Rehoboth Property Owners Vote on Ocean Outfall Referendum - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Rehoboth Property Owners Vote on Ocean Outfall Referendum

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

REHOBOTH, Del. -- Polls opened Saturday morning in Rehoboth Beach for residents to vote on a spending referendum on whether to pay for an ocean outfall pipe that would discharge treated wastewater into the ocean.

Convincing property owners that the proposed ocean outfall pipeline is worth its weight in financial responsibility may be the last hurdle for Rehoboth City officials to clear.

Much of the money to fund the pipeline's construction would come from a low interest state loan.

But a number of residents don't see eye to eye with the city including property owner Diane Schobey.

"Here we are a resort town priding ourselves on beautiful beaches and clean water," said Schobey, "and where they're projecting to put our pipe a mile out is a shoal called Hen and Chicken Shoals. That's shallow water. So I don't feel the fluid is going to disperse enough."

Brian Condon lives part time in Rehoboth. Although he too is concerned about the marine life, he says the ocean is more fitting for the outfall than the bay.

"I don't agree with putting biological active material, which is basically you know nutrients, fertilizer, in the ocean. But it's a lot better than putting in the bay and in the wetlands," said Condon,

Gregg Rosner with the Surfrider Foundation, a local conservation group, says they've done as much as they can to fight the city on the outfall's approval

One such effort included filing an appeal against the proposal only to have it rejected for lacking jurisdiction to be heard by Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

Now it's up to the people.

Rosner says the group is willing to take the next steps against the city should the spending referendum pass.

"We'd have to regroup a little bit and see. It's a very long and arduous permitting process that needs to take place. There's seven permits that need to happen for an outfall. Not one, not two, as the city has claimed in public meetings, but seven. You get six, you get five, you don't get it."

Rehoboth has been court ordered to stop dumping treated wastewater into the ocean. City officials decided the best environmental and cost effective option would be to build the ocean outfall pipe.

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