DNREC now accepting grant proposals for Delaware Chesapeake Bay watershed implementation projects

DOVER (Sept. 17, 2019) – DNREC’s Division of Watershed Stewardship is now accepting project proposals from state agencies, county and municipal governments, conservation districts, community organizations, homeowner organizations and not-for-profit organizations representing local government for water quality improvement projects within Delaware’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Proposals for the Chesapeake Bay Implementation Funding Grant must be received by DNREC no later than 3:30 p.m. Oct. 30, 2019.

The Implementation Funding Grant within Delaware’s Chesapeake Bay Implementation Grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is intended for use by Delaware entities within the Chesapeake Bay watershed for best management practice implementation projects that will improve water quality by reducing nutrient and sediment loads. The competitive grant process is administered by Delaware’s Chesapeake Bay Implementation Grant Program, which provides technical and financial guidance during the grant application and project period.

Grant requests of up to $200,000 (from $350,000 in total funding for fiscal year 2020) will be considered, with a one-to-one non-federal match requirement. Up to 10 percent of the grant funds may be used for administrative costs.

The grant guidelines and application instructions can be found online at Chesapeake Bay Implementation Funding Grant webpage. Proposals must be submitted by email to James.Sullivan@delaware.gov and must be no larger than 10 megabytes (MB) in size.

For more information, please contact Jim Sullivan, Division of Watershed Stewardship, at 302-739-9922.

Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 49, No. 236

DNREC’s Division of Watershed Stewardship to co-host EcoPaddle Saturday, June 22 in Laurel

BLADES – DNREC’s Division of Watershed Stewardship, in conjunction with the Reclaim Our River (ROR) Nanticoke team, invites the public to participate in the EcoPaddle on Broad Creek. The EcoPaddle will be held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, June 22 at Roger C. Fisher Park, West 6th Street, Laurel, DE 19956. Rain date is Sunday, June 23.

Broad Creek is one of the Nanticoke River’s larger tributaries and boasts a rich natural and cultural history. During the guided morning paddle along a portion of the tidal creek, EcoPaddle participants will discover the flora, fauna, and history of the area and its inhabitants. Afterwards, paddlers can enjoy lunch and learn more about the ROR partnership, and what is being done by the partnership, including the Division of Watershed Stewardship, to improve water quality in the Nanticoke Watershed.

Participants must be at least 8 years of age and all participants under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Participants are encouraged to bring their own kayak or canoe. A limited number of kayaks and canoes are available for use on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Registration fees of $10 help cover the costs of lunch and equipment, including rental kayaks and canoes. Participants can request a refund and cancel their registration up to 72 hours before the paddle. Otherwise, fees are non-refundable. To register, click here.

For more information on the EcoPaddle, please email Beth Wasden at BethWasden@NanticokeRiver.org or call 443-944-1175.

This event is sponsored by the ROR Partnership, including DNREC, Delaware Nature Society, and Nanticoke Watershed Alliance.

The ROR-Nanticoke Series, a program designed to bring more water quality-oriented events, workshops, and recreational opportunities to the Nanticoke River watershed. The ROR program offers information on reducing nutrient and sediment pollution and improving water quality, promotes public access to waterways and provides recreational opportunities as a way to connect residents to their waterways and inspire them to make improvements. For more information on the ROR program, please visit de.gov/nps.

For more information on the Reclaim Our River Partnership, please call Philip Miller at 302-739-9922 or email Philip.Miller@delaware.gov.

Media Contact: Philip Miller, DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship Conservation Programs Section, 302-739-9922, or Philip.Miller@delaware.gov

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.

DNREC produces wetlands report card and management recommendations on the Smyrna River Watershed

DOVER – A new “wetlands report card” for the Smyrna River Watershed is now available from DNREC’s Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program – the ninth in a series of watershed-specific wetland health reports produced by the Department. The Smyrna River Watershed extends into both Kent and New Castle counties, where agriculture (46 percent) and wetlands (27 percent) primarily dominate the landscape. The wetlands report card indicates that wetlands in the Smyrna watershed were in better-than-average condition when rated against other previously assessed Delaware watersheds, earning an overall B-minus grade.

Nearly half (47 percent) of the wetlands found in the Smyrna River Watershed were the saltwater tidal variety. Other dominant wetland types include freshwater forested flats, riverine, and depressions. Saltwater tidal and freshwater flat wetlands were in the best health of the four types evaluated. Both received a B- grade, mostly as a result of invasive plant species and development closely surrounding the wetlands. Tidal wetlands in this area were in better health compared to most in Delaware due to a lack of man-made ditches.

Teams of wetland scientists from DNREC’s Division of Watershed Stewardship and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary gained permission to visit a total of 122 randomly-selected sites within the Smyrna River Watershed. Using condition assessment checklists and biological metrics, they found that wetlands in the watershed were in fair condition, and that the most common stressors were invasive plants; the digging, filling, and/or ditching of wetlands; and agriculture or development in the buffer area closely surrounding the wetland.

DNREC’s data were used to create a technical report and a more user-friendly report card that summarized not only the health of the Smyrna River Watershed’s wetlands, but also examined the change in wetland acreage in recent decades, what value wetlands provide, and how recent changes in land use will impact wetlands. Already, 32 percent of this watershed’s original wetlands have been lost, primarily due to conversion to development and agriculture. Meanwhile, in their ongoing preservation work, DNREC’s Wetland Monitoring and Assessment program continues to emphasize how wetlands are beneficial resources for both people and wildlife, and that impacts to their health reduce a wetland’s ability to perform and diminish fully, minimizing its valuable role in controlling flooding and erosion, improving water quality, and providing beautiful habitats for us all.

Based on results included in the report, DNREC made recommendations to scientists, decision makers, and landowners to improve the future health of the Smyrna River Watershed’s wetlands. These included: encouraging planting buffers around streams and wetlands; promoting restoration of degraded wetlands; improving protection of non-tidal freshwater wetlands; using best management practices in agricultural operations, and exploring innovative shoreline protection techniques such as living shorelines.

The wetland reports and the work of the Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program are made possible by EPA Region 3 Wetland Program Development funding. To view more details on the Smyrna River Watershed or for more information on assessment methods, please visit de.gov/watershedhealth.

Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 48, No. 206

DNREC invites public to vote online for finalists in first Delaware Watersheds Photo Contest

DOVER – DNREC’s Division of Watershed Stewardship invites the public to vote on finalists in the first Delaware Watersheds Photo Contest by visiting www.delawarewatersheds.org. The contest aims to share the beauty of Delaware’s diverse environment while acting as a vivid reminder that everything happening on land within the state’s watersheds also directly affects what happens in our waterways.

A watershed is all of the land that water moves across or under while flowing to a specific body of water. The contest was open to all photographers, with images from any of Delaware’s watersheds accepted as entries. Judges were looking for striking photographic images of Delaware’s landscapes, waterscapes, native plants, and native wildlife.

Contestants entered photographs in three categories:

  • Natural Landscapes and Waterscapes of Delaware – Photographs of any waterbodies such as streams, rivers, lakes, creeks, estuaries, bay, ocean, etc. or scenic landscapes in Delaware.
  • Native Wildlife of Delaware — pictures of native animals, birds, fish, insects, and amphibians.
  • Native Plants of Delaware – photos of native plants in any setting.

Online votes must be cast by Sunday, July 8. Contest judges determined the photographs that moved on to the online voting phase of the photo contest. Public voting will determine the top finalists in each category. Photography by contest finalists will be on display at the 2018 Delaware State Fair, and will be voted on by fairgoers to determine first, second and third-place winners. The three winners in each category will receive a DNREC Delaware State Parks annual pass for 2019. First-place winners in each category also will be recognized at the annual DNREC Awards ceremony on Governor’s Day at the Delaware State Fair in July. Winning photographs also will appear in a future issue of Outdoor Delaware magazine.

For more information, please contact Phil Miller at phillip.miller@delaware.gov or 302-290-3578.

CONTACT: Philip Miller, Conservation Programs Section, DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship, 302-290-3578.

Vol. 48, No. 174