DNREC, DPH Announce Bethany Crest Water System’s Finished Water is Safe for Drinking and Cooking

Samples Show Ion Exchange Treatment Reduces PFAS Concentrations

Results from samples taken from the water system serving residents of the Bethany Crest community near Millville returned test results that were below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Health Advisory Level (HAL) of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFAS in drinking water. Residents may resume normal use of the water, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) and Division of Public Health (DPH) announced today.

Following a sampling that found the source water from Bethany Crest water system (before treatment) was near or at the HAL, DNREC and DPH acted quickly to sample the finished drinking water (after treatment) going to residents.

Samples taken by DNREC showed that an ion exchange treatment that had already been in place for the Bethany Crest water system had been successful in removing PFAS from the community’s drinking water. Out of an abundance of caution, DPH had advised Bethany Crest residents to use bottled water provided by the water system owner for drinking and cooking while the finished water samples were being tested.

Testing results from an Oct. 23 sampling for PFAS in the Bethany Crest water system showed that the ion exchange treatment had removed PFAS to significantly below the health advisory level of 70 ppt. The results also indicated that while other wells and public water in the area sampled within a one-mile radius of Bethany Crest showed PFAS detections, all were below the EPA health advisory level.

Bethany Crest is a manufactured housing community with a small water system serving approximately 50 homes. The sampling of source water was collected as part of a proactive screening of public water sources throughout the state being conducted by DNREC.

DPH is continuing to work with the system owner to identify long-term strategies that can be implemented to ensure the risk to residents does not increase in the future.

Meanwhile, DNREC’s Remediation section conducted an assessment to identify potential sources of the contamination, and DNREC will open an investigation immediately into locating the source or sources of the PFAS detected in the Bethany Crest water system.

PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals used in industry and consumer products. Due to their extensive use in these products over time, PFAS are found in people, wildlife, and fish and are known as “forever chemicals” because some PFAS can stay in people’s bodies a long time and cause health problems with long-term exposure.

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. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts:

DNREC: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov, DPH: Andrea Wojcik, andrea.wojcik@delaware.gov

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New ELA course helps students enter credit-bearing college courses

Students who fare well in a new high school English course are guaranteed to enter credit-bearing English classes at Delaware colleges and universities.

The Foundations of College English course was developed through funding from Strada Education Network in partnership with the Delaware Department of Education and Delaware institutions of higher education (see below) to reduce college remediation rates. This course was designed to complement the Foundations of College Math course which was developed and launched in 2014.

Of all Delaware public high school graduates who enter an in-state college or university, 41 percent require remedial education courses in mathematics or English, according to the state’s 2017 College Success Report. About 24 percent require remedial coursework in English. Students who do not score well on college placement tests may be forced to take remedial English courses prior to enrolling in credit bearing coursework. These non-credit, remedial courses often cost the same as credit-bearing classes but don’t count toward a student’s degree.

The Foundations of College English was piloted in fall 2016 across six high schools as part of the state-model Allied Health career & technical education program of study. Schools identify students for the foundations course based on their PSAT and SAT scores. And the Foundations of College English course was then offered to students as an elective course to ensure all students are able to pursue continuing education without the need for remediation.

Participating pilot schools include: Appoquinimink School District’s Appoquinimink and Middletown High Schools; Indian River School District’s Indian River and Sussex Central High Schools; Milford School District’s Milford High School; and Smyrna School District’s Smyrna High School. Any public high school can offer the class next year.

“Students graduate high school ready to start their college careers. Being forced to take non-credit courses delays their start to earn a degree while adding to their college debts,” Governor John Carney said. “This collaboration between our public schools and Delaware’s colleges and universities aims to help our youth complete postsecondary education on time and with less debt so they can begin their careers in Delaware’s workforce.”

Carney joined Secretary of Education Susan Bunting today at Milford High School, one of the pilot sites. They talked to educators and students about their experiences in the course.

“Earning a college degree is challenging enough without the extra barriers created by remedial coursework. We must prepare our graduates for the rigor of college coursework,” Bunting said. “Offering the Foundations of College English is another way to support our students to ensure they not only enter college but also leave with valuable degrees.”

A U.S. Department of Education study found that less than half of students in remedial courses actually complete them, and only 17 percent of remedial reading students and 27 percent of remedial math students completing their bachelor’s degrees.

“Too many students today begin postsecondary education and never finish. We must find new ways to help students overcome obstacles, such as time spent in remedial courses, so they gain the necessary credentials to compete and succeed in a modern, global workforce,” said Bill Hansen, president and CEO of Strada and former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education. “I’m encouraged to see the State of Delaware scale this innovative approach to ensure students have the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in work and in life.”

The Foundations of College English course was designed by Delaware Technical Community College. A series of online modules also were created to supplement the course and/or to be embedded in other English language arts coursework for junior or senior high school students.

Students who earn a 75 percent or better in the Foundations of College English course are guaranteed entry into credit-bearing English language arts coursework at Goldey Beacom College, Delaware State University, Delaware Technical Community College, University of Delaware, Wesley College and Wilmington University.

 

Media contact: Alison May, alison.may@doe.k12.de.us, 302-735-4006


DNREC announces availability of $133,528 for Community Environmental Project Fund projects

Public workshops set for Sept. 7 and 13 on CEPF grant process

DOVER – Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn M. Garvin today announced the availability of $133,528 for Community Environmental Project Fund (CEPF) grants administered by the Department. The CEPF grant program was created in 2004 by House Bill 192, legislation that enables DNREC to withhold 25 percent of all civil or administrative penalties collected by the Department as CEPF funds.

HB 192 requires that CEPF funds benefit communities where civil or administrative violations occurred. The CEPF provides for community restoration by funding environmental projects that reduce pollution, enhance natural resources, and enhance them for purposes of creating recreational opportunities for the citizens of Delaware.

IRS tax-exempt organizations are eligible for grants up to $20,000. Non-profit organizations which do not have tax-exempt status, but have established a Fiscal Sponsor Agreement with an IRS tax-exempt organization, are eligible to apply for a maximum grant amount of $10,000. Applications for CEPF grants can be found on the DNREC website or can be obtained by calling James Brunswick, DNREC community ombudsman, at 302-739-9140. The CEPF grant application deadline is Monday Oct. 2, by DNREC’s close of business (4:30 p.m.)

DNREC also will hold two public workshops about the CEPF grant program on Sept. 6 and 13. Date, time and location for the workshops are:

  • New Castle County: Wednesday, Sept. 6, 6-7:30 p.m., DNREC Offices, Conference Room A, 391 Lukens Drive, New Castle, DE 19720
  • Kent and Sussex Counties: Wednesday, Sept. 13, 6-7:30 p.m., DNREC Auditorium, Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover DE 19901

Pre-registration is requested, but not required. Please email James Brunswick, Community Ombudsman, or call 302-739-9040 to pre-register. For an application form and more information visit: dnrec.alpha.delaware.gov/community-services/environmental-project-fund/

Vol. 47, No. 194

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Open house on Auburn Valley Master Plan will be held April 18

DOVER – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation will host a public open house to enable the public to comment on the latest update of the Auburn Valley Master Plan, which outlines proposed strategies for the former NVF site in Yorklyn and surrounding areas.

The open house will be held from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on Monday, April 18, at the Center for Creative Arts, 410 Upper Snuff Mill Row, Yorklyn, DE 19736.

In 2011, DNREC worked with the community and several partners to create the Auburn Valley Master Plan, a unified vision for Yorklyn and its surrounding areas. That version of the master plan outlined several options for redevelopment of the former NVF site and showed conceptual trail connections to the surrounding community.

Since then, DNREC has continued to work with partners and neighboring properties on designs and refinements of key components of the plan, and is now ready to solicit comments from the public at the open house.

Visitors at the open house are invited to view the proposed plan and provide comments to DNREC program staff.
For more information on the open house, contact Matt Chesser, Division of Parks & Recreation, 302-739-9235 or matthew.chesser@delaware.gov.

Media Contact: Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No.124


K12, Higher Education Partner in Delaware to Reduce College Remediation Rates

More than half of Delaware public school graduates who enrolled in in-state colleges in 2012 were placed in remedial courses, according to data released by the Delaware Department of Education today. College remediation is a national problem, but one that higher education and K-12 officials are tackling together in Delaware.

Gov. Jack Markell and Secretary of Education Mark Murphy were joined by higher education leaders at Laurel High School this afternoon to share the data. They also visited students from a pilot math course, which aims to ensure students graduate ready to enter credit-bearing math courses in college.

“Students who require remedial classes in college increase their overall cost of attendance by taking classes that do not count toward graduation,” Markell said. “As college costs continue to rise, we must ensure our colleges and universities are partnering with our public schools to ensure students are focusing on courses that will help them graduate on time and prepare them for the workforce.”

Remedial courses are classes for students who are deemed not ready for college-level work. Students are placed in remedial courses based on scores on college placement tests and/or their SAT scores. Remedial courses do not provide credits toward a degree, but students still must pay tuition – or use financial aid – for them.

A U.S. Department of Education study found that less than half of students in remedial courses actually complete them with only 17 percent of remedial reading students and 27 percent of remedial math students completing their bachelor’s degrees.

“For our children to have the best chance to complete their degrees, we must ensure they are on the path to earning their degrees when they pay their first tuition bills. That means we must ensure they arrive at college prepared for that work,” Murphy said.

This fall three schools in the state – Brandywine School District’s Concord High School, Laurel School District’s Laurel High School and Woodbridge School District’s Woodbridge High School – are piloting the Foundations of College Math course, which was developed with the assistance of Delaware higher education professors. Delaware’s colleges and universities have guaranteed those students who successfully complete the course will not be required to take remedial math courses in college.

“The Foundations of College Math course is an example of the types of innovation that stem from partnership between K-12 and higher education institutions. We look forward to building upon this work and bridging the gap between high school and college for Delaware students,” said Shana Payne, director of the Department of Education’s Higher Education Office.

Delaware’s data also shows that remediation, like college enrollment, is an equity issue. Last year’s release of the College Going Diagnostic showed that only 27 percent of students from low-income backgrounds who were college-ready enrolled in college, with similar trends for black and Hispanic students.

The remediation data shows that even when those students enroll, they are facing higher remediation rates than their peers.  Remediation rates are highest among students who are black, Hispanic and those who are English language learners and from low-income families and those with special needs. These high remediation rates translate into low college completion rates and increased college costs, which ultimately limit these students’ potential to succeed and contribute to the state’s economy.

The state has several efforts underway to address the problem.  In addition to the Foundations of College Math course pilot, the state is working to increase access to and success in college-level courses in high school. More than 85 percent of Delaware graduates who scored a 3 or higher on the 5-point Advanced Placement exams were able to enroll in college-level courses when they entered Delaware public colleges in 2012. Only 31 percent of students who did not take AP courses were able to do so.

“By increasing access to AP classes – as well as International Baccalaureate and dual-enrollment courses – we can help more students avoid remediation,” Murphy said.

Also key to better preparing students for college work are the Common Core State Standards, which the state adopted in 2010. Last year was the first year of full implementation across Delaware. The Common Core State Standards promote college readiness by establishing the skills every student should master by the time he or she graduates from high school. High-quality implementation of the Common Core State Standards will support Delaware students’ abilities to enter college, complete degrees and succeed in careers.

The state also is encouraging Delaware’s institutes of higher education to look to national best practices to curb remediation rates, such as using score ranges rather than a single cut score to place students in courses and aligning math courses with students’ college majors.

The analysis released today provides breakdowns by the high schools from which students graduated and the Delaware colleges in which they enrolled. Find that information here.