A recent study called the Clean Water Act at 50 Report was compiled by the Environmental Integrity Project. The study found that 97 percent of streams and rivers in Delaware are too polluted to support aquatic life. They also pose a danger to anyone who wants to go swimming.
The Environmental Integrity Project compiled the study results in its recently published Clean Water Act at 50 Report. The report does not paint a healthy picture of the condition of local rivers and freshwater supplies, finding that the rivers in Delaware are among the nation’s most polluted.
The report found that algae blooms, nitrates, and fecal bacteria make the state’s rivers and stream unhealthy for any public use. Those uses include drinking water, fishing, and various forms of water recreation.
The water-quality report rates the water quality in Delaware as the worst in the nation. The report says there are three common factors impacting Delaware rivers and streams. Those three factors are:
While Delaware ranks very poorly for water quality, the state has initiated efforts to mitigate the problem. Officials with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control use many monitoring tools to reduce toxic contamination of local waterways. State officials also are considering ways to create buffers that will help to prevent continued water contamination.
Agricultural runoff happens when rain washes fertilizers and pesticides into local water sources. Whether the chemicals leach into the groundwater or are washed into nearby creeks, streams, and rivers, the end result can be devastating to the local ecology.
Agricultural runoff causes algae blooms that can become dangerous for fish or humans to contact. Other contaminants also can pollute the many rivers in Delaware. Many Delaware rivers are reeling from the effects of agricultural runoff that has occurred during much of the past 100 years.
Sometimes, entire communities are affected by identifiable sources of water pollution. For example, more than 600 residents of Millsboro claimed runoff from a nearby slaughterhouse contaminated their drinking water.
The residents said the local drinking water supply became contaminated with nitrates. They said the nitrates came from the slaughterhouse and left them with no available clean drinking water.
A court in April 2021 approved a $65 million settlement for the affected Millsboro residents. The case illustrates how entire communities could be cut off from clean and healthful drinking water.
The Clean Water Act at 50 report shows that Delaware has 4,470 miles of rivers and streams flowing throughout it. It also shows that 1,901 miles of those waterways are too polluted for any kind of use.
The impairments include 1,074 miles that are deemed too polluted to support aquatic life. The report says another 827 miles of rivers and streams are too polluted to support contact with the water during recreational activities.
The Environmental Protection Agency says most of the pollution comes from runoff from farms, urban centers, and suburban communities.
If you or your family is suffering from water contamination issues, an experienced Delaware environmental lawyer at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A., could help to build a strong case. You can call 302-656-5445 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at one of our law offices in Wilmington and Millsboro, Delaware. We represent clients in Dover, New Castle County, Sussex County, and throughout Delaware.