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Delaware’s taking initial steps in new push for clean water

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Delaware expects to make moves to clean up the state’s water this year, and one of the first is in Sussex County where a more reliable source of water and wastewater services is coming to a community previously plagued by unsanitary conditions.

It’s the pilot project of the Governor’s Clean Water Initiative for Underserved Communities.

Delaware Public Media’s Rebecca Baer spoke with DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin about the program and this first project at the Donovan Smith Mobile Home Park in Lewes.

Delaware Public Media's Rebecca Baer interviews DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin about the Clean Water Initiative for Underserved Communities.

Residents of a Sussex County mobile home park had health and safety concerns as sewage from a failing septic tank plagued their community earlier this year.

Now, a permanent fix for the Donovan Smith mobile home park is on the way.

It’s part of the new Clean Water Initiative for Underserved Communities launched by the Gov. Carney.

DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin says the program

DNREC Sec. Shawn Garvin head shot
State of Delaware
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DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin

targets areas - like Donovan Smith - that have been left behind, even though loans for such projects have been available for many years.

"There’s a lot of communities that just couldn’t have a seat at that table because of circumstances, because of governance, because of funding, and so this really allows us to bring those services to them that they deserve," said Garvin.  

The Donovan Smith project is a pilot program with plans to expand.

"The idea is that as we’re getting through Donovan Smith, we’re evaluating other communities currently to see where the next community might be and the hope is that we’ll be able to start doing multiple communities at a time because we’ll have partners coming to the table saying 'Hey, I've got an area that we think works for this' and that’s the hope and goal," Garvin explained.

Work on the Donovan Smith project in Lewes is expected to start later this year.

Rebecca Baer comes Delaware Public Media from The Florida Channel in Tallahassee where she covered state government and produced documentary features for the series, Florida Crossroads.