Murderkill River

Watersheds of the Delaware Bay & Estuary Basin
Appoquinimink River | Army Creek | Blackbird Creek | Broadkill River | C&D Canal East | Cedar Creek | Delaware Bay | Delaware River | Dragon Run Creek | Leipsic River | Little Creek | Mispillion River | Murderkill River | Red Lion Creek | Smyrna River | St. Jones River

The Murderkill River watershed is located in the southeastern portion of Kent County. It is bounded on the south by the Mispillion watershed, on the east by the Delaware Bay, and on the north and west by the St. Jones River and Marshyhope Creek watersheds respectively. It is comprised of 68,000 acres of land. The main watercourse is the Murderkill River with its headwaters just west of Felton. Flowing generally eastward, the length from the headwaters to its mouth on Delaware Bay at Bowers Beach is 20.5 miles. The lower 10.5 miles are tidal. Two important ponds, Coursey Pond and Killens Pond, are both on the Murderkill.
Land Uses
The Murderkill Watershed is dominated by agriculture land use followed by forest and wetlands.
Water Quality
Please go to the Land/Ocean Biogeochemical Observatory (LOBO) site to see the latest real-time water conditions at the mouth of the Murderkill! This station represents the state-of-the-art in water condition and quality monitoring.
Located in Kent County, Delaware, the Murderkill watershed covers 69,000 acres within the Delaware Bay and Estuary Basin. This watershed contains many key natural heritage and wildlife habitats such as coastal plain streams and ponds, impoundments, wetlands and beach dunes. Rare wetland habitats including coastal plain ponds and bald cypress riverine patches are located in the watershed. Research conducted by DNREC in 2008-2009 evaluated changes in wetland acreage and health in the Murderkill River watershed. A watershed comparison of pre-settlement state wetland inventory to present state wetland inventory shows a 38 percent loss in wetland acreage. Many of the remaining wetlands in this watershed have been altered by human activity receiving an overall grade of C+ and thus are not in perfect health.

Tidal (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 forestry, invasive plant species, storm water inputs, excavation, filling, and ditching in the wetland, and development, and agriculture in the lands surrounding the wetland (buffer). The complete reports and data for this assessment are available online.
Nutrients and Bacteria
The nutrient and bacteria TMDLs for the Murderkill Watershed require 30% reductions in nonpoint nitrogen loads, 50% reductions in nonpoint phosphorus loads, 32% reductions in nonpoint freshwater bacteria loads, and 67% reductions in nonpoint marine bacteria loads. Also the TMDLs require a limit on point source nitrogen to 755.3 lbs/day, a limit on point source phophorus to 62.7 lbs/day, and a limit on point source bacteria at 35 CFU/100 ml. The designated uses for the Murderkill include primary recreation, secondary recreation, fish, aquatic life and wildlife, industrial water supply, and agricultural water supply in freshwater segments.
The Murderkill River Watershed has five sites listed in the Site Investigation and Restoration Section database. Four sites are state-fund lead (HSCA) sites, and one site is in the Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP) .

Each of the sites is sampled through the program 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.

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 Murderkill River Watershed.
Geology and Soils
Land in this watershed may be classified as dominantly level to gently sloping. The Murderkill River Watershed has predominately well-drained soils. Tidal marsh soils occupy 6% of the landscape and are found in the flood plains below the dams of Andrews Lake, McGinnis Pond, Courseys Pond, and McColley Pond and along the Delaware Bay. Broadkill, Missipilion, Westbrook, Honga, Bestpitch and Transquaking are the tidal brackish soils found in the flood plains of the watershed. Poorly drained soils, predominantly Longmarsh and Indiantown, along with some occurrences of Chicone and Zekiah, can be found above the dams in the non-tidal flood plains. The well-drained upland soils are predominately Downer and Ingleside with small areas of moderately well-drained Hammonton soils in slight depressions. A few Sassafras soils occur on level landscapes. In the headwater areas of the Murderkill River, poorly drained
Hurlock and Mullica soils are found. Some well to excessively well-drained sandy soils (Galestown and Evesboro soils) are found near the ponds. In shallow depressions throughout the watershed, Hammonton and Hurlock soils are encountered.
Recreational Opportunities
Killens Pond State Park is found in the Murderkill Watershed. Natural and recreational opportunities abound at Killens Pond State Park with a 66 acre millpond which features fishing and boating. Canoes, kayaks, rowboats and pedal boats can be rented during the summer. The Murderkill Canoe Trail provides a challenge for the most adventurous paddler. The all new Killens Pond Water Park offers resort entertainment in a serene, natural setting. Open year-round the park's campground and cabins are popular retreats no matter what the season. Hiking trails and a cross country course wind through several types of habitat. A number of game courts, ball fields, disc golf, playgrounds, and picnic areas are also found in the park.
Flora and Forest Communities
The rare species of naturally occuring bald cypress trees is found in only four watersheds in the state, one of which is the Murderkill. Also, significant remaining populations of Atlantic White Cedar are also found in the Murderkill.
Further Resources