Broadkill Watershed Wetland Assessment

The Broadkill River watershed in Sussex County encompasses 68,500 acres within the Delaware Bay and Estuary Basin. Twenty percent of the watershed is covered in wetlands.

In 2010 DNREC researchers assessed the tidal and nontidal wetlands located within the watershed to determine the overall condition and status of the present wetlands. The project documented the conversion of 75 acres of freshwater wetlands into development or agricultural use.

Coastal wetlands in Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge and Broadkill beaches were lost to development and conversion to open water. However, it was determined that there was an overall increase in wetland acreage due to the creation of low-functioning stormwater retention ponds.

Long-Term Goals

With an overall condition grade of a C+, is imperative to support the valuable resources within the Broadkill River watershed.

Based on this study, several recommendations were made to improve management and encourage informed decision making. These included:

  1. Improve the protection of forested flats and other types of non-tidal wetlands through state and local regulations.
  2. Enhance the non-tidal wetland buffer regulations and codes to improve water quality, support wildlife habitat, and maintain flood water retention.
  3. Update tidal wetland regulatory maps to guide the state of Delaware on wetland permitting.
  4. Develop incentives to maintain natural buffers of tidal wetlands to provide protection from sea level rise and extreme storm events.
  5. Control the extent and spread of non-native, invasive common reed (Phragmites australis).
  6. Improve enforcement of wetland permitting and mitigation monitoring.
  7. Design a wetland restoration plan for the Lower Delaware Bay Basin that includes the Broadkill River watershed.

Watershed Assessment Report

Next Steps – Developing a Broadkill River Watershed Restoration Plan

The wetland assessment data garnered from this study will be used to design a restoration strategy for the Delaware Bay Watershed. The plan will be developed by an interagency team of scientists and managers.

Opportunities for both increasing wetland quality and quantity in target areas will be identified by integrating the data from the wetland monitoring and assessment program with data from other strategies and efforts.

For more information about the Condition Report, contact Alison Rogerson, at 302-739-9939.

A coastal wetland landscape photo, A broad river flows through a tidal marsh with a line of upland woods in the distance and a wind turbine on the right.