DNREC seeks public comment and input sought for Delaware’s Phase III Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan

DOVER – The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) is seeking public comment and input for the Delaware Draft Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP), the long-range plan for reducing pollutants that enter the state’s waterways and drain into the Chesapeake Bay. Delaware is among six Chesapeake Bay Watershed jurisdictions – along with Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, and the District of Columbia – that have committed to a federal-state initiative to develop and implement an overall plan that will help restore the water quality of the Bay and its tidal waters by 2025.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is leading the effort to reduce pollution and has developed a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) that sets limits for major sources of nutrients and sediment entering the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal branches. A TMDL is the maximum amount of a pollutant that a body of water can receive and still meet water quality standards that protect humans and aquatic life. As part of the TMDL, each jurisdiction is required to develop a WIP that details specific steps to be taken to reduce nutrient and sediment and actions to maintain water quality standards in the future.

Currently, Delaware’s rivers and streams that flow into the Chesapeake Bay are burdened with pollution that depletes the health of these waterways and the Bay, and affects their productivity. Restoring water quality to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed will have far-reaching benefits for Delaware’s economic and environmental health.

Delaware remains committed to making improvements necessary for restoring our Chesapeake Bay tributaries. We continue to search for innovative ways to manage our stormwater and to improve the quality of our waterways,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “Protecting Delaware’s aquatic resources boosts our economy, provides recreational opportunities and improves overall quality of life for our citizens.”

There have been three phases of Delaware’s Chesapeake Bay WIP. Phase I and Phase II WIPs were developed and submitted to EPA in 2010 and 2012, respectively. Both the Phase I and Phase II WIPs describe actions and controls to be implemented by 2017 and 2025 to achieve applicable water quality standards. The Phase II WIP builds on the initial Phase I WIP by providing more specific local actions. Delaware met EPA requirements for both those WIP phases. The Phase III WIP has been developed based on a midpoint assessment of progress and scientific analyses. The Phase III WIP provides information on actions Delaware intends to implement between 2019 and 2025 to meet the Bay restoration goals. All three plans consider aspects of watershed management including ecological restoration, sustainability, conservation practices, stewardship, and training and outreach.

To develop Delaware‘s Draft Phase III WIP for the watershed’s future, a Phase II review and revision was led by an interagency workgroup made up of representatives from numerous stakeholder groups, including Delaware’s Department of Agriculture (DDA), Department of Transportation (DelDOT), the state’s Soil and Water Conservation districts, the University of Delaware and the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance. The draft plan identifies partners, program locations, actions, and the resources needed to reach milestones and meet implementation goals for 2025. The wide-ranging collaboration and cooperation that went into the plan continues with DNREC seeking additional public participation and input on the Draft Phase III WIP.

Public comments will be accepted from April 12 through DNREC close of business (4:30 p.m.), Friday, June 7, by time-stamped email to DNREC_DelawareCBWIP@delaware.gov, or by US Postal Service mail postmarked no later than June 7 to: Attn. Chesapeake WIP, DNREC Nonpoint Source Program, 100 Water Street, Suite 6B, Dover, DE 19904.

More information about the Phase III WIP can be found on the DNREC website. Download a draft of Delaware’s Draft Chesapeake Bay Phase III WIP. Provide comments and input, using an online form.