Looking to address system reliability, safety and general maintenance issues at the city’s wastewater treatment plant, Rehoboth commissioners voted in favor of moving forward with $3 million worth of infrastructure improvements at the plant.
Commissioners voted to approve the expenditure during a special meeting May 6, after Public Works Director Kevin Williams explained the need for the work during a regular commissioner meeting April 24.
Williams said the concrete walls of the oxidation ditches have cracks in them; the concrete floors of the headworks building, which houses the force mains for the entire wastewater system, have holes in them; the effluent pipes that run from the oxidation ditches into the clarifiers are corroding; and the debris screening system is old and doesn’t work as well as it should.
Williams said the work had been planned for future phases of the treatment plant upgrade, but it was moved forward because of its importance.
Similar to the $6 million in electrical upgrades at the plant, Sussex County is going to split the cost of these improvements with the city and loan the city its half of the costs at zero percent interest.
In July 2018, the commissioners voted unanimously to take Sussex County up on an offer to fund approximately $5.7 million in improvements that include a switchgear and structural upgrades to the city's wastewater treatment plant. The city and county are splitting those costs 50/50. The county is also funding the city's portion of the project through a 10-year loan with zero percent interest.
This would mean the city and county are splitting total costs of about $9 million for improvements at the Rehoboth wastewater treatment plant.
The city has been given a little more than $52 million in a line of credit from Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to complete the outfall project and related wastewater treatment facility upgrades. The city used a little less than $42 million to complete the outfall.
Mayor Paul Kuhns said the loan from the county does not count against the DNREC loan, but it does count against the city’s referendum-approved $52 million. With the new $1.5 million, the city is now at about $46.5 million, he said.
“Even though we have about $10 million available from DNREC, we’d have to go to another referendum to borrow that full $10 million,” said Kuhns.
During the special meeting, City Manager Sharon Lynn said the special meeting was necessary because the county has begun budget discussions and needed to know if the city was going to accept the county offer.
Rehoboth, county apply for wastewater construction permit
DNREC’s Division of Water, Surface Water Discharges Section issued a legal notice May 8 saying Sussex County and Rehoboth have submitted a permit application for wastewater facilities construction.
According to the legal notice, the two government entities are proposing upgrades, expansion and refurbishment of their wastewater treatment facilities, South Coastal and Rehoboth.
The primary objective of the South Coastal improvements is to expand the plant to a maximum capacity of 10 million gallons per day by duplicating the existing secondary and tertiary treatment facilities, and by modifying the preliminary treatment, flow equalization, disinfection, effluent pumping and solids handling facilities at the plant, located at 33711 South Coastal Lane in Frankford.
The primary objective of the Rehoboth improvements is to replace an unreliable power distribution system at the facility located at 20573 Roosevelt St.
The legal notice said a public hearing concerning the above application will not be held unless DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin determines that a hearing is in the public interest or if a written request with merit is received on or before Wednesday, May 22. A request for a public hearing has merit if it exhibits a familiarity with the application and provides a reasoned statement of the permit’s probable impact.
Questions regarding the applications and plans for the above are available for inspection by contacting Keith Kooker, at DNREC Environmental Finance, Enterprise Business Park, 97 Commerce Way, Suite 106, Dover, DE 19904, or by calling 302-739-9941.