Brandywine Creek

Watersheds of the Piedmont
Brandywine Creek | Christina River | Naamans’ Creek | Red Clay Creek | Shellpot Creek | White Clay Creek

The Brandywine Creek watershed is one of four major watersheds in the 565 sq. mi. Christina Basin. The Christina Basin is part of the 13,000 sq. mi. Delaware River Basin. The Brandywine Creek is a tributary of the Christina River and flows southward out of the Piedmont geologic province in Pennsylvania and into Delaware near Wilmington. The creek flows through Wilmington and enters the Christina River just before the Christina River flows into the Delaware River. The majority of the watershed is located in Chester County (PA). Lower portions of the Brandywine Creek are under tidal influence. All together there are 48 municipalities in the two states that are either fully or partially within the watershed.
Land Uses
Major land use areas in the Brandywine include agriculture (45%) followed by forest/wetland (35%), and urban (19%) uses. Collectively the White Clay, Red Clay, and Brandywine creeks and upper Christina River are used to supply drinking water to more than 50% of New Castle County's population. The Brandywine Creek has six surface water intakes and numerous public water supply wells located within the watershed for public water supplies. Substantial groundwater resources exist within the vast majority of the Brandywine Creek watershed to serve as a significant source of water supplies. Several existing community water supply systems in the watershed rely on groundwater sources. The Brandywine Creek serves as a major source of drinking water supplies with four reservoirs (Chambers Lake, Marsh Creek, Rock Run, and Hoopes) supplying water to central Chester and northern New Castle Counties.
Wildlife and Fisheries
The Brandywine Creek provides the only sustainable smallmouth bass fishery in the state of Delaware. Beaver Creek (PA) is designated as naturally reproducing trout waters.
The Brandywine River Watershed received an overall wetland grade of C. Depression (C), flat (B-), and riverine (C) wetland types were assessed and graded (grade in parenthesis) in this watershed. The most common stressors to these wetlands were invasive plant species, ditching, and weir/dam/road in the wetland, and development and roads in the lands surrounding the wetland (buffer). The complete reports for this assessment will become available in 2022 online, data is currently available.
Nutrients and Bacteria
The nutrient and bacteria TMDLs for the Delaware portion of the Brandywine requires varied reductions based on the stream segment of between 0-62% reduction in nitrogen, between 0-77% reduction in phosphorus and between 29-95% reduction in bacteria.
The Brandywine Creek Watershed has a total of seventy-five sites listed in the Site Investigation and Restoration Section database. There are forty-one Brownfield program sites, eighteen sites that are in the Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP), fourteen sites that are state-fund lead (HSCA) and two sites that have undergone a preliminary assessment / site inspection (PA/SI).

Each of the sites is sampled through the programs listed above for a consistent suite of environmental contaminants. These contaminants are broadly classified as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds (SVOCs), Pesticides, Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and Metals as listed using USEPA and DNREC defined standards. When sites are adjacent to water bodies sediment samples are collected to assess potential impact from a site on the health of the waters. In water bodies of the Brandywine Creek Watershed, samples have indicated that PCBs and dioxins are present in the environment at levels requiring further attention under the Clean Water Act (1972). The Brandywine Creek Watershed is on the 303d list of impaired waters as well as having State of Delaware Fish Consumption Advisories for PCBs and, dioxins.

If you would like to view reports for any of the sites in the SIRS program please follow the link the DNREC Environmental Navigator to search by map for the Brandywine Creek Watershed.
Geology and Soils
The geology of the Brandywine Creek watershed is mostly crystalline rocks with a band of carbonate rocks in the north-central part of the watershed.
Cultural Resources
Hundreds of historic sites dot the watershed. Evidence of the economic development of the 18th and 19th centuries can be seen as numerous mills were built to utilize the extensive water power found in high gradient streams of the watershed. The watershed is also filled with covered bridges (5), and historic structures (over 130), districts (19), landmarks (3), and bridges (11).
Recreational Opportunities
Brandywine Creek is designated as a PA Scenic River from the PA-DE state line upstream to Mortonville Dam (West Branch Brandywine Creek) and to Downingtown (East Branch Brandywine Creek). The headwaters of the watershed are designated as High Quality Waters, and Broad Run is designated as an Exceptional Value watershed. County and State-Owned Recreational Resources include:
Marsh Creek State Park, PA (1,705 acres with a 535-acre lake)
Struble Lake, PA (146 acres)
Hibernia County Park, PA (890 acres)
Chambers Lake, PA (90 acres within Hibernia County Park)
Springton Manor Farm, PA (300 acres)
Struble Trail, PA
Further Resources