Markell must set course for Rehoboth outfall

July 22, 2014

Feb. 26, 2013.

That is the date that ended a public comment period on an environmental impact statement for an ocean outfall in Rehoboth Beach.

Since that day, Rehoboth officials have been waiting for the secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to accept the statement so they can move forward with the outfall – or to reject the statement, which would force officials to reconsider the outfall plan.

The Cape Gazette reported Rehoboth Mayor Sam Cooper was hoping for an a deci­sion by July, but he was talking about July 2013. This decision has now been on hold for 17 months.

Many groups and individuals, from Surfrid­ers to the Sierra Club and Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute Inc., have opposed the outfall and demanded land­based solutions to the wastewater problem. State officials are certainly aware these groups will not sit by if DNREC accepts the state­ment; years of legal battles lie ahead if state officials approve a plan that some citizens say violates the nation’s Clean Water Act.

Meanwhile, Rehoboth wastewater contin­ues to be dumped into the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal, contributing to the ongoing pollution of the Inland Bays and crystallizing once again the heart of the problem.

Rehoboth’s beautiful beaches are the crown jewel of the state’s tourism industry, and the Inland Bays are not far behind. Scientists have testified wastewater from the outfall will be so clean it will not pollute the ocean, but envi­ronmental officials rightly remain concerned about public perception of an outfall and the possible disaster of a system malfunction.

Rehoboth officials moved forward with a plan to solve the wastewater problem at a cost Rehoboth residents can afford. Seventeen months of delay demonstrate state officials oppose that plan.

It’s time for Gov. Jack Markell to propose a solution that demonstrates Delaware’s com­mitment to protecting the oceans and all state waterways and to find a way to pay for it.

Silent delay is not an answer.

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Nick Roth, sports editor.

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