Sussex County Proposes Rehoboth Beach Transfer Operations of its Wastewater Treatment Facility

Sussex County Proposes Rehoboth Beach Transfer Operations of its Wastewater Treatment Facility

(REHOBOTH BEACH, Del.) - The Ocean Outfall project has been complete in Rehoboth Beach since July but the city is still financing all of the costs.

Mayor Kuhns says the city has been considering how much rates would go up over time to fund that project, support sewer improvements, and update the wastewater treatment plant. "The county has come back with a proposal to do a transition of the wastewater treatment facility and all of its assets," Kuhns says.

The full capacity of the plant is not currently being used. This transition would fix that and add engineering resources. Kuhns explains, "There may be a better service because the county has a much larger staff. They have much better equipment. We've put in a lot of new technology at the plant and the county already has engineers that are very familiar with this technology."

Residents currently pay on average $581 per year for their wastewater service. A consultant for the city, estimates rates will increase to $934 to support $45 million in construction and improvements if the city continues to operate the facility. If the county takes over operations, rates would only increase to average at $687 in 2020 and $709 by 2023. This would help offset $18.4 million in upgrades.

Citizens are strongly opposed to any price increase. "We've been fighting this outfall pipe. We had all the math, we had all the logic ready to go 4 or 5 years ago. Everything we said would come true has all come to fruition. Everything is higher. The wastewater plant isn't up to standards like it should be," says John Doerfler of Milton.

Rich King, who owns Delaware Surf Fishing is concerned for the way in which the water is being treated. "They want us to pay for it. We didn't get to vote on it. There are also things that go into the water that they don't get out, like pharmaceuticals. We pull water out of the ground, we treat it, and then we throw it away. Why are we not cleaning it again?"

Commissioners need to further discuss the proposal and consider the citizens' comments before they can make a decision. If they approve the proposal, the county will assume all municipal sewer-related assets, liabilities, and obligations after the district expands.