EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) Eastern Partnership Office Director David O’Neill joined with DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara and the mayors and dignitaries of Greenwood, Laurel and Bethel to show how federal, state and local partnerships can improve community livability and the health of local waters.
"These water projects are good examples of how local communities can help repair and protect vital ecosystems and improve our quality of water for generations to come,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper. “But they cannot do it alone. With the federal, state and local levels of government working together with other local partners, we can make sure these projects come to life.”
"These projects, which will reduce flooding and improve water quality, are a terrific way to illustrate what happens when federal, state and local governments collaborate," U.S. Sen. Chris Coons said. "Through restoring a buffer of native vegetation in Greenwood and by developing green infrastructure design in Laurel and Bethel, the folks in these communities will reap the benefits of these improvements for years to come. An investment in helping towns overcome barriers to improving water quality is also an investment in the overall well-being of that community.”
“Delawareans all across our state are blessed to have such beautiful natural habitats to enjoy,” said Congressman John Carney. “It’s our responsibility to care for these resources and ensure that future generations have the same opportunity. Greenwood, Laurel, and Bethel have identified projects that will improve the water quality in the region, reduce stormwater runoff, and restore their shoreline along the Nanticoke River. I’m excited that the federal government, in partnership with state and local leaders, is helping to move these projects forward and protect these beautiful parts of our state.”
Greenwood, Laurel and Bethel are among towns selected by NFWF to receive financial or technical assistance through the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund, which helps local communities restore and protect water quality and vital habitats within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Major funding is provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service and Altria Client Services. Additional funding is provided by the D.C. Department of the Environment, FedEx, Northrop Grumman, Walmart Acres for America and Wells Fargo.
"Improving stormwater management by implementing low impact development, green infrastructure and other stormwater management practices is breaking new ground when it comes to reducing water pollution," said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. "They will help take us to the next level of innovation and creativity, spurring new ideas and showing people living throughout the watershed how restoring clean water benefits local communities.”
“This year we have seen local governments of all sizes step forward to proactively meet the challenge of restoring the Chesapeake Bay, while also protecting their local rivers and streams,” said NFWF's David O’Neill. “It is especially heartening to see small localities like Greenwood, Laurel and Bethel demonstrate that this important work has meaningful local benefits.”
The projects support efforts to meet the state’s goals of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) by helping the towns overcome barriers to improving water quality of Delaware’s Chesapeake Bay tributaries. To accomplish reductions in nutrients and sediment flowing into the Nanticoke River and Broad Creek, the WIP calls for projects that reduce pollution from urban stormwater runoff and that stabilize stream banks.
“The projects in Greenwood, Laurel, and Bethel will improve the water quality of our local streams and rivers, reduce flooding, and enhance the quality of life for local communities,” said DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara. “By federal, state and local partners working together, we are securing resources necessary to ensure that our waterways are safe, swimmable, and fishable for current and future generations.”
The Town of Greenwood was awarded $35,000 to restore a buffer of native vegetation along 1,000 feet of the Cart Branch Tax Ditch, which drains into the headwaters of the Nanticoke River. Located within the heart of the community in the Brenda Jones Park, the restoration project will reduce stormwater runoff from two large industrial buildings, as well as the Park, and will establish more than ½ acre of new floodplain and buffer habitat. Within walking distance of the Woodbridge Elementary School, the improvements expand outdoor educational programs for the community’s children. Greenwood was awarded the federal funding by providing $67,500 in in-kind technical services and cash from local partners.
“This project will reduce and treat stormwater runoff at the Brenda Jones Park, the surrounding homes and industrial buildings, reducing localized flooding and erosion and helping improve water quality of the Nanticoke River,” said Mayor Donald Donovan. “The project has the added benefits of providing an education opportunity for school children at Woodbridge Elementary School. On behalf of everyone in Greenwood, I want to thank the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for this grant that will do so much for our town.”
At today’s event, students from the Woodbridge FFA joined with officials and local dignitaries to plant trees on the site, marking the first phase of the project. The trees were provided by the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Delaware Forest Service through an urban and community forestry grant made possible by the U.S. Forest Service’s Chesapeake Bay Program to the town of Greenwood and the Woodbridge School District.
“This project is a great example of how we can grow our natural resources and improve local environmental quality,” said Dr. Michael Valenti, Delaware State Forester. “We work closely with local governments to help them make their communities greener and healthier.”
“Trees represent nature’s original and most cost-effective option for improving water quality and reducing soil erosion and sedimentation. Trees should certainly be a central part of our long-range strategy to restore the Chesapeake Bay Watershed,” said Henry Poole, the Delaware Forest Service’s Assistant Forestry Administrator.
The towns of Laurel and Bethel partnered in submitting their request for support and were chosen to receive technical assistance from NFWF’s Local Government Capacity Building Initiative valued at $100,000. They will use the support to develop green infrastructure design and construction plans for projects along the Broad Creek in both communities. To be selected for the grant, the towns and partners are providing up $82,500 in matching funds or in-kind resources.
Laurel’s request focused on the design of projects that will reduce stormwater runoff from entering the town’s sewer system, resulting in extensive flooding along 6th Street and discharges into Broad Creek. The funding will be used to assess the capacity and condition of stormwater outfalls, identify potential restorations areas and design plans for the reduction and treatment of stormwater discharge, stream bank stabilization and a greenway connection to the three waterfront parks – Janosik, Broadcreek Walkway and Laurel River.
“Laurel town government and our citizens are proud of our record as good stewards of the environment,” said Mayor John J. Shwed. “Our new state-of-the-art waste water treatment plant built with state and federal assistance discharges excellent quality water to Broad Creek. This new project will build on that success by identifying ways to better control and reduce storm water runoff from entering Broad Creek or the WWTP. This environmental project will also enhance the recreation in the Laurel community by furthering our vision of a greenway connection from the Records Pond Dam on the east to Laurel River Park on the west.”
Bethel’s projects will include planning designs that address flooding and restoration improvements throughout the town. The funding will be used to develop engineering plans that eliminate flooding and will identify possible solutions to restoring the town’s historic section that may include a permeable pavement along South Street, a bio-retention area near the Town Wharf and a living shoreline and wetland area for an eroding section of Broad Creek.
“The Town of Bethel would like to thank the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency and DNREC for the opportunity to address the flooding and water quality issues with this generous support," said Jeff Hasting, President of the Bethel Town Council. “Bethel, with its shipbuilding heritage and its current, active agricultural community, has always been a diligent custodian of its historic and environmental assets. The funding will allow our town to continue this tradition in new ways that will benefit Bethel and all or our neighbors who share the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.”