Brandywine Creek || Christina River || Naamans Creek || Red Clay Creek || Shellpot Creek || White Clay Creek
White Clay Creek
The White Clay Creek watershed is one of four major watersheds in the Christina Basin. The Christina Basin is part of the Delaware River Basin. The White Clay Creek is a tributary of the Christina River and flows southward out of Pennsylvania and into Delaware near Newark. The northern portion of the watershed in Chester County, Pennsylvania includes the East, Middle, and West Branches of the White Clay Creek. The White Clay Creek flows southeast into New Castle County, Delaware and is joined by Middle Run and Pike and Mill Creeks before emptying into the Christina River. Lower portions of the White Clay Creek are under tidal influence.
In 2000, the President signed a law adding 190 miles of the White Clay Creek and its tributaries to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The White Clay Creek is the first Wild and Scenic River in the United States designated on a watershed basis rather than a river corridor.
Collectively the White Clay, Red Clay, and Brandywine creeks and Christina River are used to supply drinking water to more than 50% of New Castle County's population. The surface water of the White Clay Creek and the aquifers in the watershed provide over 100,000 residents with drinking water. The White Clay Creek serves as a major drinking water source for much of northern Delaware. Delaware and Pennsylvania residents in the White Clay Creek watershed also receive a significant amount of their water supply from groundwater resources in the watershed.
The Pennsylvania portion of the watershed is largely rural with a few small towns and villages, such as West Grove and Avondale, and some suburban clusters. The Delaware portion of the watershed includes the City of Newark and is highly suburbanized, although several very large tracts of public open space remain intact and flank the river.
Plants and Wildlife
Recreation and Culture
View from the pedestrian bridge, White Clay Creek State Park, near Newark, DE.
Photo credit: Andrew Homsey
Square Miles (total): 107.3
Square Miles (DE): 46.2
Population (total)*: 125,773
Population (DE)*: 94,178
States: DE, PA, MD
Counties: DE: New Castle PA: Chester MD: Cecil
*Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 5-year estimates, 2019.
Land cover (total)†
Land cover within Delaware†
†Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office for Coastal Management. 2016 C-CAP Regional Land Cover. Coastal Change Analysis Program (C-CAP) Regional Land Cover..