Delaware Center for the Island Bays releases State of the Bay Report
DELAWARE – The “2021 State of the Delaware Inland Bays” released its first health report on the water quality in the last 4 years.
Researchers have found that in the last 4 years, the overall quality of the bay has remained the same, keeping its “poor” rating that it received back in 2018.
The primary problem in the bay is nutrient pollution, which is excess nitrogen and phosphorus remains the number one problem of the inland bays. That pollution comes from a variety of sources which include wastewater, fertilizers, and animal waste that enter the bay through groundwater and surface runoff.
Marianne Walch says, “In healthy bays when nutrient levels are balanced, clear water allows bay grasses to grow, oxygen is plentiful and bay life thrives. So our report finds that there is way too much nitrogen and phosphorus going into our bays.”
Christophe Tulou, Executive Director of Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, says, “this lack of good quality and have lost the ability to fish to enjoy the water that’s near where they live because they are dead fish in it because the fish kills or too much algae that creates its own esthetic challenges, but they can’t fish and swim.”
A lot of the people in these communities can’t do a lot of the things that people in a healthy ecosystem would.
Bay grasses help with providing oxygen to the bay, and forests along the coast and in the marsh provide protection for homes along the waterfront. Walch says that the less marshland and forests along the coast make homes and businesses on the waterfront more susceptible to storm damage.
The organization’s biggest success is removing all the point sources of pollution from the bays. With the conversion of the Rehoboth treatment plant to Ocean outfall in 2018, all of the 13 point sources that have been around for the last 30 years have been removed entirely or mitigated.
In Sussex County, converting septic tanks to central sewer is important because central sewer service provides a much higher level of sewage treatment than septic systems do, as it helps reduce nutrient inputs to the bays. As of 2021, nearly 53,000 household units have been converted to sewer service.