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Politics & Government

Rehoboth residents approve funds for ocean outfall

surfrider_outfall.jpg
Eli Chen/Delaware Public Media
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John Weber and a volunteer with the Surfrider Foundation encouraging residents to vote against the outfall project

 

The city of Rehoboth Beach approved the use of municipal funds to build an ocean outfall pipe Saturday.

Residents and property owners lined up to vote for or against the construction of a pipe that would transport the city’s treated wastewater a mile out into the ocean. The city’s sewage system currently pumps that wastewater out to the Inland Bays, which has become impaired in part because of nutrients from Rehoboth Beach’s wastewater.

After the polls closed on Saturday evening, results showed that the majority of residents were in favor of the outfall pipe, by about 30 votes.

 

 

For the last decade, DNREC considered two alternatives to the city’s wastewater treatment system. One was the outfall pipe, which Secretary David Small signed off a loan for in January. The other alternative was land application, or using wastewater as a fertilizer for farmland.

John Neal, a Rehoboth homeowner for 44 years, voted for the outfall. He believes the outfall makes more fiscal sense than land application.

 

“If we go with the ocean outfall, we will have a fixed cost over time," said Neal.  "But with the land disposal, we do not have control on costs and that’s going to continue to escalate over time. In other words, the city will not have control on costs because it will be done by another firm which writes the ticket on it every year.”

 

Others, like Dick Byrne, who’s lived in Rehoboth Beach for eight years, feels there must be a better option than sending the wastewater to the ocean, so he voted against approving funds for the pipe.

 

“There’s not one best way to the respond to the need to deal with the outfall. It seems like if we go to a spray irrigation type of system, then that gives us options for the future as the science and technology improves and better informs us of what might be least harmful to the environment,” said Byrne.

There are still seven permits that have to be approved by DNREC and the Army Corps of Engineers before construction can begin on the pipe. If the permits are approved, the city will likely begin building the pipe in late 2017, to be completed in 2018.

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