Wicomico River Watershed Planning
Wicomico River Watershed Characterization
The Wicomico River Watershed is 230 square miles in size and located on the lower eastern shore of Maryland. The headwaters drain a small portion of Sussex County, Delaware (1%) with the majority of the watershed contained in Wicomico County (69%) and Somerset County (30%), Maryland. The watershed drains to the Tangier Sound and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. The diverse watershed is composed of saltwater and freshwater tidal wetlands, productive agricultural land, superior recreational areas for boating, fishing, crabbing and other water-based activities; contains the Monie Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and a primary navigation hub in Salisbury, MD. The watershed contains a total of 481 linear stream miles of which 22 percent are impaired.
The watershed is dominated by agricultural (27%), wetland (25%), forest (18%), and developed (15%) land cover. The watershed has seven subwatersheds, the North Prong, South (East) Prong, Tony Tank, Shiles Creek, Wicomico Creek, Ellis Ba and Monie Bay. Local jurisdictions in the watershed are undertaking a number of activities to improve water quality in the Wicomico River. The development of a watershed plan guides these important activities by ensuring that the most appropriate and cost effective strategies are implemented to reduce pollution and restore watershed conditions.
Watershed Management Final Plan
Local jurisdictions in the Wicomico River Watershed are undertaking a number of activities to improve water quality in the Wicomico River. The development of a watershed plan helps to guide these important activities by ensuring that the most appropriate and cost effective strategies are implemented to reduce pollution and restore watershed conditions.
The primary elements of a watershed plan include: 1) a baseline assessment to characterize the current state of the watershed by examining all available data and reports; 2) field assessments to identify specific pollution problems and opportunities to reduce/eliminate their impact; and 3) writing and talking with vested stakeholders and the public about the benefits of comprehensive watershed assessment and restoration.
Field assessments have been conducted at the subwatershed scale in order to develop specific Action Plans for subwatershed restoration. Each action plan includes an implementation strategy and expected pollutant load reductions and costs for the identified projects as well as the identification of important areas to protect so that further water quality degradation can be avoided. The Wicomico River Watershed Plan includes a watershed characterization, and management plans for the East/South Prong and Tony Tank.
In June, 2012, field work was conducted in the 23.15 square mile South Prong subwatershed of the Wicomico River. The watershed field assessment strategy aimed to meet initial watershed restoration and protection goals outlined by the watershed planning Core Team and watershed stakeholders. These general watershed goals were to:
- Improve water quality
- Protect existing resources
- Restore watershed function
During these field assessments, the field crew teams, consisting of one Center staff and volunteers from the Wicomico Environmental Trust, Wicomico County, and other interested individuals, visited over 184 locations in the watershed and used one of four field assessment methodologies to evaluate the feasibility of implementing a management or restoration practice. Approximately 46 potential stormwater retrofit sites, 16 potential hotspot locations, 23 residential neighborhoods, and 8.4 miles of stream (26 stream reaches) were assessed in the South Prong subwatershed.
Project Partners: City of Salisbury,Wicomico County, Wicomico Environmental Trust, Wicomico Creekwatchers, Center for Watershed Protection
Funding Sources: National Fish and Wildlife Foundation & Chesapeake Bay Trust
We are grateful to our partners in completing the 2013 Wicomico River Watershed Management Plan. Thank you to the City of Salisbury, Wicomico County, the Wicomico Creekwatchers, Salisbury University, the Wicomico Neighborhood Congress, the Center for Watershed Protection, and the Wicomico River Project Team.
Update: The Lower Wicomico Conservation and Resiliency Plan
The Lower Wicomico Conservation and Resiliency Plan was completed through a partnership among the Lower Shore Land Trust, Ridge to Reefs and Lori A. Lilly Environmental Solutions. The work was generously funded through a Watershed Assistance Grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust. This plan completes the full Wicomico Watershed Management Plan, which has been ongoing in phases since 2012. Whereas the upper subwatershed action plans focus largely on restoration activities, this plan focuses more on protection and conservation of the valuable ecological resources in the lower four subwatersheds: Wicomico Creek, Shiles Creek, Monie Bay and Ellis Bay.