delware environmental institute

Wetland restoration project completed on Greenwood farm

NEWS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL
 
For more information, contact Tom Barthelmeh, Wetland Restoration Program, 302-739-9921, or Joanna Wilson, Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.
 
Wetland restoration project completed on Greenwood farm
 
GREENWOOD (Nov. 18, 2010) – Last fall, poultry producer Doug Vanderwende attended a presentation about nutrient management and wetland restoration projects, prompting him to contact DNREC’s Drainage Program about a wetland project on his Greenwood farm. He provided a sketch that served as the basis for the project that was constructed last summer by the Sussex Conservation District and DNREC Drainage staff.

 
On Nov. 6, middle schoolers from the Conservation Club at Phillis Wheatley Middle School in Bridgeville completed the restored wetland at Doug and Debbie Vanderwende’s Locust Grove Farm by planting wetland grasses, sedges, rushes and shrubs as part of the wetland’s natural filter system.
 
“This project is a great example of the work we’ve been promoting for the last few years in partnership with the Department of Agriculture and the agricultural community to improve the water quality of runoff from poultry production areas,” said Tom Barthelmeh, DNREC Environmental Program Manager. “Doug Vanderwende came to us with a solid conceptual design for a very unique and timely project.”
 
The plan involved constructing a wetland treatment system within a three-acre section of a field, using existing irrigation system wheel tracks as dividers for multiple wetland cells (areas). These restored wetland cells now filter runoff from two poultry houses, two manure structures, a sheep pasture and agricultural fields before entering the tax ditch system.
 
“The native vegetation planted by the students will absorb excess nutrients, resulting in cleaner water being released into the tax ditch system, which drains into the Chesapeake Bay Watershed,” Barthelmeh said.
 
“My kids have heard how wetlands serve as filters and help clean our water by filtering out pollutants. Now they can say, ‘I helped restore a wetland,’ and feel great about the experience,” said Conservation Club Advisor Pam Vanderwende. She also noted a heron was already enjoying the new habitat and called the whole experience “memorable, rewarding and very educational” for club members as well as two families from the Peach Blossom 4-H Club who volunteered their time.
 
“Projects like the Locust Grove wetland represent the commitment Delaware farmers have made to improve our water quality and to do what is best for our environment by cooperating and working together. Water quality is everyone’s responsibility,” said Larry Towle, administrator of the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Management Program. “Equally important, this project involved the next generation of conservationists in hands-on learning to be good stewards of the environment.”
 
The Locust Grove Farm project is one of many wetland restoration projects that will be implemented in Delaware in the next few years. Wetland restoration is a key component in a new multi-state, multi-phase plan to improve water quality by reducing excess nutrients and sediment entering the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The EPA is currently in the process of setting new total maximum daily load (TMDL) limits for phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment that come from the watershed and enter the streams, rivers and Bay.
 
Six states within the Chesapeake watershed – Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and New York, plus the District of Columbia – are working with the EPA to prepare implementation plans to meet these new limits, with the goal of having all actions in place by 2025. DNREC is preparing to submit Delaware’s final phase 1 plan to the EPA in late November.
 
For more information about ecological restoration projects including wetlands, please contact Tom Barthelmeh, Wetland Restoration Program, at 302-739-9921.