Last month the City of Rehoboth Beach installed a pair of fountains, or mini-geysers, in Silver Lake on either side of the bridge.
Their primary function is decorative, says Kevin Williams, public works director. “But they also provide some limited water quality help for the lake with the aeration in the immediate vicinity of the fountains,” he pointed out. He said the total cost to the city was about $30,000 and the city did obtain a permit from DNREC for the project.
“Not only do we think it is a nice year-round welcome to Rehoboth as you enter from the south,” Williams said, “we also wanted to upgrade our holiday decorations there and provide a much safer alternative to our old lighted trees we would place near the bridge each year.”
He says the new electrical configuration is better and safer than what the city had used in previous years. Workers also do not need to paddle out into the lake each fall to place them. The fountain light colors can be changed for any appropriate occasion from the panel adjacent to the bridge. The city selected red, white and blue for Independence Day, for example.
The fountains have been getting mixed reviews on the Nextdoor social media site. “Love them best thing ever to keep circulation and avoid stagnation and bugs,” writes Dan Voeltner. “They are lovely as you walk across the bridge. Better yet, if they have a practical purpose. Wonderful addition,” Carol Tello added.
But not everybody is thrilled with the new fountains. “I live on another part of the lake, and I would not like to look at them every day. [It] takes away from the naturalness of the lake,” Kathy Connelly wrote. Former commissioner candidate Mark Betchkal said he was “Not a fan” of the fountains and added he considers them a “poor choice if the intention was to aerate the lake.”
Several property owners had contacted Save Our Lakes Alliance 3 (SOLA3) to express their concerns, assuming that SOLA3 had been involved with the project. SOLA3 is the organization which helps educate, research and promotes policies to protect, preserve and maintain Silver Lake, Lake Gerar and Lake Comegys. Sallie Forman, founder & president of SOLA3, said the board had no idea about the project until it had been completed.
The SOLA3 board has issued these comments stating that the fountains do little to improve water quality at Silver Lake, that the $30,000 spent on the fountains could have been better spent on other projects to improve the lake’s water quality and that using solar power should have been a preferred choice over electric power as it’s better for the environment and results in cost savings.
Tom Childers, who owns a home in the second block of Lake Drive, says he has been in touch with two of his neighbors who are also the residents closest to the fountain on the east side of the bridge. Among their biggest concerns is the spray from the fountains. “It dampens our docks if there is any wind from the south, and curtails our use of the docks. Not fair,” he said. “On top of that, the water being sprayed is notoriously not healthful,” he added, noting that it is generally taken as “good sense” not to swim in Silver Lake or eat its fish.
Childers also noted that the fountain spray has landed on the surface of the bridge and that could pose a hazard if the fountains operate in freezing weather. Other neighbors, he says, complain that the fountain noise is intrusive and at least two of the three residents see no virtue in the fountains if they are not fulfilling a useful function for the lake. “Their aesthetics are negligible, at best,” he said.
“I wonder why there was no attempt to contact responsible, potentially impacted property owners before the install order was placed,” he added.
“Not to discount what anyone has to say, the fountains were placed there in good faith and there are many positive comments received,” says Sharon Lynn, Rehoboth Beach city manager.