Friends of Bohemia Board Members

Member Spotlight: Friends of the Bohemia

The thing we love the most about our campaign are the people we meet and the amazing organizations we get to work with regularly. One of those organizations is Friends of the Bohemia. Chuck Foster, one of the most passionate watershed advocates we’ve ever met, sat down with us recently to give us the scoop on everything we want to know about Friends of the Bohemia. Read on for the interview!

(Psssst…Chuck mentions some really great ways you can volunteer and get involved with one of the coolest groups we know, so pay attention. 🙂 )

When we mention “Bohemia” to our friends and followers, they often think of adventurers, artists, and wanderers. We know you’re adventurous, but what is the Friends of the Bohemia all about?

Friends of the Bohemia is an all-volunteer nonprofit watershed improvement association incorporated in 2015.  We are all about bringing together everyone who lives, works or plays in our watershed to work in a spirit of fun and cooperation to help each other keep our beautiful river beautiful.  The name Bohemia was given to our river by Augustine Herman, who came from that part of Eastern Europe.  Augustine was commissioned by Lord Baltimore, Cecil Calvert, to make a map of the Chesapeake Bay.  As part of the compensation for the map he produced in 1670, Herman was given his choice of any land he wanted.  After seeing and charting the entire Chesapeake Bay, he selected the most wonderful location he had encountered and named it “Bohemia Manor” after his homeland. So clearly, our river is the most beautiful spot on the entire Bay!

We hear the Bohemia River begins in a Walmart parking lot in Middletown. Is this true? And why should Delawareans care about what pollution lands in that parking lot?

It is true!  I love to tell people that fun fact because the word “headwaters” always seems to conjure up an image of a sparkling clear mountain stream in most people’s minds.  Kind of like the TV commercials we see for bottled water. The reality is that lots of waterways begin in a densely populated urban setting. Pollution, such as petroleum products, running off of the hard surface of a parking lot goes right into a waterway without having a chance to slow down and soak through layers of soil that filter it before it reaches the water table, or before it can get absorbed and used as fuel by native plants.  Clean water is important to everyone.  Even if you can’t see the larger part of the river from where you are, what folks do anywhere in the watershed makes a difference to our community and our quality of life.

What do you think are the top three ways to enjoy the Bohemia watershed? 

Sunset Over Bohemia RiverKayaking is one of my favorites, but all manners of water-related recreation is popular…sailing, motor boating, skiing, tubing, fishing, and chasing the most delicious blue crabs ever.  Every Wednesday evening, the river is the site of a sailing regatta that provides dinner-time entertainment from the shore line.  Personally, just staring at the water brings me joy.  There is nothing like watching a beautiful sunset over the Bohemia.  It is great fun to observe the birds…osprey, eagle, Canada geese, ducks, great blue heron, crow, purple martins, finches, humming birds and many more varieties, as they go about their lives, raise their young, and compete with each other for fish, other food and territory.  Marvelous!  We also have a wide variety of plant life in our watershed, including the beautiful but rare American Lotus.  We purposely located one of our water quality sampling sites directly across from the cove where the American Lotus grow so we can observe and enjoy them.

You mentioned to us that you spent nearly every childhood weekend on the Bohemia. What’s your best memory growing up here on the Bohemia River Watershed? 

My favorite memories are of a river teaming with life and water so crystal clear that you could skin dive with a mask and snorkel and see the fish. It was easy to see the river bottom, even if the water was six feet deep. Amazing!  There was so much aquatic grass that we had to pull up a narrow swath to get our little boat out to the deep water.  I’ll always treasure family gatherings to feast on crabs and float around on old truck tire inner tubes on a lazy summer day. Most of all, I remember the sense of freedom and connection with the natural world that I experienced here.  Of course, my parents were WAY less anxious about my activities and whereabouts than I and my generation of parents seem to be!  That was a good thing.  I survived.

Where can Delawareans access the Bohemia River? What is the most convenient launch point for Middletown-area residents? 

Kayakers on the Bohemia RiverRight now, public access is pretty limited.  There is a launch point for paddle craft at the northwest corner of the Bohemia River Bridge on Maryland Route 213 (Augustine Herman Highway!).  There are also several commercial boat ramps available at the marinas that dot the river.  BUT…stay tuned for the opening of Bohemia River State Park!
The Maryland Park Service has recently acquired a 460 acre parcel on the northeast corner of the Bohemia River Bridge and is in the planning phase of developing a new park!  This will be a great place for folks from the Middletown area to come picnic, launch paddle craft, walk the trails, see the wildlife, participate in educational programs, and more.

Can you give us a few examples of the ways Friends of the Bohemia are improving our water quality here in DE? 

Friends of the Bohemia has mailed Water Quality Report Cards to over 5,000 Delaware postal customers for each of the last two years to increase public awareness of water quality issues and provide folks with concrete suggestions for ways they can help. We have worked with the Delaware Clean Water Alliance to support legislation and funding that encourages clean water in the state.  We have also been closely monitoring the Route 301 bypass project that runs directly through our watershed.  The Delaware Department of Transportation has a highly engineered system of stormwater management and has been working hard to minimize the impact that exposed dirt has on the waterways.  Unfortunately, it is a difficult proposition for a project of this scale, but silt fences and other measures are regularly reviewed for compliance with environmental requirements.  Friends of the Bohemia will once again be participating in the Ocean Conservancy’s annual International Coastal Clean Up initiative on September 15, 2018.  We are scouting out a site in Delaware and are approaching land owners for permission to pick up the trash that would otherwise find its way into the water.  We are also actively seeking a couple of water quality sampling sites in the Delaware portion of the watershed.  This would be a great enhancement to our program and we’d love to get some more Delawareans to join our team of water quality samplers.  No experience is necessary and no background in a scientific discipline is required.  It is a lot of fun and we have a great team of folks in our Science Subgroup.

You recently held a report card unveiling. Can you tell us about the report card and the event?

On June 14thwe pulled the wraps off our 2018 Water Quality Report Card.  Broken Spoke Winery in Earleville, MD provided us with a beautiful setting, purveying their wonderful wines, serving delicious food and creating a most comfortable, inviting atmosphere.  That’s a good thing because the River’s report card grade slipped from a B to a C+ this year.  Just like those Report Card Days of our youth, we were a little nervous about how that would play out with our audience…sort of the same way we were nervous about our parents’ reaction.  Gulp.  About 60 people were on hand to learn about Friends of the Bohemia’s findings, and our head scientist, Rebecca Wright, did a great job of explaining what we did, what we found, what it means, and what people can do to have a positive impact.  As it turns out, while most of the parameters we test were either stable, improving, or just slightly worse than last year, our overall grade was heavily impacted by the significant decline in the amount of Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) in the watershed.  The Bohemia was not alone in this regard.  Despite the overall improvement in SAV coverage enjoyed by the Bay as a whole, our section of the Bay Watershed suffered a decrease in acres containing aquatic grass.  The reasons are still under study, but spikes in salinity may have been a factor.  High salinity levels damage the root systems of the fresh water grass species in our location.  The good news is that the Bohemia River still enjoys a very wide variety of aquatic grass species.  Friends of the Bohemia will be hosting an SAV workshop very soon where we’ll wade into the river and verify the findings that the Virginia Institute of Marine Science has developed from their sophisticated aerial photography.  The take away message from the presentation was that we all need to keep doing whatever we can each do in our own sphere of influence to reduce the impact of human beings on the natural environment.  The more we can help each other with that, in a spirit of cooperation rather than confrontation, the better.

Rebecca’s talk was followed up with a wonderful presentation by the Maryland Park Service.  Rangers Lesley Leader and Rachel Temby were on hand to describe the development of the new Bohemia River State Park and answer questions from the audience.  The group was keenly interested in this topic and seemed to come away excited and energized about this future asset.  What a lovely setting the park will provide for recreation and education!  The Park Service is doing a great job of seeking input and carefully balancing all of the various factors that come into play.

All in all, it was a very successful event and we made a few new “Friends!”

Your community of members are so welcoming. What do you think is one of the most interesting or fun details of your membership and the community you created?

We really enjoy each other’s company and there is a great deal of humor in the group vibe. People often notice the “I’m a Bohemian” slogan on the back of our T-shirts and that starts a conversation.  We embrace diversity in the group and that brings a wonderful exchange of ideas. One thing we all have in common, though, is an absolute love for our river and our community.

Why should a Delaware resident be interested in joining your organization? 

Volunteer with Friends of Bohemia Watershed AssociationDelawareans want clean water too!  What the folks in Middletown do in their back yards makes a difference to the watershed, whether or not they can see the main body of the Bohemia from where they stand. We are all part of the same community and joining Friends of the Bohemia is a great way to meet new people with common interests.  Volunteering your time, for example, at one of our clean-up events or on one of our water quality sampling teams, is very rewarding.  You’ll be doing your part to make a positive difference in the world around you.  Joining us will also help keep Delawareans aware of happenings in their state. Our association with water-friendly organizations in Delaware can help make our collective voices heard on important issues.

If people are interested in learning more about Friends of the Bohemia, how can they best get in touch with you? 

American Lotus in Bohemia RiverOur website is a great place to start:  www.friendsofthebohemia.org.  On that site you’ll find a wealth of information about what we do and how you can get involved.  There are links to other sites that delve deeper into topics that tweak your interest, and there is a Calendar of Events that we keep updated with the latest information on our happenings. We love to have visitors at our monthly board meetings and folks can email us at friendsofthebohemia@gmail.com, or call 443-566-3513 if they have any questions.

Rally Attendees in Front of Leg Hall

Delaware’s Waters Get Cleaner in 2019 Thanks to You!

Thanks to the advocacy and support of our Water Warriors (that’s you!) we secured even more funding than originally proposed for clean water in the final version of Delaware’s budget!

In our last blog, we explained Delaware’s complicated budget process and how our governor and state legislature designate funding for capital improvements including road repairs, building maintenance and, of most importance to our campaign, projects that would improve our water quality. Water quality improvement projects that fall under capital improvements include upgrades to sewer systems; “green” solutions like improved wetlands; and the preservation of open space and farmland. Long story short: The Governor proposed a budget for Fiscal Year 2019 (FY2019) that included $6 million for clean water investments, $10 million for open space preservation and $10 million for farmland preservation.

In addition to the $10 million for open space preservation and $10 million for farmland preservation, Delaware’s FY2019 budget includes $10 million (almost double the proposed number) for investments in clean water! Not only is this unheard of in recent years as state budgets across the nation shrink smaller; but it’s the most conservation funding Delaware has received in over a decade!

FY2019 in Delaware began July 1, 2018 and will continue through June 30, 2019; so, these investments affect us NOW!

 

Thank You Clean Water Advocates!

How did this happen? Well, it happened because of you, our defenders of clean water! Whether you were one of the 200 people that rallied in front of Legislative Hall earlier this month;80 people that advocated for more funding in front of the House Natural Resources Committee this year; one of the dozens of individuals that advocated for clean water funding in the Bond Bill Committee process;or a representative of the almost 30 organizations that signed onto joint letters to Governor Carney and/or the Bond Bill committee supporting clean water funding – decision makers heard us loud and clear  – clean water is essential to every part of our life!

The future of Delaware’s water is better because of your advocacy, energy and dedication. Thank you for your calls, emails, letters to the editor, in-person conversations, trips to Dover, social media outreach and more!

Where Will This Money Go?

It could go to projects such as:

These updates are crucial and need immediate attention. Every person deserves clean drinking water and reassurance that their sewage is being properly treated before landing in our waterways; and the funding for these projects will help us reach our goal.

 

But Open Space and Farmland Preservation? How Does That Affect Water Quality?

You might be wondering, “how does funding towards farmland preservation and open space result in cleaner water?” In the case of farmland preservation, well-managed agricultural lands provide food and cover for wildlife, protect nearby wetlands and watersheds, and absorb floodwaters. In Delaware, it’s also important to note that farmland preservation money also preserves all the natural areas including forestlands on farms.Additionally, farmland preservation offers an important alternative to the significant increase in the pressure sprawling suburban development puts on our water infrastructure and natural resources, especially in Sussex County.

In the case of open space preservation, pristine lands like forests and parks protect our wildlife, absorb flood waters, and filter stormwater runoff before it lands in our waterways. In fact, just one tree can capture and filter 36,500 gallons of water per year! Without this much-needed open space, we’d need an even bigger, more complicated, and more expensive water quality solution to our problems.

What is Next?

This infusion of funding for Delaware’s waterways is exciting, but it isn’t the long-term solution we need to ensure our state’s drinking water and natural resources remain safe and healthy for generations to come. We must continue to urge the Governor, his cabinet and Delaware’s legislators that we need a long-term and sustainable solution  to the over $100 million annual deficit we have in clean water funding. As this legislative session comes to a close and many of Delaware’s legislators gear up for election season, it is imperative we ensure our decision makers and candidates running for office recognize clean water as a cornerstone issue that garners votes. As our legislators return from Dover while on break, it is imperative we call, write and email them to ensure they know clean water funding will remain a priority issue for many Delawarean’s in the next legislative session.

The funding we’ve received for FY2019 is a step in the right direction and we’re building momentum. We look forward to continuing this great work with you, our Water Warriors, to secure the dedicated and sustainable funding we need to address Delaware’s water quality problems.

Want more updates like these? Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to get the latest on the campaign and all things related to clean water in Delaware!

 Have questions or want to get involved? Contact us here and we’ll be in touch!

The Complicated Process of Delaware’s Budget and Why It’s So Important to Our Water Quality

Figuring out your household budget can be a trying process (at least, I think it is)! Figuring out a budget for the entire state – well that’s just complicated and lengthy. You might be wondering who comes up with our state’s budget each year, how you can get involved in the process, and why it means so much to Delaware’s water quality. Read on to get these answers and more!

How Does Our Legislature Decide How We Spend Money on Clean Water Capital Improvements?

In Delaware, when the governor gives his budget address in January, he kicks off a 5 month process that includes reviews by two legislative committees: The Joint Finance Committee (which reviews operating funds) and the Joint Capital Improvement Committee, commonly called the “Bond Bill Committee,” (which reviews funds for capital improvements).

This year, Governor Carney presented a budget that includes $10 million for open space preservation; $10 million for farmland preservation; and $6 million for clean water investments. This funding is critical to our water quality. But, that doesn’t mean it will make the “final cut!”

The Bond Bill Committee, made up of 6 State Senators and 6 State Representatives, appropriates funds for major and minor state-funded capital improvements. Throughout mid-May, the committee holds public hearings with each state department and state agency to review its financial needs. They weigh these needs and ultimately work towards creating a fiscally-sound budget that addresses our state’s biggest capital improvement issues. During this process, the committee will study the proposed open space preservation funding, farmland preservation funding and clean water funding. It will decide if the proposed appropriations should remain funded as the Governor suggests, be re-appropriated to another more pressing issue, or diminished to plug a hole elsewhere.  Then, the committee ultimately presents a final budget to the full legislature for a vote at the end of June.

It is imperative the Bond Bill Committee hears from you and knows this funding is essential to our environment, economy and health! Delaware’s water quality is one of the biggest issues facing our state; but also an issue where capital improvements can make a HUGE difference to so many facets of our everyday lives.

How can you help?

As a Water Warrior, we are asking you to participate and offer comment during this Bond Bill process.

There are a number of ways you can do this!

  1. Attend the Bond Bill Committee’s May 17, 9:30am public hearing in Dover: This is the scheduled hearing for all capital improvements related to Delaware’s natural resources, including open space preservation, farmland preservation and clean water funding. We encourage you not only to attend, but to provide brief (limited to 2 minutes) testimony on why this funding is important. For talking points, click here. For a full schedule of the Bond Bill’s scheduled hearings, click here.

 

  1. Write a letter to the editor to your local newspaper in support of this funding. Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to draft and submit a letter!

 

  1. Write a letter or email to the members of the Bond Bill Committee asking them to support open space, farmland preservation and clean water funding. We’ve provided talking points and the email addresses for each committee member here!

 

  1. Show your support on social media! Use this link to find sample social media posts and images for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

  1. Attend our Clean Water Rally on June 5! From 10:30am-12:30pm we’ll be outside Legislative Hall with hundreds of Water Warriors showing support for clean water funding. Then, we’ll head inside Legislative Hall in the afternoon to meet with decision makers and encourage them to support full funding for open space preservation, farmland preservation and clean water. The rally is more important than ever this year as the Bond Bill Committee must wait until June 20, when the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council (DFAC) provides final revenue projections, to draft its final budget package! Registration is open now!

 

With the introduction of the Clean Water for Delaware Act (HB270), we’ve opened up the conversation for a need of long-term, sustainable funding for clean water projects. But, with the bill being tabled while legislators study potential funding mechanisms to create a clean water fund, $10 million for open space preservation, $10 million for farmland preservation and $6 million for clean water funding is critical to improving the Delawareans’ health, economy, and environment. Join us in our fight!

Want more updates like these? Be sure to sign up for our newsletterto get the latest on the campaign and all things related to clean water in Delaware!

Brenna Goggin is the Director of Advocacy for Delaware Nature Society.

Man typing on laptop

Writing a Letter to the Editor in Support of Clean Water Funding in the Bond Bill

One way to show support for clean water funding and the clean water investments Governor Carney proposed in his FY2019 budget is to let the public know how you feel! We encourage our Water Warriors to submit letters to the editor to local newspapers. These letters will help educate fellow residents and bring attention to the importance of clean water.

If you have any questions about the below basics on writing a letter to the editor, contact us, and we can help!

Here’s a few basic rules for crafting a letter to the editor:

  1. Most newspapers have maximum word counts for letter submissions. Keep your letter around 200-250 words.
  2. Be concise and focused; and be sure to stay on message.
  3. Double check spelling and grammar.
  4. Keep your message timely. If a local newspaper recently published a story about flooding in your town, that would be a great time to submit a letter to the editor as a response to the story and discuss why clean water funding is important to flood reduction.
  5. Always include a name, phone number and email address at the end of your letter. Don’t worry, it won’t get published! Newspapers will likely follow up with an email or phone call to verify identity and confirm submission of the letter.

And some basic talking points:

  1. Share your personal story. Do you support funding for clean water because your house floods? Or you love to fish? Talk about what connects you with water!
  2. Clearly state support for the $6 million for clean water; $10 million for open space; and $10 million for farmland preservation that Governor Carney proposed in his FY2019 budget – and state your hope that the legislature includes these appropriations in their final Bond Bill.
  3. Refer to (and feel free to include any of) our talking points on the FY2019 budget proposal for more detail on the Bond Bill process and why the proposed clean water funding is so important to Delaware.

How to Submit a Letter to the Editor

These days, most letters are submitted electronically via email. The letter should be submitted within the body of the email (as opposed to an attachment) unless otherwise noted by the news outlet. If your letter is not published within a few weeks of submission, it’s ok to call the new outlet’s newsroom and inquire about the submission to ensure receipt of the letter.

Where to Submit the Letter to the Editor

When sending a letter, please use the corresponding email address listed for each publication you’d like to submit your letter to.

New Castle County
Delaware Online/ The News Journal: letters@delawareonline.com
Newark Post: letters@newarkpostonline.com

Kent County
Delaware State News: newsroom@newszap.com
Milford Chronicle and Harrington Journal: mc@newszap.com

Sussex County
The Cape Gazette: newsroom@capegazette.com
The Coastal Point: darin.mccann@coastalpoint.com
Delmarva Now/ The Daily Times/Delaware Coast Press/ The Delaware Wave: opinions@delmarvanow.com
Milford Chronicle: mc@newszap.com
Sussex County Post: Complete this form – https://sussexcountypost.com/letter-to-the-editor/

 

Writing a Letter to the Editor

 

One way to show support for clean water funding and legislation like HB270 is to let the public know how you feel! We encourage our Water Warriors to submit letters to the editor to local newspapers. These letters will help educate fellow residents and bring attention to the importance of clean water.

If you have any questions about the below basics on writing a letter to the editor, contact us, and we can help!

Here’s a few basic rules for crafting a letter to the editor:

  1. Most newspapers have maximum word counts for letter submissions. Keep your letter around 200-250 words.
  2. Be concise and focused; and be sure to stay on message. It’s ok if it takes a few drafts to really drill down your message.
  3. Double and triple check spelling and grammar in the letter.
  4. Be sure to include your personal reason for caring about clean water. Maybe it’s flooding, concerns over drinking water, or wanting to fish in your nearby waterway.
  5. Keep your message timely. If a local newspaper recently published a story about flooding in your town, that would be a great time to submit a letter to the editor as a response to the story and discuss why clean water funding is important to flood reduction. In the media world, anything longer than a few days is “old news.”
  6. Always include a name, phone number and email address at the end of your letter. Newspapers will follow up with an email or phone call to verify identity and confirm submission of the letter.

And some basic talking points:

  1. Share your personal story. Do you support funding for clean water because your house floods? Or you love to fish? Talk about what connects you with water!
  2. Clearly state support for additional, dedicated, clean water funding in Delaware. Feel free to specifically notate support for HB270.
  3. Mention that clean water is essential and critical to the environment, public health and economy here in Delaware.

How to Submit a Letter to the Editor

These days, most letters are submitted electronically via email. The letter should be submitted within the body of the email (as opposed to an attachment) unless otherwise noted by the news outlet. If your letter is not published within a few weeks of submission, it’s ok to call the new outlet’s newsroom and inquire about the submission to ensure receipt of the letter.

Where to Submit the Letter to the Editor

When sending a letter, please use the corresponding email address listed for each publication you’d like to submit your letter to.

New Castle County
Delaware Online/ The News Journal: letters@delawareonline.com

Kent County
Delaware State News: newsroom@newszap.com

Sussex County
The Cape Gazette: newsroom@capegazette.com
The Coastal Point: darin.mccann@coastalpoint.com
Delmarva Now/ The Daily Times/Delaware Coast Press/ The Delaware Wave: opinions@delmarvanow.com
Milford Chronicle: mc@newszap.com

Member Spotlight: The Clean Water Rally’s Ocean Sponsor, Speakman

On June 6 2017, hundreds of clean water advocates rallied in Dover to celebratethe release of the Clan Water and Flood Abatement Task Force report and urge decision makers to support additional dedicated funding for water quality and flood abatement projects in Delaware. Our rally was a success thanks to ourattendees, exhibitors and sponsors. Here, we’re learning a bit more about the rally’s presenting “Ocean Sponsor,” Speakman!

In 1869, brothers Allen and Joseph Speakman opened a modest plumbing workshop in downtown Wilmington, Delaware. With a pioneering spirit and an unwavering dedication to craft, the brothers would design the world’s first adjustable shower head, as well as a full assortment of hospitality, commercial, emergency, and home plumbing products.

A lot has changed since then, but Speakman’s passion for quality and performance has remained the same. Family-owned and operated for nearly 150 years, Speakman’s team has remained small by design to focus on what they do best. From solid brass shower heads to reliable emergency equipment, each fixture has been meticulously engineered to deliver the greatest experience imaginable.

And that experience extends well into their water-saving fixtures. Over the past few years, Speakman engineers began developing revolutionary low flow shower heads that would save water without sacrificing an ounce of performance.

The Speakman Reaction Shower Head, which features a patented turbine-powered engine, infuses energy and velocity into each spray. The result is a powerful, pulsating sensation that uses at least 20% less water and outperforms competitor models in both force and thermal retention.

Additionally, Speakman introduced their new Echo Low Flow Shower Head, which features 3 unique spray settings to deliver a versatile, satisfying shower experience while saving water at the same time.

To further raise awareness for water conservation not only nationally but regionally as well, Speakman began partnering with local organizations up and down Delaware. For the 2nd year in a row, Speakman will be the lead sponsor of the Dogfish Dash, an 8k race thrown by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery to benefit local conservation efforts. Each year, Speakman also donates over 400 low flow shower heads to the Firefly Music Festival to deliver sustainable, powerful showers to concert goers. And in 2017, Speakman was thrilled to join the Clean Water Alliance, a coalition to improve the quality of Delaware’s water.

“Water is everything to us,” says Robert Knoll, President and CEO of Speakman. “It influences every decision we make as a company. And we believe it’s so important to not only use water responsibly, but also ensure we preserve and protect it as well.”

Today, Speakman showers and faucets are enjoyed daily in households and preferred by guests in luxury hotel and resorts such as Wynn and Marriott. Speakman emergency showers and eyewashes, as well as commercial faucets and valves are specified in facilities ranging from hospitality and healthcare to manufacturing and education. In addition, Speakman can be found on Amazon, Ferguson, Grainger, HD Supply, Home Depot and Lowes. To learn more about Speakman, visit www.speakman.com.