Rehoboth Ocean Outfall Environmental Appeal Rejected - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Rehoboth Ocean Outfall Environmental Appeal Rejected

Posted: Jan 11, 2018 4:16 PM Updated:
Rehoboth Beach(Source: WBOC) Rehoboth Beach(Source: WBOC)

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del.- An environmental appeal against the City of Rehoboth Beach's ocean outfall was found to be without standing this week.

Suzanne Thurman, the executive director of the MERR Institute in Lewes, had filed an appeal asking for mitigations during the outfall construction. Among other things, Thurman asked that an objective, official observer be on site to watch out for endangered species and that an electrocoagulation process--which purifies water--be added to the outfall to eliminate additional contaminants.

"The impact on the ocean would be so much less significant," Thurman tells WBOC. "Traditional wastewater plants only treat for phosphorous and nitrogen and by law that's what they need to focus on, but there still is an enormous presence of pharmaceuticals and heavy metals and endocrine inhibitors, caffeine. Those are very toxic and have a cumulative nature in the ocean." 

Thurman says she was pleased that the vote against her appeal was not unanimous, and she appreciated going through the appeal process, despite the outcome.

Years in the making, the outfall will pump the city and county's treated wastewater over a mile offshore. City officials have long stated that the outfall will not violate any environmental laws, and won't impact the area's tourism. In a statement, Mayor Paul Kuhns said the city was looking forward to completing the project. 

"The city is very pleased with the Environmental Appeals Board decision to grant DNREC and the city's motion to dismiss the appeal," he says. "This closes yet another chapter in a lengthy project and moves us one step closer with the Consent Order's requirement that the city's wastewater effluent not be discharged into the canal." 

Thurman says she is optimistic she'll have conversations with Kuhns and other local officials on how to ensure environmental concerns are addressed. 

"There may be some other things that we aren't a party to, but there's always hope that we can make some improvements to the pipe once it's starting to get ready to gear up to operate," she tells WBOC. "I'm hoping we can have some conversations with the county and create a new way of having dialogue that is inclusive of many people who can provide useful information."

The outfall construction is set to finish by mid-March of this year. 

 

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