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Repeal of Waters of the US rule could leave Delmarva Bays unprotected

Photo courtesy of EPA
Delmarva Bay

President Trump has started the process to repeal a piece of the Clean Water Act. And some First State wetlands could be left unprotected.


President Trump signed an executive order this week that begins rolling back the Waters of the United States rule.


This rule gives the federal government jurisdiction over things like wetlands and ditches that don’t have an obvious connection to a watershed.


In Delaware, that includes Delmarva Bays.


“These are small freshwater depression wetlands that are wet during the winter and spring months. And then they dry up during the summer and fall months,” said Mark Biddle, an environmental scientist with the State of Delaware.


He said Delmarva Bays are home to rare plant and animal species, and that’s why the state is trying to preserve them.


Delaware is offering incentives to landowners not to develop or disturb Delmarva Bays on their property. But the state faces a $350 million budget deficit this year, and these incentives could dry up.


Farmers in the state have complained the rule puts undue restrictions on them by requiring permits for irrigating land near ditches and streams.


Delaware has around 6,000 acres of Delmarva Bays, mainly in northern Kent County and southwest New Castle County.

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