Dilution not the solution for Rehoboth
“Dilution is the solution to pollution” was a saying that was once popular in the 1970s, but it is no longer relevant in 2014. Today we know better. Off the shelf, quick solutions for sewage effluent disposal near the bathing beaches of Rehoboth should not be considered as a viable alternative. The ocean outfall question is complex, and one that impacts not only the citizens of Rehoboth Beach, but the entire economy of Sussex County, and the many vacationers who come to the Delaware coast as a year round destination.
Coastal Delaware has been blessed with a beautiful coastal ecosystem that contains pristine beaches, clean ocean water, salt marshes, wetlands, dunes and abundant fish, marine mammals, and wildlife. The abundance of natural resources attracts thousands of vacationers every summer to the Delaware shores and results in millions of dollars in tourism and commercial development. This fragile coastline requires constant maintenance and vigilance.
A Google search for beach closures due to bacterial contamination reveals many instances around the country of beach closures after excess rainfall events that overwhelm the local wastewater treatment plant. If the proposed outfall is built in the proposed location, less than a mile from the sands of Deauville Beach, this may soon become a reality for Rehoboth. Once one outfall is built, how long before another one is built? The impacts are cumulative and irreversible. Treated sewage effluent may seem clear, but it still contains a potent mixture of pharmaceuticals, household cleaners, solvents and other waste liquids.
The ocean outfall is an issue that politicians at all levels of government should be working to resolve for the best possible environmentally sound solution that meets 21st century standards. Preserving the ocean and near shore ecosystem is vital for sustaining tourism, and the quality of life in coastal Delaware. This will require leadership that understands this complex problem, and has the resolve to preserve the precious coastal ecosystem in Sussex County for generations to come.
Frank J. Monteferrante Ph.D