DNREC Young Environmentalists of the Year Announced at Delaware State Fair

Governor John Carney and DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin give Charli Evans, center, a big thumbs-up
as DNREC’s Elementary School Young Environmentalist of the Year at the Delaware State Fair.
DNREC photo.

Today at the Delaware State Fair in Harrington, a group of dedicated Delaware students were honored for their work to protect, restore or enhance our state’s natural resources as Governor John Carney and DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin announced this year’s recipients of the DNREC Young Environmentalists of the Year Awards.

“Every Delawarean, no matter their age, can have an impact in protecting and conserving our natural resources, while also raising awareness for environmental stewardship. At ages 7 to 16, these young people have taken a stand as environmental advocates who are already making a difference today for a better tomorrow,” said Secretary Garvin. “We are inspired by the award winners’ dedication to making our state a better place to live through their time and talents, and we look forward to seeing what they will do in the years to come.”

Elementary School:

  •  Charli Rose Evans, age 7, of Laurel, practices self-sustaining farming techniques, growing food for her family and saving the seeds to replant her garden, which also helps feed her chickens, ducks and goats. Charli even makes her own garden fertilizer by composting food waste to mix with manure from her animals.

Middle School:

  •  Lilyan Farris, age 10, of Bridgeville, is dedicated to “reduce, reuse and recycle” to help children in need by collecting and cleaning used books, board games, puzzles, art supplies and bicycles. Lilyan has kept more than 3,000 books out of landfills to stock little free libraries and rescued 25 bicycles last year for an organization that collects and fixes up used bikes.
  •  Catherine Shapiro, age 14, of Wilmington, is a student leader in Springer Middle School’s Energy Club, with activities including conducting a school energy audit, organizing an eco-event, advocating water conservation and carbon footprint reduction, and surveying biodiversity and pollinators.

High School:

  •  Noor Boukari, age 16, of Dover, advocates for sustainability, conducted an award-winning study on bee population decline and received national recognition for her panel discussion and interviews on “Women and Green Futures” at Social Builders US.
  • Maisie Donohue, age 15, of Wilmington, is an environmental activist who is passionate about climate change education and environmentally friendly diets. Maisie served on the YES! Committee to plan a youth summit for 1,000 students in February and is an accomplished public speaker and budding lobbyist, participating in events such the University of Delaware’s Youth Climate Strike last fall.

Now in its 27th year, DNREC’s Young Environmentalist of the Year Awards program recognizes Delaware students whose actions have helped protect, restore or enhance our natural resources by initiating an innovative project, practicing environmental stewardship, increasing public awareness or demonstrating environmental ethics. For more information, visit dnrec.alpha.delaware.gov/young-environmentalists.

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 DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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


Public invited to vote online through June 9 for best artwork in DNREC-sponsored rain barrel contests

DOVER – The public’s art appreciation is sought in voting for favorite entries now online in the 2017 artistic rain barrel contest sponsored by DNREC’s Watershed Assessment and Management Section within the Division of Watershed Stewardship. DNREC sponsors the contest as a fun way to educate the community on the benefits of using rain barrels to reduce stormwater runoff and improve water quality.

Photo of winning painted rain barrel
The winning adult artistic rain barrel in DNREC’s 2016 contest.

Eight local artists and 10 entries from youth or groups of young people were selected to paint creative designs on their rain barrels. Online voting continues through Friday, June 9 for selecting this year’s winning rain barrel artworks.

DNREC chose the artists based on their applications and designs. After being selected, the artists had five weeks to paint and return their barrels. All artistic rain barrels in this year’s contests are now on display for public viewing at the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village in Dover through July 18.

Five adult finalists and five youth finalists will be determined by online voting. The five student finalists will have their rain barrels displayed to be voted on by Delaware State Fair visitors for determining the grand prize winner, while the adult grand prize winner will be chosen by a panel of judges. Results for the youth rain barrel contest will be announced, and the grand prize winner of the adult contest will be recognized, on Governor’s Day (Thursday, July 27) at the fair.

Following the contest, the artistic rain barrels will be dispersed for display at local events, businesses, schools, churches and with local governments. Businesses, organizations and non-profit groups interested in displaying an artist’s rain barrel, please contact Sara Wozniak at mailto:sara.wozniak@delaware.govor 302-382-0335.

Rain barrels are used to collect and store water from roofs and downspouts for future uses such as watering lawns, gardens, and house plants; cleaning off gardening tools; and washing your car. Rain barrels are also important for the environment because they help reduce water pollution by decreasing the amount of stormwater runoff reaching Delaware’s streams and rivers.

Media contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 47, No. 128


Delaware artists invited to apply for DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship’s rain barrel painting contest now through March 17

DOVER – DNREC’s Division of Watershed Stewardship is now accepting applications from Delaware artists for participation in a rain barrel painting contest aimed at educating Delawareans on the benefits of using rain barrels to reduce rainwater runoff and improve water quality. Artists selected will be invited to paint creative designs on rain barrels that will be prominently displayed in public areas.

To enter the contest, adult artists must complete and submit an application by Friday, March 17, which includes providing a description and preliminary sketch of their design. Watershed Stewardship staff will choose participants in the contest based on their application and design ideas. Once contest participants have been selected, they will have five weeks to finish their barrel painting and submit final photographs and information requested.

Participating artists must be willing to give of their time and must provide materials, including paint and brushes or other application tools, an interpretation of their work and a short biography. In exchange, DNREC’s Watershed Assessment and Management Section will provide a fully-assembled 55-gallon plastic rain barrel with two coats of primer applied, plus cans of clear top coat. This year’s barrels have been donated by Tidewater Utilities, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Coca-Cola.

Photos of the finished rain barrels will be posted online for public voting at www.delawarewatersheds.org. The barrels also will be displayed at the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village in Dover from May 31 through July 19. Five finalists will be chosen by online voting at www.delawarewatersheds.org. All five finalists will receive prizes. A professional judging panel will choose the grand prize winner, whose barrel will be displayed at the DNREC Building at the 2017 Delaware State Fair. The winner will also participate in Governor’s Day, Thursday, July 27 at the fair. The winning barrel will then be displayed in a prominent location to be determined.

Applications can be found at www.delawarewatersheds.org. Completed applications and sketches should be emailed to sara.wozniak@delaware.gov or sent by close of business March 17 to:
DNREC Watershed Assessment and Management Section
C/O Sara Wozniak
2430 Old County Road
Newark, DE 19702

For more information, please contact Sara Wozniak at sara.wozniak@delaware.gov or 302-382-0335.

What is a Rain Barrel?
A rain barrel is a container that collects and stores water from roofs and downspouts for uses such as watering lawns, gardens, and house plants; cleaning off gardening tools; and washing your car. Rain barrels help lower your water bills, particularly in the summer months by collecting thousands of gallons of water a year. Rain barrels are also important for our environment because they help reduce water pollution by decreasing the amount of stormwater runoff reaching our streams and rivers. An average rainfall of one inch within a 24-hour period can produce more than 700 gallons of water that run off a typical house. This stormwater runoff picks up anything on the ground such as litter, excess fertilizer, pet waste, and motor oil, transporting it to storm drains that dump the untreated water directly into our waterways.

Media contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.

Vol. 47, No. 48


DNREC Secretary urges wise water use and conservation as drought conditions continue in northern Delaware

DOVER– With little yield of precipitation during the current stretch of weather – particularly unseasonable warmth as recently experienced in northern New Castle County and adjacent southeastern Pennsylvania – DNREC Secretary David Small reminds Delawareans that water conservation practices are a year-round action contributing to the continued good health of the state’s water supplies. This mindset is particularly important in northern New Castle County, where large numbers of Delawareans rely on several surface water streams and reservoirs for their public water supplies. These streams rely in large part on rainfall in watersheds extending from Delaware into southeastern Pennsylvania.

“Conserving water in any number of ways whenever possible can help offset the lack of rainfall for northern Delaware and watersheds in adjacent southeastern Pennsylvania, and will help maintain existing water supply levels,” Secretary Small said. “Our water supply is a precious natural and economic resource; and is a resource which Delaware residents have a direct influence on preserving through conservation-minded water use.”

Water conditions for northern Delaware were reported Nov. 21 during a teleconference with northern New Castle County water utilities. All utilities reported that demands were seasonally normal and that there is sufficient water supply at this time as demands are at their lowest of the year. “The water supply is sufficient because of investments in storage in northern Delaware made by water purveyors over the past decade,” said John Barndt, DNREC Water Supply Section program manager. Still, he noted that the Delaware Geological Survey reported that stream flows in northern New Castle County remain very low, and groundwater there continues declining toward below-normal levels. DNREC’s Water Supply Section has called an emergency meeting of the state’s Water Supply Coordinating Council for Tuesday, Dec. 13 to discuss and assess the state’s water supply and how current conditions are affecting it.

Eastern Pennsylvania, much of New Jersey, and western New York are experiencing drought conditions that prompted the Delaware River Basin Commission, comprising those three states and Delaware, to vote unanimously today to declare a basin-wide drought watch effective immediately. The DRBC resolution behind the drought watch called for encouraging all residents and business users of basin water supplies “to maximize water efficiency to preserve and protect the basin’s water supplies.” The resolution can be found on the DRBC website.

Delaware State Climatologist Dan Leathers emphasized that the primary concern for northern Delaware is the deficit in precipitation experienced in the headwaters of the Christina River Basin, including the Red Clay, White Clay and Brandywine Creek watersheds. During the last six months, only 75 to 90 percent of normal precipitation has fallen across these watersheds, with the northern portion of each watershed experiencing even greater deficits of 50 to 75 percent of normal precipitation. In addition, during the last six months the temperature in the Christina Basin has averaged 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, making it the warmest such period since 1948. The high temperatures have increased evaporation and transpiration, worsening northern Delaware’s dry conditions.

DNREC Secretary Small noted that reservoirs in northern Delaware, interconnections between the public water systems, and use of aquifer storage and recovery and other enhancements were designed to allow northern Delaware to be more resilient to periodic extended dry weather events. Since the state’s Water Supply Coordinating Council was established in 1999, the state and water purveyors who help comprise the council have worked together to enhance New Castle County’s water supply by an additional 2 billion gallons of water. Nevertheless, wise water use and conservation of supplies are highly encouraged in Delaware – tips for both practices can be found on the US Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense webpage.

Daily monitoring of water supply and demand conditions by water purveyors will continue in accordance with the plans established by the Water Supply Coordinating Council. Weekly meetings of the water agencies and utilities will be held until conditions return to normal, while the Water Supply Coordinating Council will be convened as necessary.

Media Contact: Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.

Vol. 46, No. 408

Protect Your Groundwater to Protect Your Health

DOVER – Nearly every person in Delaware drinks some form of groundwater on a daily basis, so we all have a reason to preserve its quality. That’s why the Delaware Office of Drinking Water (ODW) within the Division of Public Health (DPH) is recognizing national Protect Your Groundwater Day on September 8, 2015.

Many public water systems draw all or part of their supply from groundwater, so protecting the resource protects the public water supply and impacts treatment costs according to the National Groundwater Association. Additionally, if you own a well to provide water for your family, farm, or business, groundwater protection is doubly important. As a well owner, you are the manager of your own water system. Protecting groundwater will help reduce risks to your water supply.

Americans are the largest water users, per capita, in the world. By helping to protect our groundwater, you can ensure we all have clean drinking water now and into the future.
Contamination caused by human activities
Human activities can pollute groundwater, and this is where every person can help protect groundwater — both in terms of groundwater quality and quantity. Some common human causes of groundwater contamination are:
• Improper storage or disposal of hazardous substances
• Improper use of fertilizers, animal manures, herbicides, insecticides, and pesticides
• Chemical spills
• Improperly built and/or maintained septic systems
• Improperly abandoned wells (these include water wells, groundwater monitoring wells, and wells used in cleaning contaminated groundwater)

An emerging concern in recent years is the occurrence of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in water. Much research remains to be done to assess the health risks of trace amounts of these items. Proper disposal of medications is strongly encouraged. Find out where Delaware’s eight permanent drug disposal sites are located by clicking here. Delaware will also be holding a Drug Take Back Day on September 12, 2015 at multiple locations to be announced soon.

Steps to prevent groundwater contamination
When it comes to hazardous household substances:
o Store them properly in a secure place
o Use them according to the manufacturer’s recommendations
o Dispose of them safely.
When it comes to water conservation:
o Modify your water use by installing water saving appliances or not letting water run when you aren’t using it (such as in when brushing your teeth). Get more water saving tips here.
o Install a water-saving device (such as a low flow toilet or showerhead, faucet aerators or irrigation controllers)
If you own a water well
o Move possible contamination sources a safe distance from the wellhead
o Get current on your septic system inspection and cleaning
o Get your annual water well system inspection
o Properly decommission any abandoned wells using a professional.

At the household level, the greatest amount of water used inside the home occurs in the bathroom. The remainder of indoor water use is divided between clothes washing and kitchen use, including dish washing, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Agricultural irrigation is far and away the largest user of groundwater in America followed by public use via public water systems or private household wells at a combined total of 18.3 billion gallons per day.

For more information on Protect Your Groundwater Day and water conservation tips visit the National Groundwater Association website.

The DPH Office of Drinking Water works with all public water suppliers in Delaware to ensure compliance with state and federal drinking water regulations. For more information visit Delaware’s Water Quality web page.

People that receive their water from a public water supplier and have questions about their water should contact their supplier. Anyone with a question about a private well should contact the Kent County Health Unit, 302-744-1220 for information.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.