Spotlights

New Castle County continues to investigate solutions for two neighborhoods off Route 9 that are surrounded by heavy industry. A County-commissioned survey last year found roughly half of residents in Eden Park Gardens and Hamilton Park would be likely to move away if given fair value for their homes or financial assistance.

The question of how low-lying coastal communities will adapt to the rising seas and more extreme weather caused by climate change is increasingly making it into the public consciousness. That’s especially true in Delaware, which is particularly vulnerable because its land is sinking at the same time as waters are rising. One strategy that’s often listed as a possibility, but rarely discussed in depth, is simply getting out of the way.

To the north and east of his 126-acre farm at the corner of Fowler Beach Road, dozens of gray stalks of leafless and lifeless trees litter the landscape’s edge. The same saltwater that killed those trees and created one of the state’s most striking ghost forests has left chunks of Wells’ fields barren.

The 28th annual Christina River Watershed Cleanup sent volunteers to pick up trash at 13 sites in northern New Castle County Saturday. Experts say the river’s main problems are excess nitrogen and sediment, largely from farms upstream.

On World Water Day, March 22, scientists and students examined this subject at a symposium titled The Future of Water in the Mid-Atlantic: Agriculture, Restoration and Technology at Stroud Water Research Center. The event was sponsored by the Delaware Environmental Institute (DENIN) at the University of Delaware, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and Stroud.

The environment is diverse, dynamic and teeming with questions. How do striped bass larvae identify a safe place to grow? Can we combat pollution in the Arctic by modifying the routes of cargo ships? How much would you pay for a Delaware-raised oyster? Those were among the topics examined at the Delaware Environmental Institute (DENIN) student conference on March 7 at University of Delaware. The goal was to showcase the work of graduate students, provide an opportunity to network with peers and mentors, and learn about other environmental research taking place throughout the University.

Photo of Don Sparks

At the grassroots level, enlightened minds and willing hearts will make a big difference in saving our planet. We must educate consumers to make wise choices in their everyday lives.

As rising seas raise more urgent questions about how to defend Delaware’s low-lying shore, environmentalists and state authorities are renewing their advocacy for “living shorelines” as a way of cushioning the impact of higher waters on coastal property and the natural environment.

Wicked problems are complicated, and made up of competing human needs that push and pull on each other. We need to use water, grow food, and manufacture goods. Yet these essential activities are what pollute our water, and polluted water will affect our ability to continue to do these things and to live healthy lives. So how can we prevent the downward spiral and work toward a sustainable balance of present and future needs of Delawareans? To make real progress, solutions must come from multiple sectors working together — industry, private citizens, government, nonprofit organizations, and academia. Fortunately, this effort is getting a major new boost. The state of Delaware and the National Science Foundation have come together to devote $23 million toward a new project entitled “Water in the Changing Coastal Environment of Delaware” (Project WiCCED). Project WiCCED will address Delaware’s wicked water problems and will better prepare us to take on these challenges today and in the future.

Students in the University of Delaware’s “Introduction to Environmental Literature” class regularly put aside their books and journals and head out of the classroom to a nearby state park.