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Center for the Inland Bays Recommends Mitigation of Mountaire Pollution

Friday, November 9th, 2018

Rehoboth Beach – The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays has released a series of recommendations related to wastewater permit violations at the Mountaire poultry processing facility on the Indian River.  The recommendations follow a presentation in April of findings that the facility has a history of chronic permit violations and lax enforcement that contributed to pollution of ground and surface waters.  The recommendations also follow the release in June of a consent decree between Mountaire and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), which has been challenged by local residents in Delaware Superior Court.  

A Committee of the Center’s Board of Directors helped to develop the recommendations that include pollution remediation, regulation and permitting, environmental monitoring, and public information.  While the recommendations were developed before the consent decree was released, they remain relevant today.

Among the recommendations are a full accounting of pollution released from the facility in excess of its permitted limits extending back to at least 2009.  Also included is a recommendation that Mountaire prevent twice that amount of pollution from entering surface waters through new pollution control practices.  The consent decree between Mountaire and DNREC would require an amount of pollution twice as much as released over permitted limits to be cleaned up. However, it only seeks this beginning from July 31 of 2017, the date that a wastewater permit was issued just weeks before the facility’s wastewater system failed.

The Center also recommends that the facility’s water supply wells be relocated to intercept the most polluted groundwaters for treatment by the facility’s wastewater system.  The consent decree also contains this action. However, per the decree, well relocation would only be required after a new wastewater treatment system is constructed, which could take years.  This will allow highly-contaminated groundwater to continue leaching from the aquifer into Swan Creek and Indian River.

Other recommendations call for Mountaire to monitor the quality of water in Swan Creek and support additional monitoring of Indian River.  Existing monitoring of the river during the summers of 2017 and 2018 showed some of its worst-ever recorded water quality, with extremely-dense algae blooms and dissolved oxygen levels regularly falling to near zero.  

The recommendations also call for regular reports to the public on the pollution levels in the wastewater that continues to be disposed of at the facility.  Requests from the Center to DNREC for additional information about pollution levels and the proposed cleanup were not met. Chris Bason, Executive Director for the Center for the Inland Bays, said “Clean drinking water and a healthy Indian River are extremely important to the health of our community and economy.  We recognize the ongoing legal proceedings between DNREC and Mountaire, and we encourage important information concerning water resources to be made public.”

The Center’s recommendations also call for:

  • An evaluation of the failure by regulatory agencies to prevent permit violations and achieve permit compliance at the facility.
  • DNREC to address the violations of the facility’s Coastal Zone Act Permit
  • DNREC to maintain complete and up to date records for wastewater facilities on its public online information system.
  • Sellers of homes with private drinking water wells to disclose the level of nitrate in the water prior to sale of the home.

The Center intends to advocate for the implementation of these recommendations and to continue informing the public about the water quality and importance of the Inland Bays.  To read the full report including findings and recommendations, visit the Center’s website at www.inlandbays.org/mountaire-contamination-report/

The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is a non-profit organization established in 1994, and is one of 28 National Estuary Programs.  With its many partners, the CIB works to preserve, protect and restore Delaware’s Inland Bays and their Watershed.

For more information call Chris Bason at 226-8105×104, send an email to chrisbason@inlandbays.org or, visit our website: www.inlandbays.org

 

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Explore Mathematical Models of the Inland Bays at this Friday’s STAC Meeting!

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

Lewes, DE — The public is invited to attend the next Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) meeting on Friday, October 26, 2018, from 9:00 am – noon at the DNREC Lewes Field Facility on 901 Pilottown Road in Lewes, DE.

At this meeting, the focus will be on development of mathematical models of the Inland Bays to make predictions about the results of pollution inputs. Dr. Jeremy Testa of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science will discuss the use of ecosystem models to explore the long-term impacts of nutrient pollution on bay water quality. Dr. Joseph Zhang of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science will present his work on a new modeling approach to study water movement and pollution problems in estuaries such as the Inland Bays.

“Models are important tools to help scientists and decision makers better understand how bay waters change in response to things such as pollution and climate change,” says Dr. Marianne Walch, the Center’s Science & Restoration Coordinator. They can also be used to predict which management decisions and practices will provide maximum water quality benefit.”

The agenda also includes input from the STAC on updates to the Center’s Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, and a discussion of priority research needs for the Inland Bays.

STAC meetings are a great opportunity to hear presentations about the local environment, and a chance to ask questions about the latest research being conducted on the Inland Bays. This Committee provides objective advice and guidance to the Center’s Board of Directors and other cooperating agencies that have interests in Delaware’s Inland Bays. A draft agenda and additional information about the Committee and past meetings can be found on the CIB website and at www.inlandbays.org/stac.

New Reforestation Plan Will Combat Effects of Urbanization/Pollution

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

Rehoboth Beach — The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays’ new Watershed Reforestation Plan identifies and envisions water quality improvement projects that benefit the Inland Bays and create valuable partnerships in conservation efforts.

In recent years, land use has changed dramatically for the Inland Bays watershed (an area of land covering most of eastern Sussex County that drains into the Inland Bays). Farms and forests are rapidly being replaced by developments which grew by 25 square miles from 1992 to 2012.

“We need to address these water quality issues in a strategic and cost-effective manner,” explained the Center’s Watershed Coordinator, Michelle Schmidt. “This new Watershed Reforestation Plan is our guide for this endeavor and has helped us to identify reforestation sites, approach landowners, and build valuable partnerships that help us to achieve mutual goals.”

Over the past five years, the Center has worked hard to implement several reforestation projects to mitigate these problems and to achieve the goals of the Center’s 2012 Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan (CCMP) Addendum and 2008 Pollution Control Strategy (which has an ambitious goal of creating 3,246 acres of riparian forested buffer).

In 2015, the Center partnered with the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife to reforest 70 acres of former agricultural land at the Marion R. Okie Preserve at Poplar Thicket. The following year, in 2016, the Center partnered with The Nature Conservancy to reforest 22 acres of the 557-acre Bullseye-Ferry Landing Preserve on Indian River. Finally, over the course of four years beginning in 2014, the Angola Neck Reforestation Project saw the planting of nearly 38 acres of state-owned and managed agricultural lands in Angola Neck. This project created a forested corridor from Love Creek into other wetland areas located further inland in order to enhance water quality and wildlife habitat for songbirds like Yellow-breasted Chat, Northern Parula, and American Redstart.

The Center initiated the development of a Watershed Reforestation Plan in 2016. This plan identifies and conceptualizes priority cropland reforestation projects that are the most cost-effective measures for water quality improvements and result in the highest quality conservation improvements. A Watershed Reforestation Model was developed to identify and rank all agricultural parcels in the Inland Bays watershed as candidates for reforestation or other Best Management Practices based on specific criteria, including the proximity to first order streams and already protected areas.

Currently, the Center is reaching out to landowners of the top ranking project sites to gauge interest and create partnerships. From there, reforestation concept designs will be developed and used, turning to The Reforestation Management Plan as a guide.

The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is a non-profit organization established in 1994, one of 28 National Estuary Programs. With its many partners, the CIB works to preserve, protect and restore Delaware’s Inland Bays, the water that flows into them, and the watershed around them.

 

Letter to the Editor: Delaware Chose Clean Water for 2019

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

by Amy Barra

On behalf of the Clean Water: Delaware’s Clear Choice campaign, the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays would like to thank Governor John Carney and Delaware State Legislature for their efforts that secured $10 million for open space preservation, $10 million for farmland preservation, and $10 million for investments for clean water in Delaware’s budget for fiscal year 2019!

Providing funding for clean water may help Delawareans avoid a water related state of emergency, like the one that Florida is experiencing right now. Seven counties in Florida are suffering from toxic algae outbreaks, which negatively impact the water quality. Growing up, I regularly visited two of these impacted counties, as both sets of grandparents had resettled in Florida for it’s warmer climate and abundance of water. I remember looking forward to paddling through the waters of the estuary, or visiting their boats docked along the canals, but if I were to visit today these areas would be choked with mats of toxic algae.This is a fate that I hope Delaware can avoid by being proactive about the water quality.  

The $10 million for clean water in the Bond bill may be a drop in the bucket when compared to the annual deficit of $100 million needed to address our water quality needs. But it is a step in the right direction, and it is my hope is that this funding will inspire further action to secure dedicated funding for clean water projects.

Research on ribbed mussel habitat restoration to be presented at next meeting of the Center for the Inland Bays Science Committee

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays invites the public to attend the next Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) meeting on Friday, July 27, 2018, from 9:00am – noon at the DNREC Lewes Field Facility on 901 Pilottown Road in Lewes, DE.

At this meeting, Dr. Joshua Moody of the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary will present his work on ecosystem services provided by the ribbed mussels found in tidal salt marshes throughout the Inland Bays.  Among these important services is removal of excess nitrogen that pollutes bay waters and can cause algae blooms and low oxygen levels that harm fish and shellfish.

“High concentrations of the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus is the biggest problem currently facing the Inland Bays,” says Dr. Marianne Walch, the Center’s Science & Restoration Coordinator. “Dr. Moody’s research will help us understand how enhancement of mussel populations in living shoreline and wetland restoration projects can help maximize their water quality benefits.”

The agenda also includes a presentation by Dr. William Ritter of the University of Delaware about technologies for treating food processing wastewater, and discussion of a report released by the Center for the Inland Bays board that includes data regarding pollution at the Mountaire facility in Millsboro.

STAC meetings are a great opportunity to hear presentations about the local environment, and a chance to ask questions about the latest research being conducted on the Inland Bays. This Committee provides objective advice and guidance to the Center’s Board of Directors and other cooperating agencies that have interests in Delaware’s Inland Bays. A draft agenda and additional information about the Committee and past meetings can be found on the CIB website and at www.inlandbays.org/stac.

The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is a non-profit organization established in 1994, and is one of 28 National Estuary Programs.  With its many partners, the CIB works to preserve, protect and restore Delaware’s Inland Bays–the water that flows into them, and the watershed around them.

Delaware Chooses Clean Water for 2019

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

On behalf of the Clean Water: Delaware’s Clear Choice campaign, the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays would like to thank Governor John Carney and Delaware State Legislature for their efforts that secured $10 million for open space preservation, $10 million for farmland preservation, and $10 million for investments for clean water in Delaware’s budget for fiscal year 2019!

Clean water is essential to everyone, impacting our everyday lives through the food we eat; the streams, rivers, lakes and bays near our homes; our health; and our economy. Unfortunately, 90 percent of Delaware’s waterways are polluted,100 miles of Delaware’s waters have fish consumption advisories, and Delaware faces an annual deficit of $100 million to address our water quality needs. Fortunately, the future of our water just got a little bit brighter.

Each year, the governor and state legislature have the task of passing their Bond Bill for the upcoming fiscal year that designates funding for capital improvements such as road repairs, building maintenance, and land preservation. On the final day of legislative session, Governor John Carney and the Delaware State Legislature passed a bill that includes $30 million combined for open space preservation, farmland preservation, and investments in clean water! This exceeded the original proposed $26 million combined and is the most conservation funding that Delaware has received in over a decade!

While putting money toward clean water is obviously a win for Delaware’s waterways, the inclusion of millions for open space and farmland preservation is also important to the cause. The preservation of open spaces protects areas that absorb flood waters and filter stormwater runoff before it lands in our waterways. Such parks and forests also offer relief to the pressure that increased development puts on our water infrastructure and natural resources — especially in fast-growing Sussex County.

The new fiscal year officially began on July 1 which means that Delawareans can expect to see this money put to use within the year. Projects funded throughout the state could include improvements to wastewater systems, flood reduction initiatives, innovative toxic removal technologies, and investments in drinking water quality.

This could not have been achieved without those who spoke up for clean water throughout the state. Whether you rallied in front of Legislative Hall earlier this month, advocated for funding in front of the House Natural Resources Committee, or promoted clean water during the Bond Bill Committee process, you made a difference! But it is important to keep working towards this clean water goal. While this infusion of funding for Delaware’s waterways is exciting, more is still needed.

“The funding we’ve received for this year is a big step in the right direction and we’re grateful for the support.” explains Executive Director of the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, Chris Bason, “But we’re still falling short of the $100 million needed annually for clean water projects throughout the state. It is important that we continue to work towards a long-term and sustainable funding solution for Delaware’s water needs.”

Once again, on behalf of the Clean Water: Delaware’s Clear Choice campaign, the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, thank you Governor Carney, Delaware State Legislature, and clean water supporters for their hard work and dedication to this cause. Let’s keep moving in a positive direction!

The Clean Water: Delaware’s Clear Choice campaign is a statewide outreach and education effort focused on securing additional funding for clean water. The campaign supports additional funding going towards improvement to wastewater systems, flood reduction initiatives, restoration of our natural resources like wetlands, innovative toxic removal technologies and investments in drinking water. Learn more about the campaign at www.cleanwaterdelaware.org..

DNREC EF Project Priorities and Intended Use Plans are listed online at https://dnrec.alpha.delaware.gov/environmental-finance/revolving-fund/

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Center from the Inland Bays Seeks Feedback on Plan to Manage the Inland Bays

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays needs your help! The Center will host a public forum on the evening of Monday, July 23rd at the Indian River Senior Center in Millsboro to share updates and collect public feedback on the management plan for the future of the Inland Bays.

The updated Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) will direct the activities that protect and enhance the Inland Bays for the next five years, through 2023. It outlines goals and activities that the Center and its partners take on in order to improve the Inland Bays and surrounding watershed. These goals are based on scientific data and input from key stakeholders in the community — people like YOU!

The public forum will be held on Monday, July 23rd from 6:00PM-8:00PM at the Indian River Senior Center located at 214 Irons Ave, Millsboro, DE 19966.

Have questions? Please contact us at mschmidt@inlandbays.org.


The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is a non-profit National Estuary Program established in 1994, that works to preserve, protect and restore Delaware’s Inland Bays,the water that flows into them, and the watershed around them.

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Attend the Best Bayside Party of the Year on August 2nd!

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018
Rehoboth Beach, DE — On the evening of Thursday, August 2nd from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m., join the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays for the 11th Annual Decked Out fundraiser, featuring friends, fun, and food — and raising money to preserve, protect and restore Delaware’s three Inland Bays! The event will be held at the Center’s Headquarters at 39375 Inlet Road, Rehoboth Beach, DE.
 
“Summer’s here, and the time is right for Decked Out – one of the area’s most spectacular evenings on the Inland Bays,” said Chris Bason, Executive Director of the Center. “This year we are excited to have local artist John Donato on deck, who will do a “live” custom painting which will be on the auction block. Don’t miss your chance to bid on this one-of-a-kind piece. John is an amazing artist who cares about the Bays and is dedicated to the Center’s mission”.
 
Down some fresh oysters, while enjoying light fare from local restaurants, live music, and icy cold beverages while watching the sun set over Indian River Bay! This is a great opportunity to catch up with fellow friends of the Bays, network with other entrepreneurs, and snap up some exciting excursions, opportunities, and unique items in the silent auction! Tickets are just $75 per person and sell out FAST!
 
Get even more bang for your buck with an event sponsorship! Sponsors receive perks like free tickets, engaging event advertising, shout-outs, and an invitation to the exclusive Advance Auction Preview! All proceeds of the evening will be used to support the Center’s work.
 
For sponsorship options and details, visit www.inlandbays.org/deckedout or call Development Coordinator, Mary Knight, at (302) 226-8195 x108.
 
The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is a non-profit organization established in 1994 and is one of 28 National Estuary Programs.  With its many partners, the CIB works to preserve, protect and restore Delaware’s Inland Bays–the water that flows into them, and the watershed around them.
 
For more information call Amy Barra at 226-8105x103, send an email to abarra@inlandbays.org  or, visit our website: www.inlandbays.org
 
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New Rehoboth Outfall Means Healthier Inland Bays!

Friday, June 29th, 2018

Rehoboth Beach – On Friday, June 15, officials and members of the community gathered to cut the ribbon and celebrate the completion of the City of Rehoboth Beach’s ocean outfall project. A win for the Inland Bays, this outfall will prevent over 17,000 lbs of nitrogen and 1,000 lbs of phosphorus from entering the Bays each year!

“The completion of this very important project for the City of Rehoboth Beach marks a time in history when future leaders and our informed citizens will reflect on how clean water in the Inland Bays plays such a vital role in their daily lives,” explains City Manager, Sharon Lynn. “I am thankful to all who contributed to the ocean outfall project completion as I can’t think of too many other projects of this magnitude that will be advanced for a more important purpose.”

For decades, wastewater from Rehoboth Beach has degraded Delaware’s Inland Bays, an ecologically sensitive area designated as an “estuary of national significance” by United States Congress. Although the wastewater was treated prior to draining in the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal, nitrogen and phosphorus remained in the water.  These nutrients are harmless to humans, but the slowly flushed Inland Bays are extremely sensitive to even small amounts of nutrient pollution.

When concentrated in a small estuary like the Inland Bays and their tributaries, nutrient pollution feeds algae and causes large algal blooms. This slimy excess algae then uses up the dissolved oxygen in the water, leaving too little for fish, shellfish, and other marine species to survive. Examples of this phenomenon are often seen during the summer months in Love Creek, Whites Creek, Shell Landing Cove, off of Rehoboth Bay, and the canals of South Bethany. Once pollutants get in the Bays, they remain there for a long time.

Removing this discharge instantly stops an astonishing 17,000 pounds of nitrogen from being pumped directly into the Rehoboth Bay every year – that’s the equivalent of preventing the use of 3,400 50-lb bags of fertilizer (another source of excess nutrients) from being used on land within the watershed. It will also stop the contribution of over 1,000 pounds of phosphorus each year – removing the equivalent of 2,200 50-lb bags of fertilizer and an amount equal to over 30% of the annual phosphorus load to Rehoboth Bay.

The removal of the discharge will have immediate and significant positive benefits to the water and all the people and creatures that rely on it.  This was the final significant point source of wastewater to the Inland Bays to be addressed from an original 13 point sources. The Allen Harim facility near Millsboro has plans to remove the very last pipe, which discharges a small amount of wastewater to Wharton’s Branch on Indian River.   

Now, Rehoboth’s treated wastewater discharge is being sent one mile out into the ocean where it is quickly  diluted. Studies contracted by the city of Rehoboth Beach have demonstrated that the discharge will be diluted 100:1 within a few hundred feet of the outfall in under 6 minutes. As such, there will be little impact to aquatic life there as a result of the new outfall. Another ocean outfall off Bethany Beach has operated successfully for decades.       

This decision of whether to implement an ocean outfall or to go with a land-based disposal alternative was explored by the City and the State. The outfall was eventually selected as little affordable land was available for the proposed disposal, and land-based disposal would only continue to feed nutrients back into already-polluted estuaries through groundwater.

This project has addressed a major problem facing the City of Rehoboth, and our Inland Bays. By dispersing the City’s wastewater into the well-flushed, wide expanse of the Atlantic, the outfall has created real change for the Inland Bays. We look forward to seeing the progress in the coming weeks, months, and years.

The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is a non-profit organization established in 1994, and is one of 28 National Estuary Programs.  With its many partners, the CIB works to preserve, protect and restore Delaware’s Inland Bays–the water that flows into them, and the watershed around them.

For more information call Amy Barra at 226-8105×103, send an email to abarra@inlandbays.org  or, visit our website: www.inlandbays.org

 

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Dewey Beach Embraces Nature-Based Stormwater Solutions

Thursday, June 21st, 2018
Dewey Beach, DE – This coming fall, new green infrastructure project by the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays and the Town of Dewey Beach will soon reduce nuisance flooding and treat polluted stormwater at the northeast corner of Coastal Highway (SR1) and Read Avenue, just outside of the Little Store grocery. 
 
Intense development, a low-lying geography, and sea level rise have made management of stormwater an increasing challenge in Dewey Beach. For this reason, a stormwater treatment project is in the works that will consist of a planted bioretention facility (also known as a stormwater treatment area) and a trench to allow runoff to seep into the ground. 
 
This reservoir will be covered by permeable pavers, creating porous pavement that allows water to seep into and be filtered by the soil beneath. A charcoal-like material, called biochar, will be added to the soil to improve pollution removal from the runoff. The biochar will also enhance the growth of the attractive and functional vegetation planted in the bioretention facility. 
 
Once completed, this new green infrastructure will achieve improved drainage and treatment for a 2.7-acre drainage area, reduce the percentage of impervious surface in the Town, and reduce flooding on Read Avenue. Through the reduction in, and the soil filtration of stormwater, we will also see improvements in the health of Rehoboth Bay. 
 
By controlling nonpoint source nutrient and sediment pollution to the Bay, these retrofits contribute to implementing the Inland Bays Comprehensive Conservation Plan. It will also serve as an important demonstration to both residents and officials of Dewey Beach and other Inland Bays coastal communities of how innovative green infrastructure tactics can improve both flooding issues and water quality, and at the same time enhance the streetscape and be an asset to local businesses and other properties.
 
This project will be engineered by RK&K and will be funded by a Community Water Quality Improvement Grant and funding match from the Town of Dewey Beach. Grant funding comes from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s (DNREC)’s Water Infrastructure Advisory Council.
 
The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is a non-profit organization established in 1994 to promote the wise use and enhancement of the Inland Bays and its watershed.  With its many partners, the CIB conducts public outreach and education, develops and implements restoration projects, encourages scientific inquiry and sponsors research. 
To volunteer or for more information, please contact Bob Collins, Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, at 302-226-8105 ext. 111 or by email at jamesfarm@inlandbays.org.
 
 
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