Happy New Year to all our wonderful supporters!! This year, the Friends of the Nanticoke River have undergone major changes. We merged with the Nanticoke Watershed Preservation Group (NWPG), building a new steering committee comprised of volunteers from both original organizations, and began expanding our activities throughout the Watershed, from Nanticoke, MD to Seaford, DE. We also elected new officers, who began serving in January, 2014. As a result of this transition, this is the last President’s message you’ll receive from me. Our new president is Eugene Williams, a Biology faculty member at Salisbury University (sound familiar?), and a person who deeply loves and cares about the Nanticoke River and its surrounding lands. Gene has served the community as a member of the Wicomico County Agricultural Reconciliation Board, and he brings energy and enthusiasm to this position. Another major transition is the “retirement” of our long-serving treasurer, Lola Gooch. Our deepest thanks go to Lola for all her excellent work keeping the financial and membership records in tip-top shape. She will be ably succeeded by John King. Our new Steering Committee also includes Jay Martin as Vice President, Judith Stribling as Past President, and Neill Carey as Secretary.
Hebron’s Waller Landing development
After many years of legal and political action and discussion, definitive progress on this huge development plan is here! The Town of Hebron has communicated that the development proposal has been officially withdrawn. The Town is in discussions with a prospective buyer of a portion of the land regarding approvals for irrigation wells, and the Commissioners have stated that they prefer an agricultural use for the property. Once again, our efforts to contain sprawl development have coincided with the economic downturn to work in favor of a more careful, measured approach. We hope to work with the Town to encourage these efforts and to highlight new and innovative approaches to land use.
Water Pollution control efforts
Several different regulatory efforts on behalf of improved water quality have been highlighted in the news and within local political dialogue lately. The state of Maryland proposed and then withdrew a “Phosphorus Management Tool” that would redefine how and where this fertilizer may be applied to farmlands. It is clear that there is an overabundance of P in much of the Nanticoke Watershed, and that much needs to be done to reduce its application. But it is also clear that further regulatory action requires far better planning and engagement of the farming community, because implementing sweeping regulations would have extreme effects on the costs of farming and potentially generate large amounts of unused poultry litter. We are committed to working with farming, poultry, and environmental interests to help address the challenges facing our agricultural industry with respect to water quality.
As farmers face additional regulatory pressures, efforts to share the responsibility for pollution have taken shape in the form of regulation of polluted stormwater runoff. Precipitation that falls on impervious surfaces such as roofs, roads, and parking lots, runs quickly into waterways, carrying large loads of pollutants. This source of pollution to our waters is the only one that is actually still increasing in the Bay watershed, and there are clear and effective means of reducing it. The City of Salisbury is in the process of developing a stormwater utility to help defer the costs of managing this form of pollution.
Other jurisdictions around the Bay are moving either voluntarily or as mandated by legislation to do the same. These efforts are important both in their effectiveness and in the fairness of sharing the responsibility of making the waters of the Chesapeake Bay healthy and productive again.
There have been a number of political efforts to discount pollution controls Bay-wide. Often these involve misleading labels, such as calling polluted stormwater runoff utility fees a “rain tax.” There’s also the inappropriately-named “Clean Chesapeake Coalition” – a legal firm that is lobbying counties statewide to pay into a fund ($25,000 a year) to join in efforts to fight the State of Maryland’s implementation of nutrient controls (the “pollution diet”) required by the Environmental Protection Agency. This group claims that there has been no progress in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, and that local pollution controls are worthless and should be abandoned. In the meantime, counties such as Wicomico County are already taking substantive measures to limit pollution and to control stormwater runoff in an environmentally and fiscally responsible manner (measures that are showing positive results), and they need our support. Please consider contacting your local representatives to let them know you are behind what’s being done to improve water quality!
New Development Planned for the Nanticoke River
The Residences at River Place is a condominium complex to be located on Water Street in Seaford, DE on the Seaford side of the Nanticoke River just east of the Seaford/Blades drawbridge. The planned development includes 2 buildings with apartments, elevators, covered parking, clubhouse, pool, docks, etc. The development will include a marina with piers extending into the river, and will involve filling 105 ft2 of offshore. Permits have been approved by the City of Seaford and DE Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). There is concern that this marina will add to the already problematic boat traffic on the upper Nanticoke River, which generates considerable suspension of sediments and erosion due to lack of adequate enforcement of no-wake zones.
Invista / Dupont Fly Ash Dump Site
Invista has enclosed and covered the old fly ash dump site and ponds originally used by DuPont. In July of 2013 a significant amount of oily water was noticed between the dump site work area and Woodland Road. This was reported to DNREC and after investigation, it was confirmed that there was an ash spill from the permitted disposal site on August 9, 2013 due to a rain event. Contractors in hazmat suits were observed cleaning up the spill area.
Annual Appeal for your involvement
The Friends of theNanticoke River welcome help with our activities and planning. If you would like to join our steering committee, please contact Gene Williams (phone number below) to volunteer. Assistance with everything from stuffing envelopes to participating in conservation brainstorming sessions is of value!