State of the Beach/State Reports/DE

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Delaware began using EPA water quality criteria in 2001 and officially adopted the criteria in 2002. The state's beach access information and facilities are good, despite the fact that significant portions of both the oceanfront and Delaware Bay shoreline are privately owned. Approximately half the oceanfront shoreline is owned by the State, and about 90% is publically accessible. A significant portion of the Delaware Bay shoreline is owned by conservation groups, the State, or Federal government. DNREC maintains a database of structures and has strict regulations which govern construction on ocean and bay beaches, under Delaware’s Beach Preservation Act. More information about this permitting program can be found online.

Delaware Ratings

Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access77
Water Quality89
Beach Erosion7-
Erosion Response-5
Beach Fill7-
Shoreline Structures6 3
Beach Ecology6-
Surfing Areas45


(+) On June 4, 2009, Mid-Atlantic Governors signed an interstate agreement committing to improve the health of the Atlantic Ocean. Governors from New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia are creating a structure for the States to work together on: development of offshore renewable energy; increased protection of the most unique and sensitive offshore habitats; improved energy security and independence in the region; climate change and sea level rise; and, increased federal support for water quality infrastructure improvements. The agreement will create a Governors Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean to continue advocacy for and leveraging of greater state influence on the management of offshore ocean areas and to direct federal and interstate actions and resources.

(+) In 2008 more than 450 people participated in Delaware’s annual beach grass planting event and planted about 95,000 stems of grass along three miles of coastline between Fenwick Island State Park and Lewes Beach.

(+) A newly updated and expanded edition of Striking a Balance: A Guide to Coastal Dynamics and Beach Management in Delaware, took top honors in the educational brochures category of the 2005 Communicator Awards.

(+) There is one public access site for about every 1.5 miles of shoreline.

(0) 99% of Delaware’s ocean beaches are experiencing coastal erosion.

(0) More than 57 million people are less than a day's drive from Delaware's 25 miles of sandy beaches.

(0) More than 6 million people visit the Delaware coast each year.

(0) From 1988 to 1994, eighteen fill projects placed an annual average of 329,000 cubic yards of sand on the beach. The average annual cost was $1.8 million.

(-) The City of Rehoboth Beach is considering constructing an ocean outfall pipe for discharge of treated sewage about one mile offshore from the city.

(-) Since 1990, about 84,000 new homes have been built statewide and about 100,000 more homes are planned, severely taxing this small state's ecosystems and infrastructure.

(-) Substantial federal budget cuts to NOAA have resulted in a cut of approximately $400,000 in Delaware's Coastal Management Program and reductions in the amount of dollars they are able to pass through to other organizations to do coastal management work.


  • Prevention of Shoreline Structure Expansion at Herring Point, DE The Delaware; Ocean City, Maryland; and Capitol Chapters worked together to prevent the expansion of an existing groin or construction of new structures to address erosion at Herring Point in Cape Henlopen State Park. The surf and other natural resources at this location draw thousands from throughout the region. The chapters' position on this issue is explained here.
  • Year Round Water Quality Testing in Delaware The Delaware Chapter is working in conjunction with the DNREC to expand their beach monitoring program beyond the normal tourist season to year-round testing. The chapter is assisting with this effort by collecting the samples. More info.
  • Surfing Only Beach At the request of the Delaware Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, Mayor Sam Cooper and the City Council of Rehoboth Beach unanimously approved designating the beach at the north end of the City Limits of Rehoboth as a "Surfing Only Beach".

For a list of Surfrider Foundation's latest coastal victories, go here.

State of the Beach Report: Delaware
Delaware Home Beach Description Beach Access Water Quality Beach Erosion Erosion Response Beach Fill Shoreline Structures Beach Ecology Surfing Areas Website
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