What is a National Estuary Program?
About the CIB
The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays was established as a nonprofit organization in 1994 under the auspices of the Inland Bays Watershed Enhancement Act (Title 7, Chapter 76). Its creation was the culmination of more than 20 years of active public participation and investigation into the decline of the Inland Bays and the remedies for the restoration and preservation of the watershed.
Delaware’s Inland Bays were designated an “estuary of national significance in 1988 by the U.S. Congress, and as such, the Center for the Inland Bays is one of the 28 National Estuary Programs (NEP’s).
The Center oversees the implementation of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for Delaware’s Inland Bays (CCMP) and 2012 Addendum and promotes the wise use and enhancement of the Inland Bays watershed by conducting public outreach and education, developing and implementing restoration projects, encouraging scientific inquiry, sponsoring needed research, and establishing a long-term process for the protection and preservation of the watershed.
To preserve, protect and restore Delaware’s Inland Bays, the water that flows into them, and the watershed around them.
The CIB achieves this through:
- To facilitate the wise use and enhancement of the Inland Bays’ Watershed through the coordinated implementation of the Inland Bays Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan.
- To provide a forum where science supports public education and decision making regarding the Inland Bays Watershed.
- To foster a collaborative, consensus-building culture among watershed stakeholders crucial to support research, education, protection and restoration initiatives, and policy decisions.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Estuary Program was established by Congress in 1987 to improve the quality of estuaries of national importance. The Clean Water Act Section 320 directs EPA to develop plans for attaining or maintaining water quality in an estuary. This includes protection of public water supplies and the protection and propagation of a balanced, indigenous population of shellfish, fish, and wildlife, and allows recreational activities, in and on water, requires that control of point and nonpoint sources of pollution to supplement existing controls of pollution.
There are 28 programs that are part of the National Estuary Program. Each program establishes a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) to meet the goals of Section 320.
In addition to water quality improvements, habitat restoration and protection is one of the major focuses of the National Estuary Program. View NEP goals and plans, as well as learn about habitat loss and degradation, and its contributing factors.
Local NEP Project information is available including maps, project descriptions, and photos.
The CIB is one of 28 Congressionally designated National Estuary Programs working to improve the environmental health of the nation’s estuaries. This program has provided approximately $2 million to study the Inland Bays, characterize and set priorities for addressing the environmental problems in the watershed, and develop a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) to protect and restore the bays. The underlying theme of the program is that a collaborative, consensus-building effort involving citizens; private interests; organized groups; and federal, state, and local governments is essential to the successful development and implementation of the CCMP. Adopted in 1995 and supplemented in 2012, the CCMP addresses action plans in five targeted areas:
- Education and Outreach
- Agricultural Sources
- Industrial, Municipal, and Septic System Sources
- Land Use
- Habitat Protection
The Center oversees the implementation of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan including its 2012 Addendum. The addendum was created by a working committee including representatives from the DE Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the DE Department of Agriculture, the Sussex Conservation District, Sussex County government, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service, the Southern Delaware Tourism office, University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and the Environment, the CIB’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee, and informed citizens including its Citizens Advisory Committee.
While the original 1995 plan remains in effect; the 2012 Addendum provides prioritized tasks for the next five years, including issues that have emerged since the original document was written. The focus areas in the 2012 Addendum are nutrient management, wastewater management, stormwater management, water quality management, managing living resources and their habitat, planning for climate change, coordinating land and water use decisions, and outreach and education. Under each focus area are objectives, actions and performance measures.
In the years since the original CCMP was completed, much has been accomplished. Only one major point source of nutrient loading to the Bays remain of the 13 point sources identified in 1990, and two of these sources will be removed in the near future. Nutrient management plans have been implemented for nearly all the farms in the Inland Bays drainage system, and thousands of acres of land have been placed under protection.
Annual Work Plans
CIB Annual Work Plans are written to meet EPA requirements for award of funds pursuant to Section 320 of the Clean Water Act. They serve as an agreement between the Center for the Inland Bays and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for work to be carried out throughout the fiscal year focused on the implementation of the Delaware Inland Bays Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan via research, demonstration, education/outreach, and habitat restoration activities.
The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays will implement the Inland Bays Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) through a series of new and ongoing projects implementing various CCMP Action Plans and Tactics.