Rehoboth Beach Awards Ocean Outfall Contracts - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Rehoboth Beach Awards Ocean Outfall Contracts

Posted: 08/14/2017 17:47:00 -04:00 Updated:

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. - The City of Rehoboth Beach awarded four contracts Monday related to the ocean outfall and various wastewater treatment upgrade projects. 

The four bids--which include a force main and effluent pumping system- totaled $37,381,407. The ocean outfall bid was awarded to Manson Construction for $27,655,850. Their involvement was questioned during the meeting, as GHD--the lead contractor on the project-- said that the company had been found in violation twice: once by OSHA for not having a handrail on a project that Manson did not deem necessary, and secondly by the EPA for an issue with a dredging project. GHD Principal Kelvin George said he believes the OSHA violation was waived and the EPA citation was settled because so many years had passed since the alleged incident that Manson couldn't provide data to substantiate the EPA's claims. 

Sussex County Engineer Hans Medlarz offered his support for Manson, saying their overall performance is how they should be judged. 

"You have no control 100 percent over the lowest man on the totem pole who fills up the barge...these things happen," he says. "When you look at the big picture, all the performance evaluation criteria--which you have picked and assembled in the pre-qualification which we review--we feel comfortable with it."

It was Medlarz' show of support that convinced Commissioner Kathy McGuiness to go in favor of awarding the contracts, making the vote unanimous. She stressed there must be oversight with this project.

"I'm really concerned about the contract, how it's drafted, what the penalties are, the responsibilities" she says. "Because this is very crucial not only to our coastline, our economics, our tourism, our marine life, but the state."

With the contracts in place, work on the ocean outfall--which will pump the city's treated wastewater a mile offshore--is set to begin in October, but there is still an appeal from MERR Institute Executive Director Suzanne Thurman. She says the outfall is costly and could harm marine life. She's hoping for mitigation during construction.

"The mitigations would simply be to abide by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, so to have observers on board, to have work stoppages during times [endangered] species are observed," she says. "We ask that those laws be upheld and I don't think we should have to ask for them to be upheld. They are laws for very important reasons."

An appeal will not stay the process, so work is set to begin in October. Mayor Sam Cooper says it's a huge accomplishment.

"For years we've moved at a snail's pace and the past few months we've been going leaps and bounds," he says. "This is a big, big, big, step." 

The outfall is scheduled to be complete by April 2018.

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