For the second time in a little more than two years, Sussex County has submitted an application to the state for a permit that would allow it to add a new connection to Rehoboth Beach’s wastewater sewer line.
In early 2020, the county submitted an application and was subsequently allowed to connect a pump station on Oyster House Road to Rehoboth’s nearby treatment plant by way of an 8-inch-diameter, 160-foot-long pipeline underneath the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal. That project was completed in the spring of 2021.
According to a July 24 public notice issued by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Water, the county is now proposing to install approximately 2,491 linear feet of a 6-inch-diameter sanitary sewer force main, valves and related accessory items north of Rehoboth Beach.
The notice says the force main installation will begin at the intersection of Hebron and Holland Glade roads, continue about 400 feet south on the west side of Hebron Road, turn west to the back of the properties bordering Hebron Road, and then head south before connecting to a Rehoboth Beach gravity sewer manhole on the north side of Dunbar Street.
“The purpose of the proposed force main is to provide the ability for Sussex County to send sanitary sewer flow from their wastewater system to the city’s treatment facility if needed,” reads the notice.
Sussex County Engineer Hans Medlarz said the 1-year-old connection allowed the county to direct the wastewater from West Rehoboth to the city’s treatment facility. This new connection will add the Holland Glade Road area of the county’s wastewater system, he said.
Medlarz said the proposed connection will also allow the county to send wastewater to the city when the county’s spray irrigation system is not available because the ground is too wet. If the connection already existed, the county would have used it this year, he said.
Rehoboth Beach Public Works Director Kevin Williams said this really is not a new connection to the city’s system. The potential increase in flow will come to Rehoboth through an existing connection that the county has to the city’s system, he said.
Williams said this connection will allow the county to increase its potential flow to the city’s wastewater treatment plant up to 42% of design capacity in accordance with a 2017 agreement between the city and the county. The benefit to the city is that the county will pay additional operating costs associated with the increased flow, he said.
Medlarz said the connection will give the county more flexibility and is the last piece of the puzzle related to connecting to the city’s treatment facility. There will be no more requests, he said.
The proposed connection comes after the county approached the city last year to discuss using excess capacity of the city’s ocean outfall. The city entertained the idea, but ultimately decided not to allow the county to hook into its outfall because commissioners didn’t want to lose control of what’s coming out of the outfall.
Medlarz said this proposed connection and the discussion earlier this year have nothing to do with each other. That was about sending county-treated wastewater from its Wolfe Neck treatment facility directly to the outfall, while this is about sending excess untreated wastewater to the city to be processed at the city’s treatment facility, he said.