DNREC Dives Into National Water Quality Month

Passage of Clean Water for Delaware Act, Clean Water Initiative
for Underserved Communities are Reasons for Celebration

As the calendar turns to August, Delaware recognizes National Water Quality Month on a tide of momentum from Governor Carney’s signing of the Clean Water for Delaware Act, hailed as landmark legislation for reviving many of the state’s waterways and ensuring all Delawareans have access to clean water.

The act is buoyed by a new $50 million Clean Water Trust to fund drinking and wastewater projects across the state, and supports the Clean Water Initiative for Underserved Communities that will enable the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control through its environmental justice mission to work toward achieving clean water for all Delawareans.

DNREC will also celebrate the completion of the Lewes Canal project, a joint effort to enhance an existing living shoreline. A method of shoreline stabilization and protection for wetlands, living shorelines absorb storm energy and protect property while reducing the potential for shoreline erosion issues. They also improve water quality by removing nitrogen that can cause algae blooms that are detrimental both to human health and aquatic life.

In addition, DNREC launched an interactive, online quiz about water quality. Anyone can test how attuned they are to the critical role water has in every aspect of human life – including the importance of drinking water and the proper treatment of wastewater. Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which initiated National Water Quality Month in 2005 – linked to the passage three decades earlier of the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act – offers water education resources that include a drinking water activities website for students and teachers.

Water Quality Month provides the opportunity to learn just how precious water is for survival, and how much we should value it for sustaining human life – with only about 3% of the world’s water being freshwater, and just 1% of that freshwater potable or drinkable.

DNREC wants the public to know that everyone can help the state achieve the water quality standard for clean water and safe drinking water that all Delawareans deserve. The DNREC Division of Water section recommends taking the following actions to help improve the state’s water quality:

  • Properly store, use and dispose of chemicals and hazardous liquids (thus keeping them out of the water supply)
  • Properly maintain your septic system
  • Properly dispose of your outdated medications at a take-back event
  • Test your soil to determine if fertilizers are needed
  • Reduce use of lawn fertilizers and herbicides and pesticides, especially when rainstorms are imminent, and consider fertilizing with an alternative such as compost or compost tea
  • Volunteer for a community or statewide cleanup
  • Use rain barrels to collect rainfall for watering your lawn and garden
  • Start a rain garden that will thrive with little need of watering
  • Wash your car at commercial car wash locations where wash water is collected for proper disposal

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 contact: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov or Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov


Governor Carney Signs Clean Water for Delaware Act

Legislation Highlighted by $50 Million Clean Water Trust, Water Resources Funding for Underserved Communities

LEWES, Del. –  Governor John Carney on Thursday signed into law House Bill 200, the Clean Water for Delaware Act, which creates a new Clean Water Trust to protect Delaware waterways and rebuild Delaware’s drinking water infrastructure with a focus on underserved communities.

HB 200, sponsored by House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, establishes a framework for assessing needs and planning to implement projects that support Delaware’s longstanding efforts to improve the quality of the state’s water supply and waterways. The Act also calls for creating the Delaware Clean Water Trust and is supported by $50 million in the fiscal year 2022 budget as a funding source for water quality and water-related projects, giving it the financial clout that previous efforts at passing clean water legislation lacked.

“All Delawareans deserve clean water. The Clean Water for Delaware Act and our new Clean Water Trust will help us deliver on that promise,” said Governor Carney. “This legislation and unprecedented investment, which had bipartisan support, will help us protect our waterways for future generations of Delawareans, and upgrade our infrastructure to make sure all Delaware families have access to clean drinking water. Thank you to Representative Longhurst, Senator Townsend, the Delaware Nature Society and all the advocates who have worked on this issue for years.”

“In Delaware, the quality of our water resources is directly linked to the health and vibrancy of our communities up and down the state. Whether it’s water and wastewater infrastructure to support smart development in New Castle County, the needs of our agricultural industry downstate, or the challenges our coastal communities face with flooding and sea level rise, so much falls under the banner of clean water in Delaware,” said House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst. “My goal with the Clean Water for Delaware Act was to create an innovative new program to fund projects that would tackle water quality challenges on many fronts. We will help to right the wrongs of the past and, perhaps most importantly, we will set Delaware on a path to a future where people from all walks of life can enjoy the beauty and splendor of our streams, rivers, lakes and beaches.”

For the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Delaware Health and Social Services and other state agencies, the Clean Water for Delaware Act goes much deeper into managing the state’s water resources. It spans numerous water quality programs whose funding will be supported by the Clean Water Trust, including infrastructure for drinking water, stormwater and wastewater, and covering programs for drainage, waterway management and beach preservation, and many other water-related projects funded by separate state and federal resources among them the conservation reserve enhancement program, conservation cost-sharing and tax ditches.

One of the major environmental openings is the Act’s support of the Governor’s Clean Water Initiative for Underserved Communities that is part of DNREC’s work with the state’s low-income, underserved communities. The initiative, which was announced today, can be found here.

“I want to recognize Carney, Representative Longhurst and the entire General Assembly, and all stakeholders for their support in giving DNREC additional tools to help the state realize the goal of Clean Water for all Delawareans,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “With this legislation, through the Clean Water Trust, we will be able to bring more resources to bear and more partners to the table to address the water challenges of our state. And though the Governor’s Clean Water Initiative, state agencies, particularly DHSS and DNREC, are in a position to lift those who until now might have been thwarted by circumstances, costs or lack of community governance structure from their right to safe drinking water and proper wastewater treatment.”

The Act also contains a passage that “it is important that priorities for clean water projects in this State be given to projects that utilize green infrastructure and enhancement of natural systems to provide ecological benefits that improve water quality, demonstrate a high ratio of nutrient or pollution reduction to the amount of funding, and improve of community resilience to extreme weather, sea level rise, and other climate impacts.” And language for creating of the Clean Water Trust is explicit that “Existing federal and State funding resources alone are inadequate to meeting the State’s current and future demand for clean water projects.”

“House Bill 200 and the new clean water funding investments are a game changer for Delaware,” said Delaware Nature Society Interim Executive Director Joanne McGeoch. “Clean water is critical to Delaware’s environment, wildlife, economy, food supply, and public health. HB 200 will ensure that this vital resource is protected today and for future generations.”

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DNREC Issues Notice of Violation to Donovan Smith Mobile Home Park, LLC

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control issued a Notice of Violation today to the Donovan Smith Mobile Home Park, LLC in Lewes for ongoing violations of the state’s laws governing wastewater treatment and disposal systems. The manufactured home community’s onsite wastewater treatment system was found by DNREC to be out of compliance thus posing risks to public health and the environment. The surfacing wastewater poses public health exposure concerns and contributes to groundwater pollution. Routine monitoring of the onsite drinking water system shows that thus far the community drinking water wells have not been impacted by the ongoing wastewater compliance issues. With the NOV, DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin issued the following statement:

“This action follows several months of work to document the ongoing onsite wastewater treatment and disposal violations at the Donovan Smith Manufactured Home Community. It sets enforceable deadlines to fix the issue for residents in this community and push the improved sewer connection project forward, the first project under an important plan to address wastewater and drinking water issues in underserved communities throughout Delaware.”

DNREC has been working with the Department of Health and Social Services and the Delaware Housing Authority to develop a priority list for underserved communities that have water and wastewater issues. The project for Donovan Smith Manufactured Home Community aims to end water pollution at the site by eventually tying the community’s wastewater discharge into the city of Lewes central sewer system. The NOV documents ongoing noncompliance at the manufactured home community and establishes deadlines for Donovan Smith MHP, LLC to correct the problem and move forward on the sewer connection with financing from the underserved communities initiative administered by DNREC and DHSS.

To eliminate risks to public health and the environment, the NOV calls for interim actions including cordoning off areas where wastewater surfacing has occurred in the manufactured home community, and a mandatory pumping of the community septic system to mitigate further wastewater surfacing and groundwater pollution within the community while Donovan Smith moves toward the sewer connection working with the city of Lewes Board of Public Works.

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

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Free Webinar on June 29 Features Coastal Restoration Toolkit

A toolkit developed by Restore America’s Estuaries helps communities launch a coastal restoration project and is the topic of a free webinar, presented by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, in partnership with the Delaware Living Shores Committee, on Tuesday, June 29.

The Coastal Restoration Toolkit was developed to provide high‐level, introductory educational information for community members on how to develop a coastal restoration project from concept to proposal. The toolkit is a launching point for developing solutions to coastal restoration opportunities that community members see in their local areas.

Speakers for the webinar will include Hilary Stevens, coastal resilience manager, and Elsa Schwartz, senior director of restoration and administration, for Restore America’s Estuaries.

This webinar is part of an ongoing virtual series presented by the Delaware Living Shores Committee, a working group dedicated to facilitating the understanding, peer review and implementation of living shoreline tactics within the state. DNREC’s participation is represented by the Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program and the Delaware Coastal Training Program.

For more information, visit Delaware Living Shorelines at delawarelivingshorelines.org. Registration and information is also available on the DNREC events and meetings calendar at de.gov/DNRECmeetings.

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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Downstate Public Ponds to Be Treated for Invasive Aquatic Weed Hydrilla

With inland water temperatures rising and aquatic plants emerging, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will be treating certain downstate public ponds for the nuisance aquatic weed hydrilla, starting the week of May 24, 2021. Hydrilla is a non-native, invasive plant that likely entered the state through the aquarium trade. Uncontrolled hydrilla can choke ponds and other waterways, crowding out beneficial plant species and preventing fishing and boating access.

Ponds to be treated this year are Millsboro Pond, Tub Mill Pond and Abbotts Mill Pond near Milford, and Wagamons Pond in Milton. Signs will be posted at the boat ramp of each pond on the day of treatment.

Sonar, an aquatic herbicide containing fluridone, will be used to treat the ponds for hydrilla. Sonar is registered and approved for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It has been used in Delaware since the 1980s and has proven to be environmentally-compatible and effective for controlling hydrilla. Sonar does not pose a threat to wildlife, including fish, and there are no restrictions on fishing or consumption of fish after these treatments.

The only restriction is water from the treated ponds should not be used for irrigation for 30 days after the date of treatment. Residents and farmers along and directly downstream of treated ponds should not use the water to irrigate their gardens, yards or agricultural lands during that period to avoid possible damage to their plantings. Landowners with permits to use water from these ponds will be directly notified before treatment.

To prevent the spread of hydrilla and other invasive aquatic vegetation, anglers and boaters are encouraged to remove all hydrilla and other aquatic plants from their boats, trailers and gear before leaving boat ramp areas.

For additional information, contact the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife at 302-739-9914.

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 Fish and Wildlife conserves and manages Delaware’s fish and wildlife and their habitats, and provides fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and boating access on nearly 65,000 acres of public land. 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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