2018 Wicomico River Health Report Shows Progress - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

2018 Wicomico River Health Report Shows Progress

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SALISBURY, Md. - Some things are better, some things are worse. That's the report card for the health of the Wicomico River as well as the ponds and creeks in the county. 

The report was released by the Wicomico Environment Trust and Wicomico Creekwatchers this week. It focuses on the quality of Wicomico's water in 2018. 

The report looked at a number of factors affecting the river and surrounding waterways. According to the report, levels of nitrogen indicate its improving in all parts of the river, while the levels appear to be increasing in the lower part of the river, ponds, and creeks. As for phosphorus, the study says levels have been steadily increasing while other areas have slightly worsened. 

The study also examines water clarity, which has improved significantly throughout the entire Wicomico River over the last decade. Bacteria remains another concern, which showed mixed patterns during 2018.

"In the areas where you might expect the least progress, the Upper Wicomico where all the development is, where the storm water is running off, the waste water treatment plants are flowing into the river... all of those things you'd expect that to be the toughest spot to make progress. Yet, that's when the most progress was made," Mayor Jake Day says.

He says the progress is partly due to the city's storm water utility it put in place. Day also says they've added more street sweepers to their fleet, which helps reduce nutrients from entering the river. All future projects the city does will also be done with protecting the river water in mind.

"We're going to be looking at other ways we can implement storm water management practices," Day says. "Real projects, [like] concrete, plant, mulch, etc., those real tangible projects alongside everything else we do."

Though the report finds highs and lows, the city says it marks four years of positive change in Salisbury.

"When we look at the area where we're directly impacting the upper Wicomico, I'm just proud that we've had four consecutive years of improving water clarity, four consecutive years of dropping nitrogen, dropping phosphorus and a better dynamic as far as chlorophyll and bacteria," Day says. 

Bob Hocutt with the Creekwatchers program says there was once a time that Schumaker Pond was a beach. But, he says he's seen improvement.

"It's nothing like it used to be. We'll all work together to try to return it to that way," Hocutt says.

There are plenty of ways everyone can get involved to help clean up the water in Wicomico County. The Wicomico Environment Trust says people can use lawn chemicals and fertilizers only sparingly, create "buffers" like native plants and trees that will soak up excess rain water, and use rain barrels to catch rain water coming from your roof. For the full report and more details on how you can help, visit: http://www.wicomicoenvironment.org/

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