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Nanticoke River report card shows little improvement in the past year

Nanticoke Watershed Alliance

The health of the Nanticoke River improved little in the past year according to its report card that was launched today (Thursday).

The report card noted that excessive nitrogen levels and low water clarity were the two biggest issues hurting the Nanticoke watershed.


“Total nitrogen in the watershed is the 'bad boy,' as I call it," said Beth Wasden, volunteer and outreach coordinator at the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance. "There’s a lot of problems with total nitrogen we’re also concerned about water clarity through the main stem of the river.”


The river was given a B minus, a slight improvement over its C plus last year, and the creeks received a B.


The grading of the watershed coincided with an event, where members of the public were invited to kayak and test water quality. They also got the opportunity to observe DNREC’s installation of floating wetlands, intended to lower nutrient overloading in the watershed, which can greatly benefit aquatic wildlife. Visitors helped evaluate water clarity using the “Sneaker Index," which involves seeing how deep one can wade into the water and see their feet.

“We definitely believe in the importance of connecting people with their local waterways. A lot of times there is a disconnect between people and really understanding that their actions and decisions can benefit or harm the waterways," said Wasden.

Other productive measures recommended by the report card include having residents use rain barrels and farmers use cover crops to divert unwanted amounts of nutrients from seeping into the Nanticoke watershed.

The Nanticoke River travels from southern Delaware to the lower eastern shore of Maryland. The 725,000-acre Nanticoke watershed is also the most biologically diverse watershed in the Delmarva peninsula, home to many threatened species such as the Atlantic sturgeon.