Pocomoke River

Watersheds of the Chesapeake Bay
Bohemia Creek | Broad Creek | C&D Canal West | Chester River | Choptank River | Deep Creek | Elk River | Gravelly Branch | Gum Branch | Marshyhope Creek | Nanticoke River | Perch Creek | Pocomoke River | Sassafras River | Wicomico River

  
Map
  
Background
The Pocomoke River Watershed is comprised of roughly 16,000 acres in southern Sussex County. The 9-mile long main stem of the river in Delaware rises in southwest of Millsboro and flows south to the Maryland border. The river eventually discharges to the lower Chesapeake Bay.
  
Land Uses
Land use within the watershed is dominated by agricultural uses and wetland areas.

The headwaters and tributaries of the Pocomoke River encompass a portion of the area known as the Great Cypress Swamp. Much of the Pocomoke River and its tributaries have been greatly altered by wide and deeply cut dredge channels. As a result, the riparian floodplain community has been severely affected, with the wetland habitat of the floodplain swamp forests reduced to a remnant of its former self. Bald cypress remains only in sporadic stands in this watershed following the extensive 18th and 19th century logging, drainage, and subsequent wildfires that have greatly altered the hydrology and consequently, available habitat.
  
Wildlife and Fisheries
Naturally occuring bald cypress are a rare species in Delaware. This tree species has a relatively limited distribution and is found in only four watersheds in the state including the Pocomoke River Watershed.
  
Nutrients and Bacteria
There are no point sources in the watershed; therefore, all pollutants are generated from nonpoint sources within the watershed.

The following designated uses are applied to the Pocomoke watershed: primary contact recreation, secondary contact recreation, fish, aquatic life and wildlife, agricultural water supply and industrial water supply.

The TMDLs for the Pocomoke Watershed require a 55% reduction in nitrogen load, a 55% reduction in phosphorus load, and a 30% reduction in bacteria load.

EPA established a Total Maximum Daily Load for nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment for the entire Chesapeake Bay Watershed. This TMDL requires reductions of approximately 24% for nitrogen and 20% for phosphorus between 2009 and 2025 from all of the Chesapeake watersheds within Delaware. Sediment loads from Delaware's portion of the Chesapeake must remain at 2009 levels under this TMDL.
  
Contaminants
The Pocomoke River Watershed has two sites listed in the Site Investigation and Restoration Section database. The two sites are state-fund lead (HSCA) sites.

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 Pocomoke River Watershed.
  
Geology and Soils
The United States Geological Survey describes the upper Pocomoke watershed by saying "Soils are generally moderately permeable but poorly drained and the water table is shallow. Ditches to promote drainage of agricultural fields are common."
  
Further Resources