Rehoboth Beach, Sussex Co. Negotiate On Ocean Outfall Agreement

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Sussex County is proposing to purchase a portion of Rehoboth Beach’s excess ocean outfall capacity for treated wastewater.

The Rehoboth Beach Commissioners discussed the proposal at a special meeting Thursday. Under the proposal, the county would directly connect the county treatment facility to the ocean outfall pipe. The county would make a one-time payment of $7.6-million, which would be used to minimize future wastewater rate increases. Ratepayers faced a significant increase last year to pay for improvements to the city’s wastewater treatment facility, and rates are set to go up another 60-percent in 2024.

“The city’s priorities are to protect our greatest natural resources – our beautiful beach and the Atlantic Ocean – and to provide services to our residents in a fiscally responsible manner,” Rehoboth Beach Mayor Stan Mills said previously. “It appears that the county’s proposal will not impact the quality of water being released into the ocean and that this partnership would bring a good deal of financial benefit to our wastewater customers.”

According to Rehoboth Beach officials:

Under the city’s current DNREC permit, which is scheduled to be renewed in the spring, the waste load for biological oxygen demand (BOD5) and total suspended solids (TSS) is 425 pounds/day each (at an average permitted concentration of 15 milligrams per liter) with a maximum of 625 pounds (and a 23 mg/L concentration) on any given day. The city’s daily average is under 50 pounds. The county has proposed to purchase 40%, or 170 pounds, of the city’s permitted waste load allocation. With the county’s participation, the average outfall waste load is expected to remain below 250 pounds/day.

Under a renewable 25-year agreement between Rehoboth Beach and Sussex County that was approved in 2017, the county utilizes 42% of the city’s wastewater treatment facility and to cover an equal portion of capital improvement costs at the facility.

Rehoboth Beach officials also say:

The county has expressed interest in coming to an agreement about shared outfall capacity within the next few months, but the agreement would not be implemented until 4-5 years in the future, while the county seeks the necessary permits and constructs a pipeline.

The Rehoboth Commissioners will resume discussion on the matter during a work session Monday.

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