September 24, 2003
Volume 33, Number 263
Division of Water Resources
Contact: Kathy Bunting-Howarth, Watershed
Assessmsent, phone: (302) 739-4590
or Bill Rohrer, Delaware Nutrient Management Commission, phone: (302)
Nutrient Management Commission Designates Murderkill
Watershed as "Critical Area"
The Murderkill Tributary Action Team announces the designation of the
Murderkill Watershed as a "critical area" by the Delaware Nutrient
The "critical area" designation targets the Murderkill Watershed for
voluntary and regulatory actions and makes it a priority for the Nutrient
Management Commission. The designation will also help to make the watershed
eligible for 319 (Clean Water Act) grant funds from the Environmental
The Murderkill River is impaired due to elevated nutrient levels and low
dissolved oxygen, among other pollutants and stressors. Contributors to the
high nutrient levels in the watershed include failing septic systems,
agriculture and stormwater runoff.
Currently, cost-share funds are available in the watershed for nutrient
management planning through the Delaware Nutrient Management Commission, for
cover crops through the Kent Conservation District, and through Natural
Resources Conservation Service and the Farm Service Agency for various
programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program and the Conservation
Reserve Enhancement Program.
The Murderkill Tributary Action Team, a group of concerned citizens and
state and local government representatives, is tasked with recommending a
Pollution Control Strategy to the Department of Natural Resources and
Environmental Control for achieving nutrient load reductions. The team
requested that the Commission consider the "critical area" designation.
Agriculture is an integral contributor to the economy and the culture of the
area with more than 38,000 acres of highly productive farmland within the
watershed. Many acres are available to apply Best Management Practices (BMPs)
to reduce nutrient loadings into the watershed.
The "critical area" designation will bring further awareness of water
quality issues and the state of the Murderkill Watershed as well as help to
Bill Rohrer, the Commissionís program administrator, commends the joint
efforts to improve the environment. "Agriculture is one of many sources of
nutrient pollution and farmers are responsible by way of nutrient
management. The Murderkill Watershed will be a priority for nutrient
management planning and the relocation of excess poultry litter."
Jim Newton, Kent County Department of Public Works and Murderkill Tributary
Action Team member feels the designation will "give the tributary team the
opportunity to pursue grants to educate the public on how nutrients affect
the Murderkill Watershed and what they can do to reduce impacts."
For further information on the critical area designation, contact Bill
Rohrer, Delaware Nutrient Management Commission administrator, (302)
698-4500. For more information about the Murderkill Tributary Action Team,
contact Kathy Bunting-Howarth, (302) 739-4590.
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