Controlling Nonpoint Source Pollution from Agricultural Areas Restores Abbott’s Mill Pond
Runoff from agricultural and residential areas caused high bacteria levels in Delaware’s Abbott’s Mill Pond. As a result, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) added the pond to the 1998 Clean Water Act (CWA) section 303(d) list of impaired waters for bacteria. Watershed stakeholders provided technical assistance and nstalled agricultural best management practices (BMPs) in the pond’s watershed, causing bacteria levels to decline. As a result, DNREC removed Abbott’s Mill Pond from the state’s 2006 list of impaired waters for bacteria.
Primary sources of nonpoint source pollution in the watershed is likely to include runoff from agricultural activities (e.g., fertilizer and manure application), concentrated areas of animal production and failing septic systems.
The Sussex and Kent County conservation districts (SCD and KCD, respectively) offered technical assistance to the farming community by providing nutrient management planning and cost-share funding for agricultural BMPs. The conservation districts also partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop conservation plans and Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) contracts. Between 2002 and 2014, watershed partners worked with landowners to enroll an average of 1,400 acres of cover crop per year and implement nutrient management plans on approximately 100 percent of available lands.
In addition, several BMPs were installed on poultry operations within the watershed, including 13 manure storage structures, 11 composters, and 25 heavy use protection areas. The SCD and KCD Planners continue to work with farmers throughout the watershed, providing ongoing technical assistance to ensure improved water quality.
Delaware’s USDA Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) was established in 1999 to protect and enhance environmentally sensitive land and waters in the coastal plain geographic areas of the Delaware, Chesapeake and Inland Bays watersheds by establishing voluntary land retirement agreements with agricultural producers. To assist in CREP program
development and implementation, in 1999 Delaware’s Nonpoint Source Program committed CWA section 319 funds to create a full-time Delaware CREP Program Coordinator position. Between 1999 and 2014, the CREP Program Coordinator helped install 4.9 acres of wildlife plantings, 15 acres of grass buffers, 3.5 acres of wetland restoration, and 187 acres of hardwood trees in the Abbott’s Mill Pond watershed.
Bacteria levels in the pond have decreased in response to the more than 10 years of water quality protection and restoration efforts in the Mispillion River watershed (Figure 2). DNREC collected monitoring data at two stations in Abbott’s Mill Pond between September 2000 and August 2005. In one station, the geometric mean of the 22 samples collected over the 5-year period was 50 cfu/100 mL. In the other station, 16 samples showed a geometric mean of 53 cfu/100ml. Since both were well below Delaware’s fresh water bacteria water quality standard of 100 cfu/100 mL, DNREC removed the 25-acre Abbott’s Mill Pond (DE-210-L06) from the state’s list of impaired waters in 2006.