Rehoboth approves new county agreement

Construction contracts to be approved by Aug. 14
August 8, 2017

The Rehoboth Beach commissioners unanimously approved a revised contract with Sussex County to treat wastewater from neighboring Henlopen Acres, Dewey Beach and North Shores.

Under the agreement, the county would handle the city’s biosolids treatment, hauling it to a new biosolids plant at the county’s Inland Bays facility. The city would pay an annual fee to the county for the biosolids treatment, but the city will not have to contribute to operating costs. The fee would be determined after the new facility is online.

The new contract updates an arrangement that has been in place since 1983. The impetus for revising it has come with Rehoboth undertaking a $52.5 million ocean outfall project, which moves the disposal site for the treated effluent from the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal to a site 6,000 feet off Deauville Beach. The county has a 42 percent stake in the outfall project. The agreement could be ratified by Sussex County Council as soon as Tuesday, Aug. 8, the date of the council’s next meeting.

Rehoboth Mayor Sam Cooper announced Aug. 7 that the city will approve four contracts related to the outfall project at a special meeting, 9:30 a.m., Monday, Aug. 14, at the Rehoboth fire hall. Cooper said the urgency to approve the contracts is so the contractor for the ocean work can accumulate materials to install 3,000 feet of pipe and a diffuser under the ocean floor. The project will be on a tight schedule, with contractors expected to mobilize by Sunday, Oct. 1 and work to be completed by Monday, April 30. The ocean work will have to be completed sooner, with environmental regulations forcing work to start no sooner than Sunday, Oct. 15 and finishing by Thursday, March 15. The city is under a count order to cease dumping its treated effluent in the canal by June 30, 2018.

Manson Construction of Seattle was the low bidder for the ocean work with a $27 million bid. A-Del Construction of Newark was the low bidder to install the force main, the pipe that will take the treated effluent from the wastewater treatment plant to the Deauville Beach parking area. A-Del’s bid was $5.7 million, which includes repaving Henlopen Avenue once the pipe is installed.

Finally, Allan Myers Construction of Worcester, Pa., was the winning bidder for the first phase of upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant and to install a new pump station at the plant. The plant upgrades include new clarifiers and screening equipment; Allan Myers’ low bid was $2.2 million. The pump station will propel the treated effluent through the force main; the low bid was $1.7 million.

Bids for the project came in higher than Rehoboth officials were expecting, particularly for the ocean work, which city officials and engineers have said is higher because the work is taking place in the winter, when weather will be worse.

All told, the city’s bids, contingencies included, come out to $43 million, leaving the city unable to build its own biosolids facility or fully fund Phase 2 of the treatment plant upgrades intended to improve the reliability of the plant, upgrading equipment that has been in operation for 30 years. To do this work, county officials have agreed to take the city’s biosolids and have agreed to help fund aspects of the plant reliability upgrades.