Smyrna 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 Smyrna River watershed, located in the northeastern corner of Kent County, is bounded on the west and south by the Chester River and Leipsic River watersheds respectively, on the east by Delaware Bay and to the north by the Appoquinimink River watershed. This watershed extends north into New Castle County. The major water course is the Smyrna River which forms part of Kent County's northern boundary and New Castle County's southern boundary. The Smyrna River generally flows in a northeasterly direction. The lower ten miles are tidal. The drainage area of the Smyrna River Watershed is 64 square miles.
Land Uses
Land use is mostly agricultural. There are two incorporated areas in the watershed, Smyrna and Clayton.
The Smyrna River watershed wetland assessment area encompasses 71 square miles and is composed of three sub-watersheds: Smyrna River, Duck Creek, and Cedar Swamp-Delaware Bay. It is located partially in Kent County and partially in New Castle County. The watershed is within the Delaware Bay and Estuary Basin, all its waters drain into the Delaware Bay. Land cover in this watershed is dominated by agriculture and wetlands. Of these wetlands, nearly half are saltwater, and the other half are freshwater. These wetlands are beneficial resources for both people and wildlife.

Unfortunately, approximately 32% of historic wetland area in this watershed has been lost to conversion to development and agriculture. Based on field data, wetlands in the Smyrna River watershed received an overall condition grade of B-, indicating that these wetlands are functioning slightly below their full potential. This also presents an opportunity for improvements through stewardship, conservation, and restoration.

Tidal (B-), depression (C), flat (B-), and riverine (D+) wetland types were assessed and graded (grade in parenthesis) in this watershed. The most common stressors to these wetlands were invasive plant species, ditching, excavation and filling in the wetland, and development, agriculture, and roads 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 Smyrna River Watershed require 40% reductions in phosphorus and nitrogen loads and 75% reduction in bacteria loads. The designated uses for the Smyrna River include primary recreation, secondary recreation, fish, aquatic life and wildlife, industrial water supply, and agricultural water supply in freshwater segments.
The Smyrna River Watershed has fifteen sites listed in the Site Investigation and Restoration Section database. Seven sites are state-fund lead (HSCA) sites, three sites are in the Brownfield program, two sites are in the Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP), two sites have undergone a preliminary assessment / site inspection (PA/SI) and there is one site National Priorities List (NPL) site.

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 Smyrna River Watershed.
Further Resources