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Repairs planned to Lewes facility as partially treated sewage continues to flow into Delaware Bay

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Repairs are planned at a Lewes wastewater facility as partially treated sewage continues to be discharged into the Delaware Bay. 

The membrane filters used to clean sewage at Tidewater Utilities Inc.’s Lewes facility were contaminated on Dec. 18 during an automated backwash process. 

DNREC officials say Tidewater has since been bypassing its usual treatment process and discharging sewage treated with hydrogen peroxide into the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal. 

DNREC Division of Water Director Virgil Holmes says both Tidewater and the state are testing bacteria levels in the canal. 

“The results back from Tidewater indicate that the fecals are knocked down substantially almost to near background levels by the time it gets to the bridges in the L & R canal,” said Holmes.    

Holmes adds that Tidewater has ordered new membranes which are expected to arrive Friday. He says Tidewater will be treating all the water flowing through the plant once they are installed. 

A moratorium is in effect on shellfish harvest downstream from the facility. That will be lifted 21 days after the area water returns to normal fecal bacteria levels.

“So our greatest concern is eating any raw fish or shellfish from there,” said Holmes. “That’s why there’s a moratorium on harvesting shellfish right now.”   

Holmes thanks any Lewes residents for any measures taken to conserve the discharge of wastewater from homes. 

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