Let's rethink Rehoboth ocean outfall

June 27, 2014

Growing up in New Jersey I had the opportunity to make many vacations at the Jersey shore. Then in the late 70s and 80s things changed. Oftentimes many of the beaches were closed due to pollution of the ocean along several of the beaches reaching from Belmar, Seaside, all the way down to Wildwood.

Medical waste was one thing, but when you would walk up to the water and immediately discover that this water was not someplace you wanted to be swimming or laying out on the beach.

The alternative was to purchase a vacation home in the Pocono Mountains - pristine lakes so clear you could see the bottom of the lake, which was 20 feet deep.

At the urging of a friend we visited the sandy beaches of Delaware. Almost immediately we fell in love with Rehoboth Beach, with the most beautiful beaches ever; very well groomed and great water quality.

I had fallen in love with the ocean and sandy beaches during a spring break when I was a junior in college. Two of my best friends and I traveled down the east coast, making our first stop Rehoboth Beach. With surfboards on the roof we visited Virginia Beach, Nags Head, Myrtle Beach and then ending in Ft. Lauderdale. Decidedly the beaches in Rehoboth were the cleanest and most beautiful.

I had forgotten that it was the first stop on our winter trek many years ago and now am saddened by the fact that the white sandy beaches and great water quality could be at risk.

Sometimes we need not take the path to destruction as others have, but perhaps the road less taken. The state of New Jersey has done many things to improve the quality of its beaches, but why follow their bad example. I am sure it has a huge cost attached to all of these efforts, but some things can never be brought back once lost.

I have personally seen where communities have successfully used the spray irrigation system, which is not a new technology, but it has been suggested as a very plausible replacement for the questionable outfall suggested by the present governing body. Do we have the ability to use others as an example? Yes. Just look a few miles north. Do we really want this in our future?

I have spent the last 40 years deeply involved with water and wastewater treatment plants up and down the state of New Jersey coastline. It is no secret that the water levels along the east coast are constantly rising In pollution as well as height. We have seen this in Rehoboth as well. With this in mind we also know that the saltwater is constantly traveling underground, in a westward direction, increasing the salt pollution of our aquifer, which is the water we all drink. Many wells have had to be moved to new locations or abandoned.

Spray irrigation will replace into the ground filtered water with good quality, which will help replenish our depleting aquifer, and as a plus be used to grow crops for local farmers. Would this not be the most sensible road to follow?

We still have time to make all of this happen. I guess it is a good thing that current administration are foot draggers. Stand up. Let's move forward to replenish and make this a better place to live.

Richard L. Dey
Rehoboth Beach

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