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Water Inundation in Shellpot Creek Watershed, Delaware (2002-2017)


Picture of Shellpot Creek

                                       Upper Shellpot Creek at Tarleton Park


Discussion of Shellpot Creek Watershed

Shellpot Creek is located between Stoney Creek and Brandywine Creek along the Delaware River.  It is the largest watershed east of Brandywine Creek in the Piedmont of Delaware.  Shellpot Creek has a little more natural shoreline than Stoney or Naamans Creek and contains parts of Bellevue State Park and several New Castle County Parks.  However, there are still areas that have been industrially impacted as well as a lot of residential area.  More information on the watershed can be found at this link.

Shellpot Creek has a small exposure to tidal water, but more than the previously discussed watersheds (Naamans Creek and Stoney Creek).  Like the others, it is a riverine watershed.  This means that precipitation events have an outsize influence on the inundation numbers.  For instance, you can have a heavy rainfall event in the upper Delaware watershed, which will then flow into the main stem of the Delaware River causing it to rise.  There is not enough area for the water to spread out.  In these watersheds (riverine) it is best to look at the trends rather than the actual numbers.

Shellpot Creek Tidal Water (2002-2017)


Table 1.  Shellpot Creek Watershed Tidal Water (2002-2017) in acres
Year ETRW ECOW Total Tidal Water
2002 10.32 2.11 12.43
2007 11.06 2.82 13.88
2012 11.08 2.77 13.85
2017 10.97 4.13 15.1

ETRW = Estuarine Tidal Riverine Water (Salinity < 0.5 ppt)

ECOW = Estuarine Coastal Oligohaline Water (Salinity 0.5-5 ppt)

Table 1 shows that the amount of tidal water in the watershed has risen overall since 2002 with a slight regression in the 2007-2012 period.   The largest increase occurred in the 2002-2007 period.

Table 2.  Average Rate of Shellpot Creek Watershed Tidal Water Inundation 

(2002-2017) in acres/year

 Period  Average rate (acres/year)
2002-2007 0.29
2007-2012 -0.006
2012-2017 0.25

Table 2 shows that the water inundation rate regressed in the 2007-2012 period, but sped up in the 2012-2017 period, but not quite above the 2002-2007 period.  As noted in the last post, the 2007-2012 slowdown has been seen in other watersheds in Delaware.

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