If state opposes outfall, it should help pay for alternative

May 8, 2017


Rehoboth Beach officials have worked for more than a decade on how to meet a federal mandate to get effluent from the city's wastewater treatment plant out of Lewes-Rehoboth Canal, which flows into the Inland Bays.

For years, the Cape Gazette has pointed out Rehoboth Beach is a treasure, not just to its residents, but to the State of Delaware, and the key to the city's success is its beautiful beaches and sparkling ocean.

For years the Cape Gazette has pointed out that even a mile-long ocean outfall poses risks to our favorite beach town's reputation, a problem former Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Collin O'Mara called "bad optics."

We've also pointed out that increasing demand for water coupled with predicted sea level rise could invite saltwater intrusion into our water supply.

In light of these factors, we've said, in this space, spray irrigation is a no-brainer.

Except that when the numbers finally came in, the cost of spray irrigation to city ratepayers was about double the cost of ocean outfall.

That being the case, Rehoboth officials had little choice but the outfall – especially when some environmental scientists say ocean outfall is the better alternative.

State officials have dragged their feet at every step in this process.

O'Mara held up permitting for over a year trying to find a better answer, but eventually he left office before finding one.

Meanwhile, costs mount as the city moves forward with its plan, approved by city voters in a 2016 referendum.

Now the Carney administration has apparently halted final permits until new DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin reviews the plan. Meanwhile, polluting nutrients flow into our Inland Bays.

We say, enough.

If the state opposes ocean outfall, then it should deny the permit and commit to helping the people of Rehoboth pay for a plan that will keep both our ocean and our state waters clean.

No decision is not a solution.

State officials must put up or shut up.



  • Editorials are considered by the editorial board and written by Laura Ritter, news editor, and Dennis Forney, publisher, with occasional contributions from other board members: Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; Nick Roth, sports editor; and Chris Rausch, associate publisher.