DNREC issues violations for Lewes sewer plant

10-day incident may result in fines
February 6, 2020

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has issued a notice of violation related to the discharge of 3.9 million gallons of partially treated wastewater into the marsh adjacent to the Lewes sewer plant on American Legion Road.

The incident occurred from Dec. 19 to Jan. 1, after an equipment failure forced plant operator White Marsh Environmental Systems Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Tidewater Utilities Inc., to bypass the plant’s micron filters and treat wastewater with hydrogen peroxide before discharging it from the facility.

In its notice issued Feb. 5, DNREC says the discharge of partially treated wastewater violated state code and the state’s regulations governing the control of water pollution.

The incident also violated the terms of the Lewes Board of Public Works’ National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for maintaining a facility efficiently and in good working order.

Within 30 days of the notice, the BPW is to provide DNREC with a comprehensive investigation report detailing the cause, actions taken during the incident and current status of the plant. They are to submit an emergency contingency plan to prevent a similar incident in the future. They are also to submit a proposal for assessing impacts to the wetlands that occurred as a result of the bypass.

The BPW updated the public on its investigation at a Jan. 29 public meeting. When the investigation is complete, BPW officials plan to hold another meeting to inform the public.

In the notice, DNREC says it may seek penalities for violations that have occurred.

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