Study Shows Storm Water Contamination in Rehoboth After Heavy Ra - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Study Shows Storm Water Contamination in Rehoboth After Heavy Rainfall

Posted: May 14, 2018 5:24 PM Updated:

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del.- The City of Rehoboth Beach's stormwater outfalls have shown high levels of enterococcus after heavy rains, a new study from GHD shows

According to the engineering firm's presentation, a few of the city's stormwater outfalls had roughly 2,000 colony-forming units of enterococcus per 100 milliliters. GHD's recommendation was 60. 

"These heavy rainfalls catch bacteria that may already be in the storm water outfalls and it pushes it out into the ocean very quickly and in a very forceful manner, Mayor Paul Kuhns explains. "Right away as it comes out of the outfall it is pretty bacteria laden. However within a certain amount of time because of the movement in the ocean, that is broken up or diffused pretty substantially."

Kuhns says they plan to find ways to prevent contaminants from even reaching the storm drains in the city, and therefore cut back on the level of bacteria in the storm water outfalls. A few examples Kuhns gave was speaking to homeowners about using gentler fertilizers or trying to ensure car oil doesn't run into the streets.

"Because of the massive movement of water going into the storm sewers, it gathers everything that's there and creates some bacteria," he says. "So what we have to do is work proactively with the community to make sure that the things going into the stormwater are fairly natural."

Kuhns said that even after big storms, Rehoboth's ocean was safe to swim in, but Kevin Chandler with the Surfrider Foundation disagrees.

"We recommend at least 48 hours after a significant rain event. 24 hours at the very minimum," he says. "But the the bacteria that still may exist in dry or wet sand could last a week or more."

Chandler--the chair of the organization's Delaware chapter--says he hopes they see the city put up signs warning swimmers of the potential for bacteria after heavy rainfall.

"Typically in areas you will see 'Don't swim near outfall pipes after a certain time period,'" he explains. "There's nothing that ever exists and that may be something the Surfrider Foundation takes it upon themselves to advocate."

Kuhns says the city is also looking at cleaning sand filters and catch basins more often. 

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