Sussex County officials are joining with the Lewes Board of Public Works to conduct a long-range study on the future of Lewes' wastewater treatment facility.
At its May 24 meeting, council voted to provide $124,250 for 50% of the cost of the study to be performed by consultant engineering group GHD.
The study will look at several options to increase the resilience of the treatment plant to storms and sea-level rise. Options include:
• Maintaining the Lewes treatment facility at its current location at its current capacity while hardening the perimeter with a dike around the facility, raising or floodproofing the biosolids processes, and adding on-site fuel storage for extended storm events and emergencies
• Relocating the Lewes facility outside the floodplain, increasing its capacity to meet future demand, and investigating spray irrigation and rapid infiltration disposal, continued canal discharge and ocean outfall
• Relocating of the wastewater treatment facility to the county's Wolfe Neck facility in a partnership with Sussex County, while investigating continued canal discharge versus biological polishing, which is the final tertiary effluent treatment before discharge from a plant. It removes suspended solids and biological oxygen demand that may be left behind after secondary treatment.
Sussex County and the BPW have a history of partnerships dating back to 2016, when an agreement was reached to allow pumping of up to 75,000 gallons per day to the BPW system with an increased limit of up to 300,000 gallons per day during the fall and winter at a rate of $2.40 per 1,000 gallons. In 2018, those flow limits were increased.
In 2017-18, BPW and Sussex County completed a joint sewer pipe project along a portion of Gills Neck Road.
Also in 2017, the BPW entered into an agreement to dispose of biosolids at the county's Inland Bays treatment plant.
Sussex County engineer Hans Medlarz said if relocation to Wolfe Neck is the preferred option, most of the transmission and all treatment plant upgrades would be funded by the county. It would also require a new agreement detailing future plant operation and maintenance.
He said the other options would be funded by BPW with a county financial contribution based on prorated percentages.