Savannah Ditch a tributary of the Delaware Bay
In 2015, Lennea Hoban first attempted to bring the condition of Savannah Road to the attention of Delaware officials.
“I didn’t get far,” said the Georgetown resident.
Unlike the better-known main drag of the same name in Lewes, Georgetown’s Savannah Road is off the beaten path. It begins on the northeast side of town, leads to a Perdue chicken processing plant and goes on into farmland and lush woodlands, parts of which are Redden State Forest.
The western side is bordered by Savannah Ditch, which connects to the Broadkill River and ultimately the Delaware Bay. Fish, turtles and snakes all make their homes in the ditch. Birds and forest-dwelling animals visit.
Unfortunately, the roadside and the ditch are both littered with tires, furniture, appliances, bottles, cans and all sorts of trash, and much of the water is covered in an opaque array of mystery chemicals.
Hoban travels Savannah Road daily taking her daughter to The Jefferson School, which features an outdoor classroom including a beehive, farm animals, two ponds, a green house and plenty of wildlife.
“They promote good stewardship,” Hoban said. “It’s difficult to drive through that horrible abuse of land and water and not do something to set a good example for my daughter.”
She brought the issue to the attention of Georgetown officials, but found out that the area is actually outside of town limits. She couldn’t find an agency willing to clean it up.
Who exactly is responsible? That’s part of the problem. Contacted about it, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control deferred to Sussex County, which in turn deferred to the Delaware Department of Transportation.
This year, Hoban attempted with renewed energy to find someone responsible and willing to clean up the road. She had some luck with DNREC, which alerted their drainage division with a promise to look into it. She found that Rep. Ruth Briggs King had recently tackled the problem.
Briggs King and a handful of volunteers, including Georgetown Mayor Bill West and Councilwoman Chris Lecates, conducted a “community cleanup” April 21. They had collected about 13 bags worth of trash when they stumbled upon a cooler full of meth-making materials. The cleanup had to end early and the road was closed while the cooler was investigated and removed.
Even with all the time in the world, however, Briggs King and her volunteers couldn’t efficiently clean up Savannah Road.
“They need to come in with some sort of large apparatus like a crane to lift things like tires out of the ditch,” she said. “They’ll need DelDOT flaggers. The [Department of Corrections’ inmates] can do some of the work, but they can’t get in the water. A lot of folks have to be involved.”
According to Briggs King, DNREC has Savannah Road “on their list,” coordinating a cleanup with agencies like DelDOT and the DOC. A date has not yet been set, and DNREC representatives did not return requests for information.
“It’s really just deplorable, the way it looks,” said Briggs King. “I think a lot of people have started keeping their eye on it.”
Hoban will continue to press state agencies until a cleanup is complete.
“I believe it’s on the horizon,” she said.