Alliance, legislation good news for Bayshore region
Speaking with one voice is wise when dealing with state and federal agencies.
That's just what the Bay Beach Association is doing. The group comprises representatives from incorporated towns and unincorporated areas in the 27 miles of Delaware Bayshore along the Delaware Bay.
Spokesman Ted Becker, former Lewes mayor, made a Jan. 10 presentation to Sussex County Council asking for funds to spearhead the group into an action phase. Kent County and the towns have already committed funding.
The association is gearing up to take advantage of the recently passed Water Resources Development Act of 2022. The act redefines the role of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by eliminating red tape and increasing funding to address pressing issues quicker.
There is no doubt that primary sponsors U.S. Sen. Tom Carper and U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester had the Delaware Bayshore in mind when updating the legislation.
While beach replenishment projects are commonplace from Fenwick Island to Rehoboth Beach, the same attention has not always been paid to bay beaches.
Included in the legislation is funding to provide greater support to all Delaware beaches following damaging storms; long-overdue dredging of the Murderkill River at Bowers Beach; funding for University of Delaware research on water quality, ecosystem restoration and emergency shoreline management; and $35 million for each Delaware county for environmental infrastructure projects to support safe drinking water, and wastewater and stormwater management.
Funding has also changed, as the Army Corps now funds 90% of projects, with the state covering the rest.
Much work needs to be done to improve and protect Bayshore-area waterways and towns, including dredging of the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal and replenishment of Lewes Beach. Nearly $4 million was allocated to the dredging project last January. Many are anxious for the work to get underway and to see plans for beach nourishment in Lewes.
We applaud our legislators for their work. We will join with the Bay Beach Association in keeping a watchful eye to make sure words become actions to protect and enhance the fragile Bayshore ecosystem.
Maintaining open waterways, protecting beaches and preserving habitat are critical to maintain the recreational, natural and economic vitality of the Bayshore region.