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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : News : Nanticoke River grades “B-minus” for annual Report Card as river’s water quality continues to show improvement

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Contact: Phil Miller, DNREC Watershed Assessment and Management Section 302-739-9939

Nanticoke River grades “B-minus” for annual Report Card
as river’s water quality continues to show improvement

DOVER (Dec. 4, 2015) – Each year the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance releases a report card based on the health of the Nanticoke River – with the latest grades showing a “B-minus” for the river and a solid “B” for the creeks. The “river grade” is a measure of the health of the mainstem of the Nanticoke River, while the “creeks grade” assesses the health of the creeks that feed into the Nanticoke. Both grades are important indicators of the overall health of the watershed.

The Nanticoke watershed is Delaware’s main portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Any water within the Nanticoke watershed eventually reaches the Chesapeake Bay. The main factors indicating the relative health of the Nanticoke River are dissolved oxygen, water clarity, nitrogen, phosphorus, and chlorophyll a. The Delaware headwaters of the Nanticoke received high scores in 4 of the 5 categories including an “A+” for dissolved oxygen, an “A” for water clarity, an “A” for phosphorus and a “B” for chlorophyll a giving the headwaters an overall score of a “B.” Delaware’s other regions of the Nanticoke River scored average to above average with the Marshyhope Creek scoring a “B”, Broad Creek scoring a “B-minus” and upper Nanticoke scoring a “C+”. The latter underscores the need to continue reducing the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus entering these waterways.

Water quality grades are based on data collected by Nanticoke Creekwatchers, volunteer citizen scientists for the Nanticoke Watershed Alliance. Additional Nanticoke River watershed data comes from the Chesapeake Bay Program, including sites monitored by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge provided data from their volunteer program for the Fishing Bay watershed.

The final river scores for the 2014 report card were very similar to 2013, with water clarity continuing to be poor for the upper and lower Nanticoke. Phosphorus scores were moderately good, while nitrogen scores were poor and chlorophyll a scores were moderate. The final creeks scores were good for all regions, except for the lower creeks in Maryland. Nitrogen scores were poor in all creek regions, except for the lower creeks. Phosphorus scores were moderate in the lower creeks while good in the other creek regions. Chlorophyll a scores varied from good to moderate.

The Nanticoke Creekwatchers wrapped up the 2015 season of water quality testing last month and will be releasing the 2015 Nanticoke River Report Card sometime next year.

A copy of the 2014 Nanticoke River Report Card can be found at More information on the activities citizens can participate in to improve water quality can be found at

Vol. 45, No. 418

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