Field trip confirms opposition to ocean outfall

June 27, 2014

Last week I traveled to Middletown and met with the town’s mayor. The mayor took me on a tour of the town’s wastewater treatment facility and spray irrigation program. Middletown has, for the past 10 years, used its treated wastewater to irrigate its 100 acre public park and to provide water to a number of local farmers who use this water to irrigate their crops, corn, soybeans, etc. The town is currently treating an average of 1.2 million gallons per day.

This is very similar to Rehoboth Beach’s current wastewater needs. This Spray to Farmers program is overseen by the State of Delaware Department of Agriculture and the University of Delaware. By sending spray irrigation to farmers, farmers will not have to draw their irrigation needs for water from our aquifers. This is a huge savings for our local farmers and helps maintain our aquifers.

As Rehoboth Beach charges forward on its plan to dump valuable wastewater into the ocean, lots of Sussex County farmers who need water are clamoring for a more sensible approach to the mandate placed on the city to get its wastewater out of the canal and Rehoboth Bay by the end of 2014.

As I run for mayor of Rehoboth Beach, many Rehoboth Beach citizens are completely against dumping wastewater into the beautiful and acclaimed ocean off Rehoboth.

Many believe that the Rehoboth ocean outfall project, as they call it, is a done deal. I am here to tell you that it is not a done deal. I called DNREC's Assistant Secretary, David Small, who confirmed that the project has been submitted but has not been approved. The following is the vision and mission for the department charged with approving or declining the ocean outfall application:

The department envisions a Delaware that offers a healthy environment where people embrace a commitment to the protection, enhancement and enjoyment of the environment in their daily lives; where Delawareans’ stewardship of natural resources ensures the sustainability of these resources for the appreciation and enjoyment of future generations; and where people recognize that a healthy environment and a strong economy support one another.

The mission of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is to ensure the wise management, conservation, and enhancement of the State’s natural resources, protect public health and the environment, provide quality outdoor recreation, improve the quality of life and educate the public on historic, cultural, and natural resource use, requirements and issues.

My tour of Middletown showed parkland that was green and stays green even in the hottest summers. Additionally, private farms last year had corn stalks that were 14 feet tall, as the corn in Sussex County withered in the heat. Sussex county farmers want this water.

Lastly, the report from the State of Delaware Clean Water Advisory Council showed a 2010 cost estimate of ocean outfall at $36.6 million. By comparison, an estimate only a couple of months old, shows a spray irrigation cost estimate of $33 million. So, if the costs are similar, or less expensive, why would anyone rather waste valuable water by dumping it into the ocean vs. giving it free of charge to local farmers who desperately want this water.

DNREC needs to remind itself of its mission and vision and decline the application from the City of Rehoboth Beach. Tell the city to go back and reevaluate this project in favor of spray irrigation which is sustainable. Let’s not waste this water, deplete our aquifers and give the impression that our ocean contains waste.

As mayor I will immediately work with DNREC to re-evaluate this project. Like many of my neighbors, I too am against ocean outfall!

PS: this sounds like I have done my homework!

Thomas McGlone
candidate for mayor of Rehoboth Beach

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