Tax Ditch Final rev 22 by fdh56iuoui


									                                       Delawareʼs Drainage and Water Management Practices
        The Need for Water Management                                                                                                                                                      Environmentally Friendly Channel Construction
The average annual rainfall
in Delaware usually exceeds                                                                          Newark
                                                                                                                                   What is a Tax Ditch?                                                              For more than 15 years the Department has
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     focused on constructing environmentally-
plant needs and evaporation                                                                                                                                                                                          friendly water management projects. This
                                                                                                                                         A tax ditch is a governmental
rates. The result is drainage                                                                                                                                                                                        initiative has resulted in the development
                                                                                                                                     subdivision of the State. It is a
and flooding problems for                                                                                                                                                                                            of a list of proven practices that, when
                                                                                                                                    watershed-based organization formed
agricultural areas, as well as                                                                                                                                                                                       implemented, minimizes environmental
                                                                                                                                   by a prescribed legal process in Superior
towns, cities, rural communities                                                                                                                                                                                     impacts from the construction and
                                                                                                                                   Court. The organization is comprised
and transportation facilities.                                                                                                                                                                                       maintenance of tax
                                                                                                                                  of all landowners (also referred to as
                                                                                                                                  taxables) of a particular watershed or                                             ditches. This list
Approximately 37 percent of Delaware’s soils      In addition,                                         Middletown                                                                                                    has evolved into
                                                  crops impacted by flooding or poor                                               sub-watershed. The operations of a tax
are poorly drained, typically due to clay-type                                                                                                                                                                       Delaware’s Tax Ditch
                                                  drainage often under-utilize nutrients, thereby                                    ditch are overseen by ditch managers
soils with low permeability. Without proper                                                                                                                                                                          Best Management
                                                  creating potential excess nutrient issues in                                          and a secretary/treasurer. These                                                                                                                 È   Install structures to control
drainage, these soils become over-saturated,                                                                                                                                                                         Practices (BMPs).
                                                  downstream areas.                                                                        officers are landowners within                                                                                                                    water levels in the channels
or have standing water on them. This situation                                                                                                                                                                       Some of the more
                                                                                                                                              the watershed and are elected
often results in timely agricultural operations                                                                 Smyrna                                                                                               significant practices
                                                  Proper water management plays a vital role in                                                 at an annual meeting by the
being delayed or prohibited. Adverse effects                                                                                                                                                                         include:
                                                  optimizing farming operations. The existence                                                   taxables.
on crop production include: inability to
prepare soils for planting; delays beyond         of stable drainage systems plays a large role                                                                                                                      Î Perform one-sided
                                                  in determining the economic success of most                                                   Delaware has 228 individual tax                                         construction
optimum planting dates; inhibited plant                                                                                                                                                                                                           Save trees within the È
                                                  farming operations. In addition to farming                                                    ditch organizations. They range in                                   l Minimize clearing
growth; and restricted or limited harvests.                                                                                                                                                                                                          construction zone Í
                                                  concerns, many rural roads depend on proper                                                   size from the 56,000 acre Marshyhope                                    widths through
                                                  drainage outlets to control flooding and to                                                   Creek Tax Ditch in southern Delaware                                    forested areas
                                                  minimize upkeep.                                                                              to a two-acre system in Wilmington.                                  l Relocate channels
                                                                                                                                                 These organizations manage over 2,000                                  around sensitive and
                                                  For urban communities, controlling surface                                                       miles of channels and provide benefits to                            significant habitat or
                                                  water runoff is critical. Basements, yards,                                                       over 100,000 people and almost one-half                             wetland areas                                               È Install berm along channel with
                                                  septic systems, streets, recreational areas,                                                        of the state-maintained roads. Tax ditch                       l Minimize construction                                             inlet pipe to maintain historical
                                                  stormwater facilities, parking lots, schools and                                                     channels range in size from 6 to 80 feet                         of downstream outlets                                            water levels in adjacent wetlands
                                                  businesses all depend on effective drainage                                                            wide and 2 to 14 feet deep. The dimensions                  l Block off old channels
                                                                                                                                                           depend upon the acreage being drained and                    that drain only wetland areas                   The Department has constructed many
                                                                                                                                                               topography.                                                                                              projects incorporating these BMPs to test their
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     To ensure implementation of these BMPs,            effectiveness. These projects have resulted
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     the Department routinely provides wetland/         in the establishment of demonstration and

            Historic Channel Construction                                                                                                                  Lewes                                                     environmental training sessions for both
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     technical and administrative staff members.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        education sites that have effectively shown
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        that drainage and environmental quality do not
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        have to be mutually exclusive.
                                                                                                                                  Georgetown                Rehoboth
                     Historically, the planning environmental impacts.” Drainage of lands                                                                    Beach
                     and construction of water through tax ditches was one such activity.
                     management systems was
                     accomplished by only       Various environmental groups and regulatory
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Tax Ditch Maintenance
                     considering the            agencies began to question the potential                                                 Millsboro
                     administrative steps       impacts these projects were having on natural                                                                  Bethany            Areas Managed                                                                         channel for dip-out purposes. Unfortunately,
                     required to organize a tax resources. For example, interpretation of the                                                                   Beach              by Tax Ditch                                                                         mowing machines are not selective and cut
                     ditch. The traditional           Army Corps of Engineers and State                                                                                            Organizations                                                                        all vegetation including shrubs and grasses
                     program had a single              wetland regulations became a frequent,                                                                                                                                                                           that provide desirable food and habitat for
                     purpose that                      ongoing process used by groups in an                                                                                                                                                                                          wildlife. Recent attempts have
                     focused                            attempt to halt or minimize projects.                                                                                                                                                                                        focused on the development
                                                         Regulatory exemption requirements                                                                                                                                                                                           of viable alternative methods
                                                           for channel construction were
                                                            tightened and/or eliminated, and
                                                                                                                          Formation of a Tax Ditch                                                                                                                                   for controlling vegetation. One
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      successful method is the “weed
                                                           wetland/habitat mitigation was                                                                                                                              “Weed Wiper Bar” has been                                     wiper bar.” This machine applies
                                                           more frequently required.                                                                                                                                    successfully used to control                                 herbicides to targeted species by
                                                                                                      The Delaware General Assembly enacted the 1951         the affected landowners. At the conclusion of the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      woody vegetation in over 500
                                                                                                      Drainage Law to establish, finance and maintain        hearing, a referendum is held for the landowners            miles of channels since the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     using a wiping bar that leaves
                                                             In response to these environmental       drainage organizations (tax ditches). Formation        to approve or disapprove formation of the tax                               mid 1990s.                                   most desirable species untouched.
                             primarily on                    concerns and issues, changes in the      of a tax ditch can only be initiated by landowners     ditch. The Board of Ditch Commissioners files           Vegetative maintenance
                    drainage issues. Little       water management program were initiated in          who petition Superior Court to resolve drainage        the results of the hearing and referendum in            on tax ditches is performed to allow access    An experimental maintenance practice to
                    consideration was given       order to make projects more environmentally         or flooding concerns.                                  Superior Court. The Court then holds a final            to channels for the removal of accumulated     promote increased wildlife habitat involves the
                    to environmental issues       friendly. Additionally, Governor Castle’s                                                                  hearing for any interested person to object to          sediments, commonly referred to as “dip        establishment of tree clusters along the edge
                    such as wildlife habitat or   Executive Order No. 56 (1988) mandated State        This petition results in the Conservation District     the formation of the tax ditch.                         outs.” Dipping out a channel is done           of the ditch. This practice yields numerous
                    wetlands. As Delaware         agencies to achieve projects with a no-net-loss     requesting an investigation by the Division of Soil                                                            using a hydraulic excavator that removes       environmental benefits as it increases tree
                    addressed the more            of wetlands. It was recognized that natural         and Water Conservation to “…determine whether Following the outcome of the final hearing,                      approximately one to two feet of material from canopy, reduces forest fragmentation, provides
                    obvious environmental         resource impacts resulting from the                 the formation of the tax ditch is practicable and and if deemed appropriate, the Superior Court                the channel bottom. This allows the channel to shade thereby lowering water temperature, and
                    concerns related to           reconstruction of drainage systems can and          feasible, and is in the interest of the public judge issues a Court Order establishing the tax                 remain fully functional and provide the level  increases the dissolved oxygen in the water.
                    industrial and municipal      should be minimized.                                health, safety and welfare.” If so determined, the ditch organization. The Court Order establishes             of drainage intended by its original design.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Dip outs generally occur once every 15 to 20                   Traditional Tax Ditch Mowing
                    discharges, development                                                           Conservation District files the petition in Superior permanent rights-of-way for the tax ditch
                    and other areas, the                                                              Court and the Board of Ditch Commissioners (as organization for construction and maintenance                   years.
                    environmental focus                                                               directed by the resident judge) prepares a report operations. It also empowers the organization
                    eventually progressed                                                             on the proposed tax ditch.                             with taxation authority to collect, from all affected   Vegetative maintenance traditionally involves
                    beyond these areas to                                                                                                                    landowners, funds to perform this construction          the use of rotary mowing machines to control
                    other activities now                                                              This report contains information such as drainage and maintenance. The taxation amount for                     trees and large shrubs. Failure to perform
                    recognized as also having                                                         ditch locations, needed rights-of-way, associated individual properties is also established through            this maintenance will result in the growth
                    potentially “significant                                                          costs, and is the basis for a hearing that is held for the Court Order.                                        of large trees and prohibit access to the
                                         Wetland Restoration in Marginal Agricultural Fields                                                                                                                               Benefits of Wetland Restoration
Agricultural operations throughout the State of Restoring these areas creates wildlife habitat,            (humps and bumps), addition                                                                                                                                          l Increase and enhance aquatic and
Delaware are performed on a variety of fields        increases biodiversity and improves water             of organic matter, placement of                                                                                                                                        wildlife habitat
with varying shapes, sizes                                             quality. Restoration efforts        coarse woody debris, relocation
and soil types. These                                                        like these result in more     of live trees and shrubs, and      Relocating                                                                                                                        l Trap and uptake nutrients and
variables are all                                                                 productive and           the creation of irregular           live trees                                                                                                                         sediments to improve water quality
considered                                                                            efficient farming    shapes. Implementation of          and shrubs
                                                                                                                                              jumpstarts                                                                                                                        l Promote the establishment of native
in the                                                                                  operations         these restoration techniques
                                                                                                                                              restoration                                                                                                                         plant species and control invasive
management                                                                               because           accelerates the ecological
                                                                                                                                                projects                                                                                                                          species
of a farming                                                                             portions of       processes and results in
operation as                                                                            marginal and       projects which replicate natural                                                                                                                                     l Protect rare and endangered species
these factors                                                                          non-productive      functioning ecosystems.
will affect crop                                                                   fields are taken
productivity and                                                               out of production.
farming efficiency. Perhaps
                                 Organic matter creates substrate
the most important factor is                                         Traditional wetland
                                   for macroinvertebrate habitat
soil type. Poorly-drained                                            restoration was                                                                                                                            l Increase recreational opportunities - bird
soils are often more difficult to cultivate than     performed by the construction of                                                                                                                             watching and hunting
well-drained soils. This becomes a problem           open-water ponds that resulted in
when both types of soils exist within the same       projects with minimal plant and                                                                                                                            l Aesthetics and education
field. In addition to soil types, odd field          animal diversity. Current efforts
                                                                                                                                                                                                                l Ground-water recharge, water storage and
shapes, such as “points” and “corners,” result      focus on wetland restoration
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  flood control
in areas that are hard and inefficient to till.      techniques that promote a variety
These types of situations, when evaluated from of plant and animal species. This                                                                                                                                                                                              Restored wetlands provide excellent
an environmental perspective, lend themselves results in the creation of a diverse                                                                                                                                                                                              habitat for a variety of wildlife
as perfect opportunities for wetland restoration. and fully functioning ecosystem.                              Woody debris provides
In most instances these poorly-drained portions These restoration techniques include                         basking and loafing areas for
of fields were historically forested wetlands.       the construction of micro-topography                              wildlife

                                                                                                                                 results in varying
                                                                                                                                   water depths
                                                                                                                                  which promote
                                                                                                                                 diversity in plant
                                                                                                                                    and animal

                Stream Corridor Restoration                                                                                       Education & Outreach                                                                       Dr. Bruce Richards
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Executive Director
Activities such as agriculture,                              Traditional tax ditch restored to replicate    The importance of

road-building, residential and                               a natural floodplain with sinuous low-flow     stream and wetland
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           O      F NATURAL RE
commercial development,                                      channel                                        restoration is readily                                                                                                  TM
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       ENT                       SO
and drainage have resulted                                                                                  accepted throughout

                                                                                                                                                                                                                             DE P A

in the degradation of much                                                                                  the environmental
of Delaware’s streams and                                                                                   community. However, the                                                                                               D


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      EN                                R

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           VIR                     NT
riparian (the area within and adjacent to a stream)                                                         general public may not                                                                                                               O N M ENT AL CO

habitat. These activities have significantly altered                                                        recognize the need for                                                                                                John A. Hughes
the state’s aquatic habitats, water-dependent                                                               ecological restoration.                                                                                                         Secretary
species and surrounding upland environments.                                                                Therefore, the Department
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ecological restoration through the protection of

The Department has estimated that 90 percent                                                                has implemented an
of Delaware’s streams and rivers have been                                                                  educational outreach                                                                                streams, drainage ditches, wetlands and riparian
significantly modified.                                                                                     program targeting a broad                                                                           corridors is a very important mission for the
                                                       been highly successful in restoring wetland and                                                                                                          Center for the Inland Bays and the Department
                                                                                                            cross-section of citizens
                                                       upland habitat and providing natural stream                                                                                                              of Natural Resources and Environmental
To address these concerns, the Department has                                                               in “The First State.” This
                                                       channel stability.                                                                                                                                       Control. Projects are being implemented
initiated an effort to restore stream corridor                                                              initiative is being accomplished by many           numerous students and teachers participate
systems. The purpose of stream corridor                                                                     Divisions in the Department who have created       in the planting of native trees and shrubs       utilizing new and innovative wetland and
                                                     The objectives of stream corridor restoration are:                                                                                                         stream restoration techniques and concepts.
restoration projects is to restore highly disturbed                                                         educational displays that are featured at public   in newly constructed stream and wetland
                                                     l Restore degraded stream channels to a natural                                                                                                            Wetland restoration is taking place in marginal
and/or degraded streams and their surrounding                                                               functions throughout Delaware. Additionally,       restoration projects. A fully-functioning
                                                        stream morphology;                                                                                                                                      agricultural fields to create additional wildlife
riparian areas to natural, stable stream channels                                                                                                                               ecosystem creates the perfect
                                                     l Reestablish biological                                                                                                                                   habitat, improve water quality and increase
            with environmentally functional                                                                                                                                     outdoor classroom to teach
                                                        diversity;                                                                                                                                              the efficiency of farming operations. Stream
               ecosystems.                                                                                                                                                      the fundamental principles of
                                                     l Increase wildlife                                                                                                                                        restoration is being targeted toward existing tax
                                                                                                                                                                                ecology and the importance of
                                                        habitat;                                                                                                                                                ditches and degraded natural stream systems
                  To date, stream corridor                                                                                                                                      environmental stewardship.
                                                     l Stream bank                                                                                                                                              to provide long-term stability and improve
                    restoration efforts have been
                                                        stabilization; and                                                                                                                                      ecological value by reestablishing natural
                      implemented when private                                                                                                                                Planting events typically
                                                     l Protect and improve                                                                                                                                      flood plains and sinuous low-flow channels
                      landowners have requested                                                                                                                               take place in the spring and
                                                        water quality.                                                                                                                                          using geomorphological approaches.
                       restoration projects or                                                                                                                                fall. If interested, there may
                                                     Recent projects have
                             when Department                                                                                                                                  be an opportunity for you to
                                                     focused on restoring straight, steep-sided tax                                                                                                             For more information or copies of this brochure,
                                 personnel have                                                                                                                               participate in a project near
                                                     ditch channels. In these instances, the goal is                                                                                                            please contact DNREC at 302-739-4411 or the
                                   located potential                                                                                                                          you. For more information,
                                                     to reestablish a natural flood plain and sinuous                                                                                                           Center for the Inland Bays at 302-645-7325.
                                     sites on                                                                                                                                 call the Department at 302-
                                                     low-flow channel using geomorphic approaches.
                                                     Other efforts have focused on degraded natural
                                                                                                                                                                              739-4411 or the Center for the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Production of this document was funded by a U. S.              Promoting Drainage,
                                      lands. These                                                                                                                            Inland Bays at 302-645-7325.      Environmental Protection Agency grant to the Center
                                                     streams in which restoration has been performed
                                                                                                                                                                                                                for the Inland Bays. Photographs and text were provided      Agriculture and Ecological
                                                     to provide long-term stability and improve
                                    projects have
                                                     ecological value.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                by DNREC’s Ecological Restoration Managers Tom
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Barthelmeh and Steve Williams.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Restoration Practices
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    in Delaware

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