Creation of the Delaware WARC (to become DNREC)

Event Date

In the early 1950s, interest in water resources was considerable, and many organizations and individuals thought that legislation concerning the wise utilization and conservation of water should be considered. This interest led Governor J. Caleb Boggs to appoint the Delaware Water Resources Study Committee, which had a large membership representing municipalities, industry, farm organizations, and conservation groups. Dr. G. M. Worrilow, then Dean of the School of Agriculture of the University of Delaware, was its Chairman, and the Committee elected the State Geologist to be its Secretary. At about the same time, the Chamber of Commerce in Wilmington was instrumental in establishing the New Castle County Water Resources Committee, of which the State Geologist was also a member. The two Committees worked closely together in order to determine whether or not legislation was needed for the orderly development of Delaware's water resources, and, if so, to recommend a water policy for the State and ways and means for implementing such a policy.

The Governor's Committee's first task was to pull together widely scattered data on water resources, the Survey staff being heavily involved in this matter. A study was also made of various doctrines and water-resource laws enacted in the past in other states, and, after many meetings of the committees and various subcommittees, a draft of a proposed act was presented to the Governor. It was introduced in the General Assembly as Senate Bill 98 in 1957. It failed to pass, but the State did have regulatory powers with respect to water quality since the Water Pollution Commission was established in 1951. Moreover, the considerable amount of work done by the Water Resources Committee was not entirely without effect; new legislation creating the Water and Air Resources Commission (WARC) in 1966 built on the foundation laid between 1954 and 1957. The State Geologist became an ex-officio member of the new Commission, which had wide regulatory powers with regard to air and water pollution, water allocation, and the development and exploration of subaqueous lands. The State Geologist was, therefore, in a position to give technical advice to WARC but, being a non-voting member, was not directly involved in regulatory activities. The Commission could, however, with his consent, ask the State Geologist to act in its behalf in the consideration of applications for mineral exploration and subaqueous land development. This created the potential for blurring the distinct separation of research activities by the Survey and regulatory activities of WARC.

The DGS staff worked closely with WARC in the late nineteen sixties. It aided that Commission in drafting water well regulations, a water resources plan, a water inventory, and four studies of ground-water resources which were published by the University's Water Resources Center (New Castle and Kent counties and eastern and western Sussex County, 1968-1971).

As part of the institution of the cabinet from the state government in 1969 - 1970, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control was created. The chief administrator of the department , the secretary, was responsible for appointing personnel, establishing facilities, and issuing directives, as well as directing and supervising the activities of the Department, which consisted of the following divisions, each with its own director:

  • Division of Fish and Wildlife
  • Division of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry
  • Division of Soil and Water Conservation
  • Division of Environmental Control

More information about the history of DNREC can be found at

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