Christina-Brandywine River Remediation Restoration Resilience

The Christina-Brandywine River Remediation Restoration Resilience (CBR4) project is an initiative to address legacy toxic contamination, restore the native ecology and prepare for the changing climate as well as other threats to river health in the lower Christina River and tidal Brandywine River.

On Jan. 26, 2023, local, state, federal and private sector partners gathered for a Restoring Wilmington’s Rivers Conference to review CBR4 projects, share knowledge, expand the team and think globally.

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The CBR4 Team

River History Planning and Research Success Stories Get Involved

Virtual Information Room

Find CBR4 project goals and strategies and a survey to help define future efforts

In alignment with the Watershed Approach to Toxics Assessment and Restoration program (WATAR), the project goal is to make the rivers fishable, swimmable and drinkable in the shortest timeframe possible.

CBR4 success will take multiple years to achieve, will require the efforts of various partners and will continue stepwise as project funding becomes available. The current phase, from 2021 through 2022, has two projects advancing simultaneously: the initiation of a sediment remediation feasibility study and a planning effort that seeks to articulate the strategies and framework needed to restore the lower Christina and Brandywine rivers to a healthy condition.

Learn more about the project on DNREC’s Outdoor Delaware online magazine: Ambitious DNREC Initiative Aims to Revitalize the Christina and Brandywine Rivers


CBR4 will have lasting direct and indirect benefits to the state, including:

  • water quality and sediment quality improvements;
  • reductions in and eventual removal of fish consumption advisories in the lower Christina Basin;
  • restoration of fish and wildlife habitat to the banks, nearshore areas and wetlands of the Christina River and the Brandywine Creek;
  • capacity to lessen the impact of flooding to nearby businesses and communities;
  • encouraging safe and appropriate access to the rivers for a multitude of recreational activities;
  • enhancing a point of attraction to visitors and businesses wishing to establish themselves along the Wilmington waterfront in our great state; and
  • providing a national model for watershed improvement projects in Delaware that uses a holistic approach to address multiple environmental issues in an urban context.

Project Area

CBR4 Project Area Map

The project area is defined as the Christina River from Interstate-95 east of Newport to its mouth at the Delaware River, and the Brandywine River from Market Street to its mouth at the Christina River.

The area is important culturally and economically, with several historic neighborhoods, buildings and cultural sites, in addition to a major port and transportation hub.

Some of Wilmington’s most vulnerable communities are located along the banks of the lower Christina and Brandywine rivers.

Neighborhoods such as Southbridge and Northeast have been heavily impacted by past contamination and flooding and should benefit from and have a say in remediation, restoration and recreational activities.

Feasibility Study

DNREC’s WATAR team is working with several contractors to develop a conceptual site model (CSM) and ultimately conduct a sediment remediation feasibility study (FS) for the lower Christina and Brandywine Rivers.

The first step is determining if any data gaps exist within the current dataset of contaminant and sediment quality data. The CSM will help to identify and prioritize any remaining upland sources of contamination.

Finally, the FS will determine the best approaches/technologies to remediate the legacy contaminant sources in sediments and provide an evaluation of potential costs. It will also be used in the planning process when identifying possible restoration and coastal resilience implementation projects.


American Rivers and the Christina Conservancy were awarded a two-year grant in fall of 2020 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to engage with experts, the public and stakeholders to create a long-term remediation, restoration and resiliency plan for the lower Christina and Brandywine rivers.

That planning effort has resulted in A Plan for Restoring Wilmington’s Rivers, published in 2023.

This plan provides a compelling vision for a future Christina-Brandywine Riverfront that thrives economically and environmentally, and a practical blueprint to guide decision-making and to leverage resources for key projects and activities.

Combining remediation and restoration projects provides long-term solutions.

The Project Team

The CBR4 Project Team includes professionals from a variety of public and private entities.

Collaborate Northeast and the South Wilmington Planning Network are also assisting in engaging local community residents in planning efforts.