After being cited by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control for violations related to its trash operations, Rehoboth Beach has again been cited by the department, this time for violations related to the wastewater treatment plant.
DNREC program manager Bryan Ashby said the Rehoboth plant missed several tests over a six-month period, mostly for dissolved oxygen levels. The plant also missed tests for pH, enterococcus or bacteria, flow, total suspended solids, and residual chlorine, Ashby said.
Bob Stenger, manager of the plant, said the plant was cited Aug. 23 for record keeping issues, not for any water quality problems.
The plant is given a list of parameters by DNREC as to when to take samples to make sure the plant is running smoothly. Stenger said sometimes samples must be taken three times a week, other times once a day.
In this case, the plant was required to test once per week for dissolved oxygen, which is measured to see how much of it is in the treated wastewater, Stenger said. Ashby said the plant missed dissolved oxygen tests at least once a month.
While Ashby said the tests were overlooked at the facility, Stenger said equipment used to measure dissolved oxygen levels had malfunctioned on several occasions and the results were not documented, as the plant is required to do. He said the plant’s dissolved oxygen levels are typically above DNREC’s minimum standards.
By law, the plant is required show compliance within 30 days from Aug. 23. Ashby said DNREC would be watching the Rehoboth plant more closely. Stenger said he has already begun compliance by purchasing a second meter to read dissolved oxygen levels in case of equipment malfunction.
Rehoboth was cited by DNREC on Aug. 28 for dumping residential and commercial trash in with beach and Boardwalk, a violation of an agreement between the city and DNREC.
Meanwhile, the city is still awaiting a decision from DNREC Secretary Collin O'Mara on Rehoboth's $25 million ocean outfall project. According to a status report by the Water Infrastructure Advisory Council, a decision is expected to come sometime this month.
A separate project is $10 million in upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant. The city has already received approval for the project from the council, but Rehoboth must pass a referendum for permission to borrow the money.