DNREC sets workshop on revised strategy

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) opted to hold three additional public workshops this month on revisions to the proposed pollution control strategy (PCS) for the Inland Bays. The department is encouraging public attendance and participation at the workshops.

The final and most local of the three is set for Tuesday, May 24, at the Roxana fire hall.

The workshop will begin at 6 p.m. with a formal presentation, followed by rotating break-out groups that will discuss major changes in the proposed strategy since the workshops held in January and February.

DNREC Secretary John A. Hughes, a lifelong resident of Sussex County and former mayor of Rehoboth Beach, said the time has come for implementation of a strategy to control pollution in the bays.

“We’ve been studying the Inland Bays since 1969,” said Hughes. “It’s time to put measures in place that will mold the landscape in a manner that improves water quality for current residents and those who will live here in the future.

“The rapid development that is occurring in the watershed makes it imperative that we act now before we lose the opportunity to improve and protect these environmentally sensitive waterways. We must all join in preserving the environment that brought the majority of us here in the first place,” he concluded.

The revised draft of the Inland Bays Pollution Control Strategy that will be presented at the workshops is available on-line at the Department’s Web site at www.dnrec.state.de.us under “Hot Topics,” along with the associated comment forms.

Delaware’s Inland Bays, officials said, are impaired because of low dissolved oxygen levels and excess nutrients.

Accordingly, the proposed Pollution Control Strategy is designed to improve water quality to the extent that it achieves water quality standards. The strategy includes voluntary actions, as well as proposed regulations that would impact septic systems, development practices and stormwater management.

The document and its accompanying appendices outline changes DNREC officials said are needed to improve water quality in the Inland Bays, as well as background information leading to the arrival at those changes.

The revised PCS document outlines changes including:

• An emphasis on systematic elimination of all point sources of nitrogen and phosphorous to the Indian River, Indian River Bay, Rehoboth Bay and Little Assawoman Bay, on a regulatory basis;
• Eliminating previously proposed systematic elimination of the NRG (formerly Conectiv) power plant cooling water discharge under regulatory actions (the primary contaminant concern was temperature);
• Asking that the agriculture sector implement additional best management practices (BMPs) such that water quality standards are achieved (establishing goals for implementation levels of various BMPs);
• Adding decreased nutrient loading from urban non-point sources, both voluntarily and as a regulatory action;
• Requiring that if the nutrient budget shows that a targeted level of nutrient reduction on improved parcels is not possible, the nutrient budget must show that the project design incorporates BMPs that reduce nutrient loading to the maximum extent practicable;
• Exchanges a requirement to use all available “best available technologies” (BATs) when TMDLs cannot otherwise be met for the requirement that the project design incorporates BMPs that reduce nutrient loading to the maximum extent practicable;
• Noting that due to a federal lawsuit, Delaware is party to a memorandum of understanding with the Environmental Protection Agency that includes a schedule of when Delaware would complete TMDLs for the state’s impaired waters; and
• Adds the Delaware Forest Service as an agency charged with improving resources.

The bulk of the changes in the documents are in wording, but the above are a sample of some of the items — significant and otherwise — that will be discussed in more detail at the May 24 workshop. Some of the control items will primarily affect commercial enterprises, while others address residential non-point-source pollution such as lawn fertilization.

For more information on the proposed PCS or the workshop, contact Katherine Bunting-Howarth at (302) 739-4860 or (302) 739-4590, or Lyle Jones at (302) 739-4590.

DNREC officials are requesting that public comments on the document be sent by June 17, via e-mail to Katherine.howarth@state.de.us or lyle.jones@state.de.us, or mailed to the Watershed Assessment Section, 820 Silver Lake Boulevard, Suite 220, Dover, DE 19904.