The Lewes Board of Public Works expects its wastewater treatment plant to be back up and running in the afternoon of Dec. 28.
BPW President Pres Lee said replacement filters arrived from Canada Dec. 27 and crews have been working to install them. He expects work to continue until the fix is complete.
The new filters will replace one of four parallel troughs that are used to treat wastewater. Lee said only one is needed to treat the amount of wastewater received in the off season.
Crews from Tidewater Utilities Inc, operator of the plant, will continue to manually wash existing filters before reinstalling those. Lee said a second train of filters should be up and running early next week, creating needed redundancy.
From there, crews will work to wash the filters for the remaining two filter trains.
Lee said he was notified of a malfunction at the plant Dec. 19, forcing two of the plant’s four filter troughs out of service.
The BPW was told the issue was minor and should’ve been fixed within 12 hours. An accident at the plant Dec. 21 alerted BPW officials to the fact that the problem had not yet been fixed, Lee said.
At some point, he said, another part of the filtering process malfunctioned, allowing dirty water into the system and forcing all four filter troughs out of service.
Lee said raw sewage is not entering the canal. He said the wastewater is being diverted to tanks where it can settle. It’s then disinfected to reach an acceptable level of bacteria kill before being discharged into the marsh. The process does not reduce nutrient and organic levels, but Lee said the wetlands will help filter the water before it reaches Lewes-Rehoboth Canal.
Residents are asked to reduce water usage as much as possible while the issue is repaired. Lee said water conservation is aimed at reducing the flow that has to be managed and discharged at the plant.
The BPW has also stopped receiving wastewater from Sussex County’s system while repairs are ongoing. The BPW and county have an agreement that allows up to 300,000 gallons of wastewater to flow from the county to the BPW’s system.
Water conservation efforts are expected to remain in place until next week to ensure the wastewater plant is operating properly.
To read more about the situation, click the related stories on the right side of this page.