DNREC Approves Rehoboth Ocean Outfall - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

DNREC Approves Rehoboth Ocean Outfall

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REHOBOTH BEACH, Del.- The Delaware Department of Natural Resources approved a $25 million state grant for the city of Rehoboth Beach to build an ocean outfall for treated wastewater amidst controversy. 

Currentl, wastewater outfall is in the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal, which is contributing nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen, adding to the already immense pollution in the Inland Bays. The city is now required to cease dumping in the canal.

After years of proposals, DNREC has finally approved the ocean outfall. However, some argue there were more environmentally friendly options.

According to DNREC officials, "although the department generally prefers land application over discharges to surface waters... ocean outfall is the most environmentally and financially responsible alternative."

Gregg Rosner disagrees; he's a member of the Delaware chapter of Surfrider Foundation, a beach environmental group.

"It's absolutely a tragedy," he said. "Not only for the ocean and its habitat and all the species that live there, but also I think for the state to really not have a vision for the future for our ocean health and conservation."

The city completed an environmental impact statement highlighting why ocean outfall is the best option, but Rosner thinks it was flawed.

He showed WBOC a letter from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration detailing the potential negative impacts of ocean outfall. For instance the report explained "Point source discharges may affect the growth, survival and condition of [essential fish habitat]-managed species and prey species if high levels of contaminants... are discharged."

Rehoboth Beach Mayor Sam Cooper said he understands the negative comments.

"It's hard to have a project like this that doesn't create some controversy," he explained. "So there are people that don't like it, but I think the people who have studied it closely and are familiar with it think it is a very sound alternative and will serve the city well long into the future."

Groups like Surfrider do plan to appeal the decision.

The project is slated to be complete by June 1, 2018.


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