Estuary News Issue 4, 2023

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IN THIS ISSUE 2023 State of the Estuary Rating is “Fair” PAGE 4

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Experience the Estuary Celebration: A Night to Remember in Philadelphia PAGE 8

Mini-Grants:

Federal Funds Bring Environmental Justice to Urban Communities PAGE 10

THE PARTNERSHIP FOR THE DELAWARE ESTUARY

CONNECTING PEOPLE, SCIENCE, AND NATURE FOR A HEALTHY DELAWARE RIVER AND BAY

NEWSLETTER OF THE PARTNERSHIP FOR THE DELAWARE ESTUARY — HOST OF THE DELAWARE ESTUARY PROGRAM

Getting PDE Where it Wants to Be

ESTUARY

New Research Boat:

NEWS VOLUME 33 NUMBER 4 | 2023


EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE

COMMITTEES CONTACT LIST

Dear Friends of PDE,

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just returned from a week-long National Estuary Program (NEP) conference in Portland, Oregon, with the directors of the 27 other NEPs. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn about the other NEPs’ work and share PDE’s success stories. Although our programs are very different, we share a deep passion for our nation’s estuaries and the guiding principle that clean water is a human right. This issue of Estuary News tells many stories that dig into what we have accomplished in 2023. We started the year sharing the Technical Report for the Delaware Estuary and Basin (TREB) at the 2023 Delaware Estuary Science and Environmental Summit, and now we are ending the year by publishing the State of the Estuary. This report, created every five years, provides a check-up on the health of the Delaware River Watershed. With the overall health of the Delaware River and Bay being just “fair,” we have lots of work ahead of us to continue making progress in addressing environmental challenges. Fortunately, many people in our region are working together to realize cleaner waters, healthier habitats, and stronger communities. As you read through the State of the Estuary story in this newsletter, I encourage you to go to the report on our website (www.delawareestuary. org/SOE23) to dig into the “What is Being Done?” and “Things You Can Do” sections to learn more and get connected. Another big accomplishment in 2023 that’s covered in this issue of Estuary News is our work to expand access to funding for underserved and disadvantaged communities in Philadelphia, Wilmington, Delaware, Camden, New Jersey, and Chester, Pennsylvania. Working with our local Urban Waters partners representing government agencies, community organizations, academia, and other non-profit organizations, we are working with neighborhood leaders to provide funding for on-theground projects and technical support to help build capacity. Look for more about this work in the next edition of Estuary News. With the end of 2023 quickly approaching, plans are well underway for 2024. Please check out the volunteer and learning opportunities that are just around the corner on page 11. I wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy holiday season. Thank you for supporting our organization and being a part of the work going on in our region to improve its environmental health, access, and sustainability!

Meetings conducted by the Delaware Estuary Program’s implementation and advisory committees occur on a regular basis and are open to the public. For meeting dates and times, please contact the individuals listed below: Estuary Implementation Committee Kathy Klein Partnership for the Delaware Estuary Executive Director (Chair) (800) 445-4935, ext. 102 kklein@DelawareEstuary.org

Monitoring Advisory & Coordination Committee Elaine Panuccio Water Restoration Scientist, Water Quality Assessment Delaware River Basin Commission (609) 883-9500, ext. 307 elaine.panuccio@drbc.gov

Toxics Advisory Committee Jeremy Conkle Senior Toxicologist Delaware River Basin Commission (609) 883-9500 Jeremy.Conkle@drbc.gov

Science and Technical Advisory Committee LeeAnn Haaf, Ph.D. Partnership for the Delaware Estuary Assistant Director of Estuary Science (800) 445-4935, ext. 116 lhaaf@DelawareEstuary.org

Water Quality Advisory Committee John Yagecic, P.E. Manager, Water Quality Assessment Delaware River Basin Commission (609) 883-9500, ext. 271 john.yagecic@drbc.nj.gov

ON THE COVER A great blue heron goes fishing at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge near Smyrna, Delaware.

With Gratitude,

KATHY KLEIN, Executive Director, Partnership for the Delaware Estuary

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MAKING WAVES

TIDINGS

New Research Boat Will Take PDE Where the Roads Don’t Go

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eet RV Tkuweyo, a 20-foot-long G3 Jon boat with a Yamaha outboard motor. This new research boat comes to the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary through a trio of corporate, foundation, and government support. PDE is eternally grateful to Yamaha Rightwaters, Aqua Pennsylvania, and the Environmental Protection Agency under an Assistance Agreement funded by the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for making this possible. Tkuweyo, the Lenape word for “waves,” is a tribute to the first stewards of the Delaware Estuary

region and its waterways. The Delaware River Watershed was Lenape tribal lands before colonial settlement, and Tkuweyo became the boat’s name by popular vote via social media. A research vessel has been on PDE’s wish list for more than a decade. Not having a boat has been challenging for PDE’s scientists, who spend an estimated 60 days a year in the wetlands and the area’s waterways. “This boat will allow us to continue and expand our research activities and will be a significant cost savings by not having to rent

Facts About PDE’s New Boat BRAND: Yamaha

TYPE:

CAPACITY:

Up to 6 people, depending on weight/equipment

Side Console G3 Gator Tough Jon Series, with a 95-horse-powered outboard motor

WHEN IT WILL BE USED:

LENGTH:

NAME:

20 Feet

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During the field season, which typically runs from April to October

a boat,” said PDE’s Program Director Martha Maxwell-Doyle. “The versatility and stability of the G3 hull will allow us to access remote tidal wetlands in the estuary safely and will be a huge help with the installation of nature-based shoreline projects. It creates new on-the-water opportunities for PDE’s staff, especially in the urban areas of the estuary.” A Jon boat is a flat-bottomed boat, typically made of aluminum or wood, with one, two, or three bench seats. It is a popular vessel for fishing and hunting in shallow waters, such as lakes, rivers, and ponds. Jon boats are known for their stability and ability to navigate in calm waters, especially in locations where other boats with deeper drafts may have difficulty operating. They are often used for recreational activities like fishing, hunting, and transportation in shallow and calm waters. “A Jon boat offers us the flexibility to navigate many of the challenging shallow tidal waterways in the Delaware Estuary,” says LeeAnn Haaf, PDE’s Assistant Director of Estuary Science. “It will really allow us independence in getting to the remote locations that we use to study the Estuary — where hiking trails and roads cannot take us.” HEALTHY HABITATS/ GOAL 1: PREVENT WETLAND LOSS/ STRATEGIES 1–4

Tkuweyo

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ESTUARY BASICS

2023 STATE OF THE ESTUARY

DELAWARE ESTUARY AND WATERSHED OVERALL RATING

What’s “Fair” in the State of the Estuary?

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hances are you are one of the more than 13 million people whose water comes from the Delaware River Watershed. About 6 billion gallons of water is used daily in the watershed, which contains a network of rivers, streams and communities which contains a network of rivers, streams, and communities across 42 counties in

Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York. Every time you get a drink of water, fill your pet’s water dish, or wash your dishes, the water flowing out of the tap ultimately comes from the Delaware River or one of the many rivers and streams that feed it. The Delaware Estuary Program’s 2023 State of the Estuary Report gives an overall “fair” health rating of the Delaware River Watershed, which includes the area defined as the Delaware Estuary. “The State of the Estuary Report is a snapshot in time and overall assessment of the health of our estuary and targets a broad audience,” said Dorina Frizzera, co-chair of the Delaware Estuary Program’s Science and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC).

Kelly Faller, PDE’s Science Coordinator, gets a closer look at wetland wildlife from a kayak.

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State of the Estuary continued from page 4

The Delaware River and Watershed have maintained a “fair” rating since 2012. But what does “fair” mean? The “fair” rating is a composite result of ranking various indicators, from water quality to fish and wildlife abundance, to assess the watershed’s overall health. Some factors are getting better or holding steady, while others are getting worse. Put all these things together, and the overall result is “fair.” Some studies show that oxygen levels in the Delaware River are improving due to stronger water quality protections. Conversely, with increased development and a growing population in the area, we’re losing forests and other natural spaces that will help filter water supplies and

The fair rating is a composite result of comparing various indicators, from water quality to fish and wildlife abundance, to assess the watershed’s overall health. Some factors are getting better or holding steady, while others are getting worse. Put all these things together, and the overall result is ‘fair’.

mitigate flooding now and in the future. Atlantic sturgeon numbers are rising, but the striped bass population remains a concern. “A ‘fair’ overall assessment means people should be proud of all the accomplishments made to date, but know that their hard work

isn’t over and more still needs to be done,” said STAC co-chair Gregory Lech. This fair rating is notable in a time of unprecedented and overwhelming forces of environmental change. Despite growing impacts on our natural resources stemming from population growth, development pressure, and climate change, the fair rating reflects significant habitat protection and restoration efforts. The 2023 State of the Estuary Report gets its information from the 2022 Technical Report for the Delaware Estuary and Basin (TREB), produced every five years. Data in the TREB helps scientists, land and resources managers, and the general public understand how the health of the Delaware Estuary and Basin is faring and where specific trends are headed. Armed with this information, we can collectively understand and plan how best to maintain the

watershed’s health and what areas we might need to focus on next. “The TREB tells the story of where we have come from, where we are today, and where we hope to be tomorrow,” Frizzera said. “The findings contained in the TREB are not only for informational purposes but also intended to inform technical and policy-level decisions.”

The 2023 State of the Estuary includes several indicators of the Delaware River Watershed’s overall health. These indicators include sea-level rise, land, and water. continued on page 6

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State of the Estuary continued from page 5

The State of the Estuary Report focuses on a subset of 14 of the 60-plus indicators evaluated in the TREB. Each section of the State of the Estuary reviews each subset indicator and provides links for readers to learn further information and what actions they can take to make a difference.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP THE ESTUARY? Want to help the Delaware Estuary but don’t know where to start? There are easy steps you can take to improve the health of our region’s waterways. These steps might seem small, but the cumulative effect could be enormous. •

Put trash in a trash can. Litter on the ground and around storm drains washes into our waterways.

Pick up your dog’s waste off the street and in your yard. Like litter, stormwater carries pet waste into our waterways and pollutes them.

Participate in local drug take-back programs or obtain drug disposal packets at the pharmacy instead of flushing prescription drugs down the toilet.

Put food grease and oil in a separate container for trash disposal instead of pouring it down the drain.

“The Delaware Estuary not only comprises the river, bay, and coastal areas and watersheds of three states, but it also interacts with the larger ocean system,” Frizzera said. “We cannot forget that this is a working estuary; it has many wonderful natural/biological resources; provides drinking water and recreational opportunities;

Horseshoe crabs crawl along the shore at Slaughter Beach, Delaware. Research indicates that the status of these living fossils remains poor. continued on page 7

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State of the Estuary continued from page 6

website, www.delawareestuary.org/SOE23. For more details, the TREB is available at www.delawareestuary.org/data-and-reports/treb/.

An osprey flies from its nest in Fortescue, New Jersey. The State of the Estuary Report status for osprey in the Delaware Estuary remains good. Photo by Aaron Maffei.

COVERS ALL CCMP GOALS AND STRATEGIES

and is the hub of social and economic drivers of the region, but it is also in an urban setting facing many challenges.”

Ken Williamson, PDE’s Restoration Support Specialist, stands in a marsh in New Jersey. Tidal wetlands have a “fair” status rating but are getting worse due to rising sea levels and human activity.

PDE invites you to check out the full version of the State of the Estuary report, recently published. on our

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TIDINGS

A Night to Remember

PARTNERSHIP FOR THE DELAWARE ESTUARY HOLDS ITS EXPERIENCE THE ESTUARY CELEBRATION IN PHILADELPHIA 1

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reat food and drinks, live music, and excellent company made for a magical evening as PDE hosted its Experience the Estuary Celebration. More than 300 friends and supporters of PDE turned out

in Philadelphia on October 12 for this annual fundraising gala to support our organization’s mission and projects. Attendees sampled five varieties of local Delaware Bay oysters at the ever-popular raw bar. PDE staff had a variety of games and

activities for our guests to enjoy including trivial wheels, dog pollution corn hole, and native plant identification games. Also on display was our two-tank mussel filtration highlighting the cleaning power of these bivalves. Finally, guests were able to leave continued on page 8

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A Night to Remember continued from page 8

their mark by writing their name or message on oyster shells destined for living shoreline projects. Guests also walked away with

items from our silent auction, such as theater tickets, museum tours, wine-tasting classes, fine jewelry, outdoor gear, pet pampering gifts, and more.

PDE sincerely thanks all of our sponsors and guests who help make this event possible! We look forward to seeing you again next fall!

To view more photos from the event, visit our Flickr page at https://bit.ly/2023Experience

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1. Dan Broderick and Jonathan Hill-Rorie of Ørsted enjoy cocktails before dinner at the Experience the Estuary Celebration. 2. Guests peruse the silent auction items such as fine jewelry, theater tickets, and more. 3. Leah Morgan, PDE’s Senior Science Coordinator, left,

and Jecy Klinkam, PDE’s Restoration Specialist, talk to guests about PDE’s oyster shell recycling program and the water-cleansing power of mussels. 4. Milissa Hirst of Carollo Engineers, left, shares some conversation with Nicole Brown, Chairwoman of PDE’s Board of Directors. 5.Everyone’s a winner when they play the dog waste trivial game wtih Chesa Blom, PDE’s Philadelphia Community Outreach Coordinator.

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TIDINGS

PDE EXPANDS ACCESS TO ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE FUNDING FOR COMMUNITIES By Erica Rossetti, PDE’s Urban Waters Program Coordinator

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iverfront cities in the Delaware Estuary disproportionately face environmental injustices. From Trenton, New Jersey, to Wilmington, Delaware, residents in disadvantaged communities more frequently face flooding, heat waves, hazardous waste, and other pollution in their neighborhoods.

Congratulations to Recipients of the 2023 Urban Waters Delaware River Location Mini-Grants:

Thanks to an innovative mini-grant program from Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE) and the Urban Waters Federal Partnership (UWFP), eight small community organizations in Delaware, Pennsylvania,

Awbury Arboretum (Philadelphia): $5,324 for the “Awbury Watercourse Habitat Restoration” riparian planting project along the Wingohocking Creek. Chester Ridley Crum Watershed Association (Chester): $11,000 for the “Naturalization and Stewardship of the Barry Bridge Norris Street Waterfront Connection” waterfront restoration and educational signage project. Cornerstone West CDC (Wilmington): $9,487.50 for the “Connell Street Park Eco Zone” planting and educational signage project.

Chester Ridley Crum Watershed Association received an $11,000 grant from Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE) and the Urban Waters Federal Partnership (UWFP).

and New Jersey are getting more than $75,000 – up to $11,000 each – in federal funds to address environmental challenges. The grants will fund community improvement projects to address those challenges, ranging from stormwater flooding to air pollution. PDE is working to secure additional funding to support projects that empower residents to improve and steward land, water, and wildlife. These projects have been funded wholly or in part by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation and by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under an Assistance Agreement funded by the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The activities supported by this funding do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the EPA or NFWF. For more information on the Urban Waters Federal Partnership’s Delaware River Location, hosted by PDE, visit: www.DelawareEstuary.org/save-the-estuary/urban-waters. STRONG COMMUNITIES: GOAL 1/ INCREASE COMMUNITY RESILIENCE AND ACCESS/ STRATEGIES 1-2 VOLUME 33 | ISSUE 4

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Delaware Riverkeeper Network (Camden): $10,203.60 for “Camden Greening” tree plantings at three waterfront sites. Empowered CDC (Philadelphia): $11,000 for the “Cecil Street Garden” community gardening and youth empowerment project. Nicetown-Tioga Improvement Team (Philadelphia): $11,000 for “Take Care, Take Action” neighborhood garden corps and Unity and Healing Gardens restoration project. Philly Thrive (Philadelphia): $11,000 for “Green Space for Grays Ferry” resident environmental field trips and rain garden project. Riverfront North Partnership (Philadelphia): $8,283 for “River Trail Access at Pennypack on the Delaware” riverfront trail restoration and planting project.

PARTNERSHIP FOR THE DELAWARE ESTUARY


ESTUARY EVENTS

RASCL SUMMIT

9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday, January 17, 2024 Del-One Conference Center on the Campus of Delaware Technical Community College, Dover, Delaware Join the Resilient and Sustainable Communities League (RASCL) when it holds its 2024 summit with the theme, “Leading the Charge: Empowering Our Communities for a Sustainable Delaware.” Presenters will equip community leaders with the resources needed to transition to renewable energy. Workshops will discuss and debunk myths, cite examples of where renewable energy has succeeded, and provide resources. To see photos from last year’s Summit, visit: https://bit.ly/22RASCLSummit.

DELAWARE TRASH INTO TREASURE ART CONTEST Now through Jan. 31, 2024

Artwork by Christina Holubinka

Delaware Artists: Express yourself about the importance of clean water and maybe win a prize! PDE will hold the second Delaware Trash Into Treasure Art Contest with the 2024 Christina River Watershed Cleanup with funding support from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. Any Delaware resident age 18 years and older is eligible to enter our art contest to raise awareness about the importance of clean waterways. Interested in entering? Go to our website at https://bit.ly/ChristinaCleanup and click on the entry form with contest rules and more information.

SCHUYLKILL SCRUB March 1 through May 31, 2024 Locations Throughout the Schuylkill River Watershed Live in Philadelphia or the surrounding area? This spring, volunteer for The Schuylkill Scrub. The Schuylkill Scrub, organized by the Schuylkill Action Network (SAN), is a series of yearly litter cleanups within the Schuylkill River Watershed. To create or find a cleanup in your area, download the CleanSweep app. For more information about the the cleanup and the SAN, visit www.schuylkillwaters.org.

CHRISTINA RIVER WATERSHED CLEANUP 8 to 11 a.m., Saturday, April 13 Locations Throughout the Christina River Watershed April is Earth Month, and the Christina River Watershed Cleanup in Delaware is a fantastic opportunity to do something for the environment. This April, spend just a few hours making the Christina River Watershed cleaner and healthier. Last year, 750 volunteers pitched in at 13 sites throughout northern New Castle County. Check the official website, www.christinarivercleanup.org, for more details. STRONG COMMUNITIES/ GOAL 1: INCREASE COMMUNITY RESILIENCE AND ACCESS/ STRATEGIES 1-4 STRONG COMMUNITIES/ GOAL 2: IMPROVE PUBLIC AWARENESS AND STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT/ STRATEGY C2.4: DEVELOP AND PROMOTE PROGRAMS WITH LOCAL COMMUNITIES AND PARTNERS THAT FOSTER VOLUNTEER STEWARDSHIP AND EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING

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THE PARTNERSHIP FOR THE DELAWARE ESTUARY

CONNECTING PEOPLE, SCIENCE, AND NATURE FOR A HEALTHY DELAWARE RIVER AND BAY The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Inc. (PDE), is a nonprofit organization established in 1996. PDE is the host of the Delaware Estuary Program and leads science-based and collaborative efforts to improve the tidal Delaware River and Bay, which spans Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. To find out how you can become one of our partners, call PDE at (800) 445-4935 or visit our website at www.DelawareEstuary.org. Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Inc.

Kathy Klein (800) 445-4935, ext. 102 kklein@DelawareEstuary.org

Environmental Protection Agency

Irene Purdy, Region II (212) 637-3794 purdy.irene@epa.gov Megan Mackey, Region III (215) 814-5534 mackey.megan@epa.gov

Pennsylvania

New Jersey

Sandra Insalaco PA Department of Environmental Protection (570) 826-5489 sinsalaco@pa.gov

Lynette Lurig NJ Department of Environmental Protection (609) 633-1314 lynette.lurig@dep.nj.gov

Delaware

Delaware River Basin Commission

Rachael Phillos DE Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (302) 735-3411 Rachael.Phillos@delaware.gov

Chad Pindar (609) 883-9500, ext. 268 chad.pindar@drbc.gov

Estuary News encourages reprinting of its articles in other publications. Estuary News is produced four times annually by the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Inc. (PDE), under an assistance agreement (CE-99398516-1) with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The purpose of this newsletter is to provide an open, informative dialogue on issues related to PDE. The viewpoints expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of PDE or EPA, nor does mention of names, commercial products or causes constitute endorsement or recommendation for use. For information about the PDE, call 1-800-445-4935. VOLUME 33 | ISSUE 4

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Philadelphia Water Department

Will Whalon (267) 207-0937 william.whalon@phila.gov

Editor

Kate Layton (800) 445-4935, ext. 113 klayton@DelawareEstuary.org

PRINTED ON RECYCLED PAPER

Unless otherwise noted, all photos are property of the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary.

PARTNERSHIP FOR THE DELAWARE ESTUARY


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