July 22 Editorial

In Rehoboth, time for Silver Lake greatness

July 22, 2011

It’s hard to estimate the number of people attracted to a resort because of positive publicity, but there’s no question that good news about the quality of Rehoboth’s swimming water and monitoring program and the vintage charm of its nationally celebrated Boardwalk help to keep people coming. The positive economic benefit to the entire Cape region is astounding.

In addition to the great allure of the beach and Boardwalk, the three unique freshwater lakes in and around Rehoboth – Comegys, Gerar and Silver – add tremendously to the attractive beauty of the area. Lake Comegys, between Rehoboth and Dewey Beach, and Lake Gerar on the north side of town, have benefited visibly over the past several years as a result of conservation easements allowing for vegetative buffers.  Those buffers help keep the waters of the lakes cleaner by filtering the water that flows into them from rainfall throughout the year. Lake Comegys, the smallest of the three of these natural treasures, has held its own well over the years. The appearance and water quality of Lake Gerar, because of an aggressive buffer planting and aeration program pursued by the city, has improved dramatically in the past decade.

Unfortunately, the largest, most accessible and most visible of the three lakes – Silver Lake – is, unlike the other two lakes, deteriorating in quality and needs serious attention.  There are water-level problems due to inconsistent management of the outfall pipe and water-control structure at the east of the lake.  At the west end, a sediment problem documented in the Rehoboth Beach comprehensive plan, probably exacerbated by water-level management issues, has left that part of the lake with just a few inches of water.  Over the next few days, with high temperatures simmering that water, no one will be surprised if another fish kill litters the lake’s banks.

This hot weather also leads to bad smells in that area of Silver Lake, certainly no attraction for the beautiful lakeside children’s park built for that section of the city or the oak-shaded school grounds on the other side.

Through a cooperative program with the state, Rehoboth should be able to find the $300,000 needed to dredge the west end of Silver Lake and come up with a management plan for a proper water level. The city has seen what positive energy comes with maintenance and improvement of its major public features.  Taking care of this real and nagging problem at Silver Lake would raise that sheen to an even higher brightness.


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