You Can Still Say No To The Rehoboth Wastewater Outfall Project
I attended the public comment period about the Rehoboth Outfall project a couple of weeks ago. I haven’t had time to write this up until today. This is going to be somewhat short and to the point. I was in a room with close to seventy people. I know for a fact at least fifty of those people spoke against the outfall. There were only five people that spoke in support of the outfall. Two of them were part of the project or worked for the town of Rehoboth. One of the people that spoke in favor of the outfall literally said she didn’t understand why this comment period was even being done because this project has all been approved. NO IT HAS NOT. That is where she and many are wrong. This project still needs many permits and has not been approved at all, federally. They need a separate permit form the Army Corp of Engineers. Who by the way received a huge amount of letters against this outfall project. Thank you all for that.
When I was able to comment on this project my main question was and always has been, why are we using antiquated technology to clean water. Why don’t we use better technology to clean the water so it can be reused or is much cleaner to dump on land or even in the water, at that point it would be clean enough it wouldn’t matter. By clean I mean get all the pharmaceuticals and chemicals out of it the EPA has yet to regulate, but they know are an issue. I asked the audience at one point how many anglers are in the room, including mine only nine hands went up, only one of those hands was in favor of an outfall,the rest were not. That person works for the state of Delaware, so no surprise on their answer. There are over 300,000 Delaware Fishing licenses sold each year, we can do better than nine people. I even asked how many business owners were there in favor of this project or against. There weren’t any business owners, well at least none raised their hands. I pointed out that as well as writing letters we could go another route to fight, since this project is all about money, and I am tired of beating my head on the wall. Maybe we should stop supporting the very town that is going to dump their waste into our ocean. Sussex county residents have no say or vote on this outfall project, but we are being asked to help foot the bill. If I don’t support a business on the waste water system, then I am not contributing to the problem. Seems like simple logic,until you realize most of route 1 is on that system. That is a lot of businesses that are contributing to this waste water issue. Many of which have no say in the outcome, and don’t want to see this happen either. Truth is we all have a say in this we just have to speak up. You have a few days to do just that with the links below.
One person pointed out at the comment period, that the project has to go along the Lewes Canal and that construction could be detrimental to the canal. No one has even talked about that issue. The canal is in bad enough shape as it is filling in with silt. Not to mention the waste water outfall pipe that was supposed to be out of there by now.
You can still fight the Rehoboth Beach waste water outfall project. Surfrider foundation has put out a call to action which is below, explaining how you can still fight this outfall. On a side note, when I fought the seismic testing, a few of the groups involved with that said they were all for the outfall since Delaware was a water rich state. New Castle county is in drought conditions right now and has been asked to curb their water use by DNREC. Think about that, take all the time you need. If we are a water rich state, then why is New Castle County having water issues, and being asked to conserve more water. Meanwhile about eighty miles south, Rehoboth wants to pump its water into the ocean. We need to do land application, ultimately with cleaner water. The infrastructure is there, and will be less of an impact. It could have already been done by now and the outfall would already be out of the Lewes canal.
Call to Action by the Surfrider Foundation …
1) Call Governor-elect John Carney. This pipe would be built on his watch so he now has a voice in this fight. He is still a sitting Congressman so reach him at this Congressional offices in Georgetown 320-854-0667. Or in his Wilmington Office 302-691-7333. See Talking Points below first.
2) Send the Governor-elect a message –through his transition website transition.delaware.gov – scroll to the bottom to send comments.
3)Email the Governor-elect after you call him –There is a Surfrider Foundation Action Alert here Note this is only open to residents of DE, MD, VA, NJ, and DC.
4) Send your written comments against the state permits. These comments can be slightly different from the concerns you express to Carney. They need to focus more on the permits. Additional Talking points below too. Send those comments to Rehoboth_Wastewater_Comments@state.de.us by December 2, 2016.
I. When calling John Carney –
Talk about tourism – Tourism is a multi billion-dollar industry in DE. We can’t afford the to have tourism impacted by an outfall pipe. Even the perception of pollution is enough to impact tourism.
The other outfall pipes in the area were conceived in the 1960’s. Why are we using 1960’s technology in 2016?
The search for land appropriate for land application that was documented in the Environmental Impact Statement, EIS, was inadequate. It happened 14 years ago and since then utilities have said they want this water and have obtained the permits to apply this water on land.
The Farm Bureau has testified that farmers need and want this water. Why are we wasting it and sending it into the ocean?
The EIS does not treat endangered species and Marine Mammals correctly. It concludes that these species are mobile so they will just swim away. This is harassment under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Furthermore, Sturgeon are an endangered fish who live an breed in this area. Assuming they will simply swim away does not follow the law.
II. For your Written Comments Against the State Permits – send to Rehoboth_Wastewater_Comments@state.de.us
The Final Environmental Impact Statement, FEIS, didn’t discuss regulatory laws as required by the National Environmental Policy Act, NEPA. For example the Endangered Species Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act and others. The FEIS is supposed to discuss the project’s alignment with these laws and the possible conflicts between the laws, policies and the project.
For example, in the case of the Endangered Species Act, the FEIS merely lists the species that are threatened or endangered in Delaware. There is no discussion of the law and the impact of the project. This applies to the newly listed Atlantic Sturgeon and all listed species. The public cannot properly comment on these permits because they are not armed with the proper information in the EIS.
The Marine Mammal Protection Act defines a Level B Harassment as any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering but which does not have the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild.
But The conclusions by DNREC, that both fish species and marine mammals will move away from the outfall diffuser conflicts with these federal regulations. And these federal laws should have been discussed thoroughly in the FEIS but were not. The public cannot properly comment on these permits without the proper information in the EIS.
The Delaware State Statues (laws) cited below are further evidence that the proposed outfall pipe is in conflict with state policies and regulations. None of this was discussed in the FEIS, which makes it impossible for the public to comment on these permits. Please cite one of these laws below as evidence that this project is not consistent with Delaware laws.
Delaware Policies and Regulatory conflicts
18.104.22.168 – The coastal water resources of the state shall be protected and conserved to assure continued availability for public recreational purposes and for the conservation of aquatic life and wildlife. [7Del.C. §6001(a)(4)] Construction and operation of the project violates this policy because of the discharges of treated wastewater, which doesn’t fully eliminate certain contaminants like pharmaceuticals, and because of the risk of future violations and untreated sewage discharges.
22.214.171.124 – It is the policy of the DNREC to maintain within its jurisdiction surface waters of the State of satisfactory quality consistent with public health and public recreation purposes, the propagation and protection of fish and aquatic life, and other beneficial uses of the water
126.96.36.199 – (Passed in 2004) Regulatory mixing zones shall not impinge upon areas of special importance, including but not limited to drinking water supply intakes, nursery areas for aquatic life or waterfowl, approved or conditional shellfish areas or heavily utilized primary contact recreation areas. Zones shall not be located in such a manner as to interfere with passage of fishes or other organisms. Shore hugging plumes should be avoided to the maximum extent practicable. In areas where multiple discharges are located in proximity, overlapping discharge plumes may occur. In such instances, the thermal mixing zone, which is not to exceed 25% of the cross-sectional area of the receiving water as measured from the point of discharge to the opposite shore, may be reduced to preclude acute toxicity in the overlap areas, or to ensure an adequate zone of passage for fish. (This state law protects and defines Delaware’s responsibility under the applicable ESA & MMPA).
188.8.131.52 – Rare and endangered species are in need of active, protective management to preserve and enhance such species. The diversity and abundance of the native flora and fauna of 1Delaware, particularly those deemed rare or endangered, shall be preserved and enhanced through the protection of the habitat, natural areas, and areas of unusual scientific significance or having unusual importance to their survival. [7 Del.C. §201(1)(2)] This law assists protection of the Atlantic Sturgeon in Delaware waters.