About WRA

Welcome to the University of Delaware Water Resources Agency in the Institute for Public Administration!

Kauffman_GeraldwelcomeBillions of gallons of water have flowed over the dam since the Water Resources Agency (WRA) Board came together for regional water planning and management in 1977.  That year, the Cities of Newark and Wilmington joined with New Castle County to form a policy board and fund the Water Resources Agency for New Castle County.  In 1990, the State of Delaware was added as the 4th voting member of the policy board.  In 1998 the Governor’s office, the three local governments, and University authorized the Water Resources Agency to relocate to the University of Delaware as part of the Institute for Public Administration (IPA).  Now on campus, the University of Delaware Water Resources Agency’s mission is to provide water science and policy assistance to governments in Delaware and Delaware Valley through the public service, education, and research role of the University.   After close to four decades of cooperation, the water resources accomplishments of the WRA Board of regional governments are significant and notable in the areas of policy, planning, and science.

State of Delawarestateseal2_0

The State of Delaware chairs the Water Supply Coordinating Council which has developed over 2 billion gallons of reserve water storage since the drought of 1999.   Tributary action teams are developing cleanup plans to restore streams to fishable and swimmable status in the Christina Basin, Appoquinimink, Inland Bays, Broadkill, and Murderkill watersheds, among others.   The Delaware Source Water Protection Law of 2001 has prompted counties and towns to adopt wellhead protection ordinances.  Watershed management programs are paying off as 80% of monitoring stations along 30 Delaware streams since 1990 have recorded improved or constant water quality for dissolved oxygen, sediment, bacteria, nitrogen, and phosphorus.

New Castle Countynccseal2

New Castle County administers an award winning Water Resource Protection Area (WRPA) ordinance to protect the quality and quantity of wellhead, recharge, reservoir watersheds, and limestone aquifers areas.   Over 20% of the County area is protected by this code.  The County recently modernized the Stormwater Drainage Code and is working with DELDOT and Newark in complying with the USEPA NPDES stormwater permit.  The 2012 Comprehensive Plan update recommends zoning practices to protect the Delaware Bay coastal wetlands and forests in southern New Castle County.

City of Newarknewark

In 2006, the City of Newark recently completed the new 317 million gallon reservoir, the first water supply impoundment in Delaware since the Great Depression.  The City also successfully funded new water treatment plants along the White Clay Creek and at the south wellfield.  In the early 1990s, the City was one of the first towns to employ open space zoning and now almost all of the floodplain along the White Clay Creek and Upper Christina River are now part of the park system.  Newark is one of the only towns that employs a utility approach and publicly maintains storm water facilities.  Along with the county, the city of Newark is a key signatory to the White Clay Creek Wild and Scenic River Watershed Management Plan.

City of Wilmingtonwilmlogo

The City of Wilmington has followed a regional approach ever since it built the Delaware River wastewater treatment plant, a facility that treats all of northern Delaware’s wastewater.  The City expanded Hoopes Reservoir dam to create over 150 mg of additional storage. Wilmington fixed leaking water mains and saved 3 mgd of drinking water that used to trickle into the ground.  The City has invested over $10 million and installed million gallon underground tanks to reduce combined sewer overflows.  Recently, Wilmington became the first government in Delaware to adopt a stormwater utility to fund sewer improvements.

These are just a few of the many contributions of the WRA cooperating governments over the last three and a half decades.


Gerald J. Kauffman