The St. Jones Watershed is located in the central portion of Kent County. It is bounded on the south by the Murderkill River watershed, on the east by the Delaware Bay, on the north and northeast by the Leipsic River and Little Creek watersheds, and on the west by the Choptank River watersheds. It drains 90 square miles of land. The major watercourse in the watershed is the St. Jones River which has its headwaters in the western part of the county, about 22 miles upstream from the Delaware Bay. Significant ponds in the watershed are Silver Lake, Moores Lake, and Wyoming Lake. Flat wetlands, usually forested, exist mostly in the upper portion of the watershed and eventually drain into creeks and streams. Nontidal riverine wetlands and tidal wetlands line the banks of the river, sometimes up to 1/2 mile wide toward the mouth of the river. Wetlands comprise 9,669 acres of the watershed and provide critical services such as nutrient removal, erosion control, habitat for plants and wildlife, flood reduction, and storm water storage to the citizens of Delaware. The extent to which wetlands can perform these functions and thrive in the future depends on their health.
The St. Jones Watershed is the most populated watershed in Kent County although it still has a lot of agriculture within its borders.
Wetlands provide valuable and often irreplaceable services on the landscape. They contribute to our quality of life by protecting us from floods and storm damage, providing habitat for rare plants and animals, and purifying our water. They store water during storms thereby reducing flooding, serve as nursery grounds for commercial fisheries, and provide recreation and education opportunities.
In Delaware, we have lost about half of our original wetlands and many of our remaining wetlands have been degraded by human activities. The St. Jones River watershed has lost over 47% of its wetlands. In the watershed, the overall condition of wetlands is C+, average condition of wetland types scored a C for riverine
, a B for flats
, and a C for tidal
. This supports the need to prevent additional loss and focus on improving the health of the remaining wetlands so that they can continue to provide services to the citizens of Delaware. The complete reports and data for this assessment are available online.
The nutrient and bacteria TMDLs for the St. Jones River Watershed require 40% reductions in nonpoint phosphorus and nitrogen loads and 90% reduction in nonpoint bacteria loads. Also the TMDLs require a limit on point source nitrogen to 9.2 lbs/day, a limit on point source phophorus to 0.37 lbs/day, and point source bacteria loads to 1.67E+09 colony forming units (CFU) per day. The designated uses for the St. Jones include primary recreation, secondary recreation, fish, aquatic life and wildlife, industrial water supply, and agricultural water supply in freshwater segments.
The Saint Jones River Watershed has a total of forty-four sites listed in the Site Investigation and Restoration Section
database. There are twenty-nine state-fund lead (HSCA)
sites, nine sites in the Brownfield program
, eight Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP)
sites, six sites have undergone a preliminary assessment / site inspection (PA/SI) and there are two National Priorities List (NPL)
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)
, 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 Saint Jones River Watershed, samples have indicated that PCBs, dioxin
, mercury, arsenic and DDT are present in the environment at levels requiring further attention under the Clean Water Act (1972)
. The Saint Jones River Watershed is on the 303d list of impaired waters as well as having State of Delaware Fish Consumption Advisories
for PCBs, dioxin and mercury.
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 Saint Jones River Watershed.
The area is generally level to gently sloping, and the soils are characterized as having high to very high agricultural productivity.
Historically, the river has endured ditching and dredging to straighten the main channel to facilitate the transportation of goods from nearby farms and businesses. The river served as a highway to larger cities. These alterations have affected the marsh's vegetation communities and possibly lead to the spread of the invasive species Phragmites.
The St. Jones Watershed is home to one of the few significant populations of Atlantic White Cedar in the state.