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News Releases from Region 03

In recognition of National Estuaries Week, EPA awards funding to support estuaries in Delaware, Maryland

Contact Information: 
EPA Region 3 Press Office (

PHILADELPHIA (September 25, 2020) – In celebration of National Estuaries week September 19-26, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced more than $2 million in grants to support three estuary programs in the Mid-Atlantic.

EPA’s National Estuary Program grants for 2020 include $712,550 for the Delaware Estuary Program; $662,500 for the Delaware Inland Bays and $662,500 for the Maryland Coastal Bays.

“Estuaries are essential in protecting water quality, providing critical habitat and reducing flood impacts to communities,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio.  “We’re proud that the National Estuary Program can assist these local efforts to protect and restore the water quality and ecological integrity of the Mid-Atlantic estuaries.”

The Delaware Estuary makes up slightly more than 50 percent of the Delaware River Basin. This includes each watershed that drains into the Delaware River, from the falls at Trenton, New Jersey, and Morrisville, Pennsylvania, all the way south to the mouth of Delaware Bay between Cape May, New Jersey, and Cape Henlopen, Delaware. 

The Delaware Estuary has contributed to jobs and economic activity from recreation, hunting and fishing, forest, agriculture and parks. Additionally, the estuary helps protect water quality in the Delaware River Basin, the source of drinking water for about 15 million people.

The Delaware Inland Bays are coastal lagoons, which are bays that lie behind a narrow barrier island that separates them from the Atlantic Ocean. Traveling down Route 1, through Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach and Fenwick, the Inland Bays lie to the west. They are unique places where ‘the rivers meet the sea’ and where freshwater flowing from the land and down tributaries mixes with seawater that flows through inlets carved into barrier islands.  Besides providing habitat for numerous rare plants and animals, the Bays’ beaches and tidal marshes shield communities from storm surges and rising seas.

The Maryland Coastal Bays estuary includes a watershed of more than 189,000 acres of land, 71,000 acres of water, 248 miles of shoreline, and nearly 35,000 acres of wetlands. Established in 1996, the Maryland Coastal Bays Program is a public-private partnership designed to restore and protect the local natural resources.  Living within its boundaries is a variety of wildlife, including 360 different types of birds as well as more than 108 rare, endangered, and threatened species.

National Estuaries Week is a nationwide celebration of our bays and estuaries and the many benefits they provide to local communities.  Each year, hundreds of organizations throughout the country host local events from beach cleanups and marsh restoration events, to kayaking tours. For more information on National Estuaries Week, visit: .

The National Estuary Program is an EPA place-based program to protect and restore the water quality and ecological integrity of estuaries of national significance. Currently, 28 estuaries located along the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts and in Puerto Rico are designated as National Estuaries. The program employs a watershed approach, using extensive public participation, collaborative problem solving and science-based approaches to address watershed challenges.  For more information on the program, visit: EPA -- Estuaries & the National Estuary Program

Estuary Background Video: What's an Estuary?