Slaughter Beach officials want to form a Sussex County sewer district for the small Delaware Bay town in the northern part of the county.
At its Aug. 9 meeting, town council voted 5-0 for a resolution requesting that Sussex officials start the process to study the feasibility of connecting the town to the county's central sewer system.
More than 100 residents attended the meeting, either in person or virtually, with a majority of nearly 75 percent in favor of the resolution. Slaughter Beach Mayor Kathleen Lock told residents that the resolution is the first step toward forming a sewer district. That allows county engineering staff to conduct an analysis to establish technical specifications and a cost analysis to eventually be presented to Sussex County Council.
“This is a win-win situation for Sussex County and Slaughter Beach, as well as for the overall environment bordering Delaware Bay and the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, which are enjoyed by millions of people in addition to local residents,” Lock said.
Sussex County engineer Hans Medlarz said because the request came from a municipality and not from an unincorporated area, a petition and referendum are not required, which will speed up the process.
Before any preliminary engineering work can begin, Medlarz said, county council must also approve a resolution for a new sewer district of approximately 250 customers.
“Once we get that, we can apply for funding and work on their behalf,” he said.
He said the county would seek funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.
The engineer said, if the resolution is approved, connection to a wastewater treatment facility could involve a public-private partnership with another wastewater company.
Currently, about half of the residents have newer mound-type septic systems, while the rest have outdated systems requiring pump-outs, which are either near failing or failing.
A horseshoe sanctuary
Slaughter Beach, founded in 1681 and incorporated in 1931, once served as a summer resort for people in the Milford area and featured a boardwalk, dance hall and hotels. The town is part of the Milford Neck Wildlife Area and is a certified horseshoe crab sanctuary. With one main street, Bay Avenue, the town can be accessed from Route 1 by Cedar Creek Road (Route 36) and Slaughter Beach Road.