Markell must set course for Rehoboth outfall
Feb. 26, 2013.
That is the date that ended a public comment period on an environmental impact statement for an ocean outfall in Rehoboth Beach.
Since that day, Rehoboth officials have been waiting for the secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to accept the statement so they can move forward with the outfall – or to reject the statement, which would force officials to reconsider the outfall plan.
The Cape Gazette reported Rehoboth Mayor Sam Cooper was hoping for an a decision by July, but he was talking about July 2013. This decision has now been on hold for 17 months.
Many groups and individuals, from Surfriders to the Sierra Club and Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute Inc., have opposed the outfall and demanded landbased solutions to the wastewater problem. State officials are certainly aware these groups will not sit by if DNREC accepts the statement; years of legal battles lie ahead if state officials approve a plan that some citizens say violates the nation’s Clean Water Act.
Meanwhile, Rehoboth wastewater continues to be dumped into the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal, contributing to the ongoing pollution of the Inland Bays and crystallizing once again the heart of the problem.
Rehoboth’s beautiful beaches are the crown jewel of the state’s tourism industry, and the Inland Bays are not far behind. Scientists have testified wastewater from the outfall will be so clean it will not pollute the ocean, but environmental officials rightly remain concerned about public perception of an outfall and the possible disaster of a system malfunction.
Rehoboth officials moved forward with a plan to solve the wastewater problem at a cost Rehoboth residents can afford. Seventeen months of delay demonstrate state officials oppose that plan.
It’s time for Gov. Jack Markell to propose a solution that demonstrates Delaware’s commitment to protecting the oceans and all state waterways and to find a way to pay for it.
Silent delay is not an answer.