Teamwork Accomplishes Delaware Archives Stormwater Upgrade
DOVER, Delaware, September 8, 2009 (ENS) - Several Delaware state and local agencies and a private company have joined together to complete upgrades to the stormwater pond at the Delaware Archives building on a river that was colonized as early as 1660.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, DNREC, the Kent Conservation District, the Office of Management and Budget's Division of Facilities Management, and the City of Dover are cooperating on the project behind the Delaware Archives building adjacent to the St. Jones River.

"This project is a perfect example of how all levels of government can work together to clean up the environment during these difficult financial times," said DNREC Secretary Collin O'Mara. "None of our respective agencies could have completed the project alone, yet together we upgraded a stormwater pond that will naturally improve water quality in the St. Jones."

The original stormwater pond on the Archives property showed signs of aging, including failing structural components. Severe erosion at the pond discharge point was also contributing sediment directly into the St. Jones River. The pond retrofit is expected to improve the quality of stormwater runoff entering the river from the parking lot, officials said.

Workers install pipes for the bioretention facility at the Delaware Archives. (Photo courtesy DNREC)

The Kent Conservation District, which was hired to complete the construction work, spent a month converting the poorly functioning stormwater quality management pond into a bioretention facility.

Bioretention is a newer technology that removes more pollutants than traditional pond approaches to stormwater management. Bioretention also allows less runoff while blending into the landscape.

Bioretention facilities are oftentimes mistaken for landscape islands, as they are planted with shrubs, grasses and flowers. The stormwater is directed to a depression filled with a special soil media that removes pollutants.

Coordinated by Beth Krumrine, an environmental scientist with DNREC's Sediment and Stormwater program, this project began more than three years ago when DNREC's Nonpoint Source program received $40,000 in U.S. EPA grant funds, plus $10,000 in other funding.

Although many sites in both Sussex and Kent counties were considered for retrofitting, the Delaware Archives pond required the fewest engineering modifications.

The site is strategically located near Legislative Mall and historic downtown Dover, where many passers-by can see the project with its educational signage.

All planning and engineering for the project was completed by staff from DNREC's Sediment and Stormwater Program.

Staff from DNREC's Drainage program performed all survey work, and worked closely with DNREC's Wetland and Subaqueous Lands Section and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on all wetland permitting issues.

As property owner, the Division of Facilities Management worked with DNREC staff to authorize the project, acquire permits, comment on engineering plans, and provide input on plant selection for the new facility.

A view of the St. Jones River as it runs through Dover, Delaware (Photo by Tim Kiser)

The City of Dover provided a disposal area for the excavated fill dirt in addition to information on the underlying sewer lines.

ACF Environmental, a local distributor for erosion control products, donated a Siltsack to protect the storm drain from sediment.

The Kent Conservation District constructed the project. "This was not the usual type of project for our Equipment Program," said District Coordinator Timothy Riley. "However, we saw this project as an opportunity to expand the technical expertise of our equipment staff and we appreciated the confidence placed in us when DNREC hired the district. It is this sort of collaboration that helps get these projects on the ground."

This part of what is now Kent County, Delaware was one of the state's earliest sites of English colonization, with plantations established along the St. Jones River as early as the 1660s.

The St. Jones River now begins at Silver Lake dam in the city of Dover and flows along the east side of downtown Dover, past the Delaware State Capitol and the Dover Air Force Base to Bowers, where it flows into Delaware Bay.

A portion of the lower St. Jones River, with its brackish marshes and salt marshes, open water habitats, and wetlands, has received federal protection as the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve, part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve system.

Copyright Environment News Service, ENS, 2009. All rights reserved.