“The State of the Christina River”

Read the “State of the Christina River” courtesy of the Delaware Nature Society’s website

By Guest Blogger: Martha Corrozi Narvaez

Associate Policy Scientist, Water Resources Agency, Institute for Public Administration, University of Delaware

On an unseasonably warm Sunday in February I walked hand-in-hand with my 4-year old son along Wilmington’s riverwalk that parallels the magnificent Christina River. As we walked we passed by couples, families, runners, and people of all types with the musings of ice skaters in the background. My son and I talked about the ducks swimming by, the swift current carrying sticks and other debris and the “mean people” that littered their bottles and trash in the river. I couldn’t help but think that just a few years ago I would not have been able to share this experience with him. I am fortunate to share such an experience with him and I also feel fortunate that I understand the complexity and state of this river.

Christina River on a warm winter day.

Christina River on a warm winter day.

It is easy to see that the Christina River has undergone an urban renaissance resulting in the Chase Center, Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park, Christina Riverwalk, a variety of restaurants, high-rise residential buildings, the Blue Rocks stadium, and the DuPont Environmental Education Center’s wildlife refuge. This growth is spurred by people’s desire to be near the water and the aesthetic qualities it provides, yet beyond this beauty there is a complex, natural system at work.

The headwaters of the Christina River lie within the state of Maryland and enter Delaware west of Newark. The White Clay, Red Clay, and Brandywine creeks are tributaries of the Christina River. The Christina River is freshwater yet tidal from just south of the town of Christiana to its confluence with the Delaware River at Wilmington. Extensive tidal freshwater wetlands, including Churchmans Marsh, exist along the lower Christina. The majority of the Christina River watershed is located in New Castle County (DE). The Christina River is a mostly urbanized watershed with over 50% of the land cover developed. The watershed is the site of the Port of Wilmington, an important shipping link, and one of the largest importers of orange juice, Chilean grapes, bananas, and automobiles nationally.

Wilmington's Christina Riverfront

Wilmington’s Christina Riverfront

The Christina River has its share of historic contamination. There are numerous contaminated sites bordering the river. Samples have indicated that there are toxics present at elevated levels in the water bodies of the Christina River watershed and fish consumption advisories have been posted for the river. According to the USEPA’s water quality standards the Delaware portion of the Christina River requires varying levels of pollution reduction for nitrogen, phosphorus and bacteria.

Although the Christina River has fallen victim to years of industry, improper land use and anthropogenic influences the story of the river is a positive one. The state is working diligently to clean up and redevelop the toxic sites along the river. The Christina River is also demonstrating improving trends for many water quality parameters. According to a recent article on water quality trends in Delaware’s streams by Gerald Kauffman and Andrew Belden, water quality trend analysis for long term (1970/1980-2005) and short-term (1990-2005) trends show improvement in the Christina River for numerous water quality parameters including: dissolved oxygen (DO), total suspended sediment (TSS), total phosphorus (TP), and total Kjedahl nitrogen (TKN). Positive trends for these parameters indicate improving conditions in the river. Additional parameters, including bacteria, which levels have historically been increasing, show a leveling off for long-term and short-terms trends over this same time period, another good news story.

We know that the Christina River is not a pristine, natural river system yet research shows that there are positive signs for the health of the water body. The efforts by so many locally, state-wide and regionally to improve the water quality has had a positive impact. And as the riverfront becomes more popular and a destination in the region, it is my hope that individuals will learn more about the river and help protect this valuable resource through individual stewardship. And over the years as I continue to walk along the riverfront I will feel fortunate to be able to share this river, which inspires and motivates me, with so many people, especially my son.

Join us at DEEC on April 16 at 3:30pm for National Water Dance to celebrate the Christina River through dance performances and exploration of the marsh for the wildlife calling it home.

To find out more about efforts to improve and protect our waters or how you can have impact, check out the Clean Water: Delaware’s Clear Choice campaign website, Facebook, or Twitter!

 

Apply now for Edward W. Cooch, Jr. Environmental Scholarship

Edward CoochEdward W. Cooch, Jr. Environmental Scholarship
2016 Scholarship Guidelines

History

The Edward W. Cooch, Jr. Environmental Scholarship fund has been established to honor the late Edward W. Cooch, Jr. (1920-2010).  “Ned” as many of us knew him, was an avid environmentalist with a deep passion for the natural lands and water resources of the State of Delaware.  In 1982 Ned was one of the founders of the Christina Conservancy which promotes the preservation and restoration of the natural and historic resources of the Christina River Watershed.  Ned was one of the driving forces and an inspiration for the Christina River Watershed Cleanup, which was started in 1992, and has removed hundreds of tons of trash from the watershed.  Ned was an active member of the Delaware community and demonstrated a deep commitment to the natural environment.

Award

This $1,000 scholarship will be awarded to one student, selected by the scholarship committee, who demonstrates the ideals that Ned Cooch carried out in his daily life.

Eligibility

  1. Must be applying  to a properly accredited junior college, college, or university for the fall semester 2016;
  2. Must be a Delaware resident;
  3. Must be a senior in a Delaware high school or veteran of the U.S. armed services;
  4. Must have a grade point average of 3.0 or greater;
  5. Must major in an environmental field of study;
  6. Must demonstrate a strong interest in water resources and the environment (example: participate in river cleanups, engage in school Eco-club projects, elect to take environmental classes, etc.).

Selection Criteria

The recipient should possess a passionate interest in preserving, restoring and conserving water resources and the natural environment. This will be clearly communicated through described academic and career goals.

Deadline

All applications and supporting materials must be received by the Christina Conservancy Scholarship Committee at either the email address or mailing address listed below no later than April 15, 2016. Word and/or PDF files sent by email will be accepted by the due date.

Email Word or PDF files to: jrufft@gmail.com

Mail to: Christina Conservancy Scholarship Committee c/o Joanne Rufft 68 Shady Drive East Newark, DE 19713

For questions or more information please contact:

Joanne Rufft at 302-763-6412 or jrufft@gmail.com

Selection

The recipient will be chosen by the Christina Conservancy Scholarship Committee.  The Committee does not discriminate by age, race, color, national origin, disability, creed, or gender. Family members of the Scholarship Committee are not eligible. The decision of the Committee is final.

Notification of the winner will take place by the end of May 2016.  The Scholarship will be awarded in June 2016 at the Cooch Homestead.

To apply for the scholarship click on the link below to download the application:

To donate to the scholarship fund click on the link below: Contact the Christina Conservancy to Contribute to the Cooch Scholarship

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