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Delaware Gets Grant to Help National Study of Water Pollutants - Will Help Scientists Determine Better Health Standards for U.S. Waterways

Release Date: 11/9/1999
Contact Information: Roy Seneca (215) 814-5567

Roy Seneca (215) 814-5567

PHILADELPHIA - Delaware will assist in a nationwide study of nutrient pollution, which scientists believe is responsible for toxic outbreaks that killed tens of thousands of fish in some East and Gulf Coast waterways in recent years.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a $45,000 grant to Delaware to compile water quality data on eutrophication - a condition that leads to excessive growth of harmful algae and low levels of oxygen in water, leaving little room for healthy and diverse species of fin fish, shellfish and aquatic plants. The abundance of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus in waterways is a known cause of eutrophication.

State reports nationwide show nutrients as one of the leading causes of their water quality problems. Typically, nutrients end up in rivers, lakes and streams as a consequence of polluted runoff from agricultural land, lawns, construction sites, golf courses and parking lots and pavements that get washed away during heavy rainfall and snow melts.

Delaware’s Department of atural Resources and Environmental Control will use the grant to examine 10 years worth of water quality data to determine if there is a relationship between nutrients in its waterways and the health of rivers, lakes and streams. The work will also help Delaware establish criteria for safe levels of nutrients in its waterways.

Under the Clean Water Action Plan, EPA is responsible for establishing new criteria for nutrients by 2000. Delaware’s work will be considered in EPA’s effort to protect public health and aquatic life.