, a historic bridge replacement, new office and relocation of Gun Club Road from the flood plain. The public is invited to view the updates and speak with Division of Parks and Recreation staff as well as representatives from private developers at any time during the meeting.

The goals of the Master Plan are to clean up a contaminated watershed, expand public recreation opportunities, and create a vibrant and thriving community with residential, commercial and recreational aspects. Work has been ongoing for more than a decade and has included creation of Delaware’s 17th state park, Auburn Valley State Park, in a formerly industrial area.

To maintain COVID-19 safety, attendees should wear a mask and will circulate among stations with information about the master plan elements. The Center for the Creative Arts is located at 410 Upper Snuff Mill Row, Yorklyn.

In addition to the meeting, members of the public may view the master plan updates and submit comments at www.destateparks.com/AVSPmasterplan starting Sept. 17.

About DNREC

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation oversees more than 26,000 acres in 17 state parks and the Brandywine Zoo. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Shauna McVey, shauna.mcvey@delaware.gov or Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov.

 

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Governor Carney, First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney Encourage Reading This Fall

September marks Library Card Sign-up Month, Free Story Walks in each county

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney and First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney on Friday encouraged students and families to read throughout the school year by promoting the new Story Walks created in partnership with the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE), the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), the Delaware Division of Libraries and Syncretic Press, a multi-lingual book publisher based in Wilmington.

“Delaware students, families and educators worked hard this summer to make sure learning was accelerated before students went back to classrooms. This effort was capped off with the introduction of the Story Walks in our Delaware State Parks,” said Governor Carney. “One of our highest education priorities is to make sure third graders are reading at grade level. Programs like these Story Walks will help children experience reading in an interactive way in all three counties. We encourage you to check out the Story Walks and sign up for a library card if you don’t have one.”

“Language exposure is such a huge part of healthy brain development, and we’re not going to be able to tackle any of our big problems unless we address that healthy brain development for young children,” said First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney. “Bringing books to settings where kids are comfortable and that they associate with fun, like at our parks, is a great way to encourage reading.”

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The Story Walks launched on September 1 in Brandywine Park, Killen’s Pond, and Trap Pond. There is a different story featured at each park including: Noah and the Red Cat, Spanish Tortilla, and Time to Play. The book titles and installations were managed by Syncretic Press. All stories are available in English and Spanish.

“We are grateful for the State Literacy Plan funding that enabled us to partner with DNREC on this project so we can promote both reading and outdoor exercise. When families visit Delaware’s beautiful parks, we hope the story walks will provide an enjoyable opportunity to jump into a new book,” said Secretary of Education Susan Bunting. “Families can read the stories together and talk about the books with their children while they are walking. They can discuss what the characters are doing and make predictions from one story board to the next. We hope such experiences encourage reading as a family not just while at the park but also when at home. It’s our goal to create lifelong readers in the state of Delaware.”

“We are excited to host these Story Walks within Delaware State Parks and offer our visitors opportunities to read while in nature,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “The stories are fun to read and provide short literary adventures that we hope both children and adults enjoy exploring.”

“In times when everything moves so fast even when we read a story, a Book Walk allows you to pause between the pages and wonder what is coming next as you literally walk to the next page. Engaging the mind and body this way allows the reader to better savor the story and the illustrations,” said Enrique Morás, Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Syncretic Press. “We are excited to introduce these Latin American authors and illustrators to readers in Delaware. Bringing diverse perspectives on art and storytelling open up new windows of understanding, growth and tolerance in our community.”

The Delaware Division of Libraries is also promoting Library Card Sign-up Month throughout September. Individuals can sign up for a library card at delawarelibraries.org or in person at their local public library. 

“September is Library Card Sign-up Month! A library card is a school essential, and it’s free,” said Annie Norman, State Librarian and Director of the Delaware Division of Libraries. “About half of Delawareans have a library card. Register for your library card today, online or in person at your local public library.”

 

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DNREC Chester-Choptank Watershed Report Details Wetland Health and Management Recommendations

Chester-Choptank Wetland/DNREC photo

 

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has finalized a report card on the health of wetlands within the Delaware portion of the Chester-Choptank watershed, with the wetlands earning an encouraging B grade but with recommendations for improvement. Published by the DNREC Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program (WMAP), the report card covers the Chester-Choptank watershed, a combination of several watersheds, including Sassafras River, Elk River, Chester River, and Upper Choptank River. The Delaware part of the watershed resides in New Castle and Kent County, where it encompasses 113,944 acres (178 square miles) of land.

Of Delaware’s many watersheds, only the Chester-Choptank feeds into the Chesapeake Bay. During the summer of 2018, environmental scientists from the DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship collected data on the plants, hydrology and wetland buffer disturbances from 76 sites within the Delaware portion of the Chester-Choptank watershed. Using these condition assessment checklists and biological metrics, they assessed the wetlands in the watershed to be in fair condition, falling in the middle of Delaware watersheds previously rated by DNREC. The WMAP scientists found the most common stressors to the Chester-Choptank to be selective tree cutting and invasive plants; ditching for added drainage and microtopographic alterations; and channelized waterways and development.

The report found that approximately 35% of the land area of the Chester-Choptank watershed is currently covered by wetlands. WMAP performed freshwater assessments in 30 flat wetlands, 27 riverine wetlands, and 19 depression wetlands using the Delaware Rapid Assessment Procedure (DERAP) Version 6.0, a data collection method created by DNREC environmental scientists (and available for use by professionals and the public alike). No tidal wetlands were assessed because the watershed comprises a headwater region of the Chesapeake Bay, which means it is too far inland for the presence of tidal wetlands.

DNREC’s data was used to create a technical report and a more user-friendly “watershed report card” that summarized not only the health of the Chester-Choptank watershed’s wetlands, but also examined the change in wetland acreage in recent decades; what value the wetlands provide; and how recent changes in land use will impact wetlands in the future.

In assessing it, WMAP estimated that by 2007, 39% of historic wetland acreage in the watershed had been lost, mostly due to land conversion such as development. Impacts to wetland health reduce a wetland’s ability to perform fully, diminishing its valuable role in controlling flooding and erosion; improving water quality; storing excess rainwater; and providing ecosystem services for both people and wildlife.

Based on the results of this study, DNREC made recommendations targeting scientists, public decision makers and landowners toward improving and enhancing the future health of Delaware’s wetlands. These recommendations included maintaining adequate wetland buffers, restoration activities, increasing education and outreach, using best management practices, suggesting that landowners protect wetlands on their property, and improving the protection of the watershed’s non-tidal wetlands for the future.

The wetland reports by the DNREC Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program are funded by the U.S. EPA’s Region 3 Wetland Program Development. They are supported by the DNREC Nonpoint Source program, which shares data, best management practice (BMP) issues, and insight into the challenges within the Chesapeake Bay region. For more information about the Chester-Choptank watershed, please visit https://dnrec.alpha.delaware.gov/watershed-stewardship/wetlands/assessments/chester-choptank/.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship develops and implements innovative watershed assessment, monitoring and implementation activities. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Joanna Wilson, joanna.wilson@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov

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