Delaware Master Gardeners take part in Water Warrior workshop
of Delaware Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardeners spent two days in
February learning about the importance of clean water to the state’s
environment and economy.
Participants explored simple, low-cost tips for protecting and
improving local water quality in their backyards and community and
engaging on topics such as green infrastructure as part of a Water
Warrior citizen advocacy workshop.
The workshop featured presenters from UD, the Delaware Nature Society
(DNS), the Delaware Water Resources Center (DWRC) and the Brandywine
Red Clay Alliance, and was affiliated with the Clean Water: Delaware’s
Clear Choice campaign, a statewide education and outreach effort led by
DNS and focused on clean water.
Many of the presenters were also part of the Clean Water Alliance, a
group of diverse stakeholders that supports the Clean Water Campaign and
the Water Warrior workshops.
Carrie Murphy, extension agent and the lawn and garden program
leader, said that a representative from DNS approached her about holding
the training for Master Gardeners, saying it was a natural fit as the
gardeners already get a baseline of training on how to help homeowners
with water problems.
“There are bigger efforts in neighborhoods to manage the water but
then on your own property, and in your landscape, there are slight
modifications you can make, for example reducing lawn, planting more
native plants, considering a rain garden if appropriate, to more
effectively manage water. This has been our focus but we’ve never had
extensive training to connect these suggestions to the bigger picture,
so this was a great opportunity to do this,” said Murphy.
The first day of the workshop focused on sustainable landscaping,
specifically how gardens relate to water management, and highlighted
some of the challenges in New Castle County with regard to water
management and how Master Gardeners can help people troubleshoot those
Sue Barton, associate professor and extension specialist in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources,
presented on sustainable landscaping practices, such as bioswales, a
landscaping element designed to concentrate or remove pollution from
surface water runoff, and native plants that are appropriate for rain
A DNS representative gave an overview of the Clean Water Alliance and
a presentation on “Water Warrior 101: Citizen’s Guide to Clean Water.”
Individual contributions to clean water
There are a number of ways that individuals can help contribute to
clean water through individual practices, which is the focus of Water
Warrior training. Gardeners, in particular, have a unique relationship
with water and can have an immediate impact based on the individual
practices that they utilize.
The second day included presentations on the value of watersheds and
water in Delaware from Martha Narvaez, a policy scientist at the DWRC,
located in UD’s Institute for Public Administration, and an overview of
water restoration in the Brandywine-Red Clay Valley from Ellen Kohler of
the Brandywine Red Clay Alliance.
The DWRC is on the Clean Water Alliance steering committee and
Narvaez said they have been working with DNS on their campaign, trying
to attract new alliance members and sharing information about the
importance of clean water.
They have also been educating the public on their role in water quality, their impacts on water and the need for clean water.
“We conducted an economic analysis on Delaware’s watersheds in 2012
and, using three different methods, we found watersheds contribute
anywhere from $2-6.7 billion annually to the state’s economy. We felt
that quantifying [this number] was important so that we could give
people a better understanding of why protecting water is important,”
One of the biggest challenges in protecting water in Delaware and
throughout the country is that water crosses state lines, so while
Delawareans can address the pollution once it reaches the state, it is
increasingly difficult to address the pollution at out-of-state sources.
“How do you address pollution in other states when you really have no
regulatory authority to do that? That’s one of the challenges with
water. People have different uses downstream and you may not have
control of the sources upstream so you need to work to have innovative
ways to incentivize people upstream to clean up the water so the people
downstream are getting clean water,” said Narvaez.
As far as working with the Master Gardeners, Narvaez said she was
happy to participate in the event and share the research DWRC has
conducted on the importance of water resources.
“I think the Master Gardeners are a perfect group to carry that
through because they are the people on the ground talking to home owners
and really connecting with the public and I think they can connect in a
way that a lot of us can’t and so I was really happy to be able to
participate,” said Narvaez.
Those interested in becoming Master Gardeners or learning about Master Gardener services can call 302-831-COOP or visit the Cooperative Extension website.
Those interested in learning more about the Clean Water Alliance
or hosting a Water Warrior training, can contact Brenna Goggin,
director of advocacy at DNS, at 302-239-2334 ext. 132 or e-mail email@example.com.
Originally published in UDaily on March 13, 2017. Article written by Adam Thomas. Photo by Wenbo Fan.