In a first-ever initiative, the Inland Bays Foundation (IBF) has sent a petition to Shawn Garvin, regional administrator of the EPA, Region III, in Philadelphia. IBF is requesting that EPA designate and regulate small municipal separate stormwater systems (MS4’s) discharging into the Inland Bays Watershed.
IBF representatives said that, as documented by the extensive sampling done through the University of Delaware’s Citizen Monitoring Program, and other scientific efforts, such discharges are responsible for high levels of pollution in the Inland Bays.
MS4 systems are set up to monitor (and target for remediation) high levels of pollution in the waterways, with measurements known as “Total Maximum Daily Loads” (TMDLs). The measurements monitor the levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, bacteria and other toxins.
Nancy Cabrera-Santos, IBF president, said, “I am asking for concrete action to clean up the pollution in our inland bays. The time has come to develop a solid plan with specific TMDLs for all the waterways polluting the bays. Our petition cites the high levels of enterococcus bacteria found in the Anchorage Canal in South Bethany (up to 2,500 times acceptable levels as set by DNREC) as one troubled example in our watershed.”
MS4 designations have been made throughout the state of Delaware. Examples are cities such as Seaford and Laurel that fall within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
“Sadly, this is not the case in our own Inland Bays Watershed, where a patchwork quilt of ‘voluntary’ efforts are more the norm,” Cabrera-Santos said.
Statewide, up to 90 percent of the waterways are considered impaired for swimming or fishing, which she called “a disgrace that must be addressed for the benefit of our future and that of our children.”
To read the petition in its entirety, go to www.inlandbaysfoundation.org.