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Christina River Basin Clean Water Partnership
The Importance of the Christina River Basin

The Christina River Basin drains portions of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland, and includes the Christina River (which eventually flows into the Delaware River in Wilmington, Del.), Brandywine Creek, White Clay Creek, and Red Clay Creek.

The Christina Basin provides water to over 500,000 people, including 75% of the water supply for New Castle County, Del. and more than 40% of the water supply for residents in Chester County, Pa. In addition, Brandywine Creek is the source of Wilmington's drinking water.

The watershed also provides important wildlife habitat, is a place of natural beauty and recreational opportunities for many to enjoy, and contains the White Clay Creek, a National Wild and Scenic River. But, with rapid growth occurring, in part from the cities of Wilmington and Philadelphia, the Christina Basin has experienced water quality concerns including nutrient pollution and the presence of toxic substances.

Download Christina River Basin Map (pdf 1.76 MB)

A Strong Partnership for Progress

The Christina Basin Clean Water Partnership, begun in 1995 as the Christina River Basin Water Quality Management Committee, is a cooperative partnership among multiple levels of government, along with private groups and the academic community. It develops a coordinated, scientific approach to improving water quality and meeting the water needs of the region. The sharing of federal funds, across state lines, between Pennsylvania and Delaware is just one example of this cooperation.

Members of the Christina Basin Clean Water Partnership include Brandywine Valley/Red Clay Valley Associations, Chester County Conservation District, Chester County Health Department, Chester County Planning Commission, Chester County Water Resources Authority, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Delaware Nature Society, Delaware River Basin Commission, New Castle Conservation District, New Castle County, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region III, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. National Park Service, and the University of Delaware Water Resources Agency.

Partnership Initiatives

Clean Water is Good Business Program, November 2002:

The Christina Basin Clean Water Partnerhsip hosted the "Clean Water is Good Business" program on November 18, 2002 in Kennett Square, Pa. Approximately 100 persons attended this program, which highlighted ongoing efforts to protect the interstate Christina River Watershed.

The keynote speakers were U.S. Representatives Joseph R. Pitts (Pa.-16th District) and Michael N. Castle (Del.-At Large), who represent most of the residents of the 565-square-mile interstate watershed. In addition to offering brief remarks, the congressmen shared copies of a joint letter they signed in strong support of a $1 million grant application to be submitted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of Delaware to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Watershed Initiative Grant program. The funds, if approved, would be used to continue the ongoing efforts to improve water quality in the Christina Basin. Those in attendance were invited to sign a letter of support which will be sent to EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman.

Irene Brooks, who represents Pennsylvania Governor Mark Schweiker on the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) and Kevin Donnelly, Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner's representative on the DRBC, welcomed the attendees. A "State of the Watershed" presentation was provided by Jan Bowers (Chester County Water Resources Authority) and Gerald Kauffman (University of Delaware Water Resources Agency).

The program also featured a panel discussion moderated by DRBC Executive Director Carol R. Collier. Panelists included Jack Arrell (Hy Tech Mushrooms), Richard P.S. Hannum (East Marlborough Township, Pa.), Jamie Jamison (Brandywine Nurseries), John Johnson (West Chester Fish, Game & Wildlife), and Ted Reed (Penn American Water Company).

Partnership Receives U.S. EPA Watershed Initiative Grant, May 2003:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on May 2, 2003 that the Christina River Basin had been selected to receive Watershed Initiative funding to support efforts to preserve and protect this interstate subbasin of the Delaware River Watershed. The Christina Basin Clean Water Partnership was one of only 20 community-based groups (out of 176 applications) receiving federal funding under the $15 million national program.

EPA Regional Administrator Donald S. Welsh formally presented the $1 million grant -- the full amount requested -- to the Christina Basin Clean Water Partnership at the Ashland Nature Center in Hockessin, Delaware on November 7, 2003. DRBC Executive Director Carol R. Collier accepted the ceremonial check on behalf of the partnership.

An Ongoing Success Story

The Christina Basin Targeted Watershed Grant Final Report was released in December 2008:

View final report (pdf 13 MB; University of Delaware Water Resources Agency's web site)

View U.S. EPA news release "Report Shows Progress Exceeding Plans in Christina River Basin" (issued 2/5/09; U.S. EPA's web site)

Christina Basin Targeted Initiative Watershed Grant Final Report (pdf 3.5 MB; presented at 5/6/09 DRBC Meeting by Jan Bowers and Jerry Kauffman)

 Examples of Best Management Practices (BMPs) being implemented in the Christina Basin:

  • Agricultural BMPs that have been installed in the watershed and include approximately 15,000 feet of protected stream corridors, 12 farm nutrient management plans, five barnyard runoff control projects, and five systems to exclude livestock from streams.
  • Residents are making use of over 200 rain barrels that have been purchased and distributed in the basin, capturing and using roof runoff that could otherwise contribute to excessive storm water.
  • A "Smartyards" program in Delaware assists homeowners with ecologically beneficial landscaping practices on their properties, such as using native plantings.
  • The Brandywine Valley Association, in coordination with the University of Delaware's Water Resources Agency, Chester County Water Resources Authority and Chester County Conservation District, conducts an annual tour to demonstrate the use of BMPs throughout the watershed.