Outcry Over the Outfall
As Rehoboth Beach awaits state approval of its wastewater disposal plan, criticism grows over the controversial proposed pipeline into the ocean
It has been nearly two years since the completion of an environmental impact statement on the best way for the City of Rehoboth Beach to dispose of its treated wastewater.
The city has waited all that time for an OK from the state to proceed with the statement’s recommendation — that the effluent be piped a mile offshore and released into the Atlantic Ocean.
As it has waited — and as treated wastewater has continued to flow into the impaired inland bays watershed at the rate of more than 2 million gallons per day during the summer months — opposition to the outfall recommendation has increased.
“We all know that putting that waste into the inland bays is pollution,” says John Doerfler, vice chairman of the Delaware chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, an international group dedicated to the protection of ocean beaches. “So if it’s pollution in the inland bays, why isn’t it pollution when you put it in the ocean? No matter what, you’re still polluting the waterways.”
The local Surfrider chapter is “very much against” the outfall. But it isn’t arguing that the current situation — in which treated wastewater is pumped into the Lewes-and-Rehoboth Canal, where it makes its way into the Rehoboth Bay a few hundred yards away — should continue. Rather, it says that spraying the waste on farmland, an option that was rejected by the environmental impact statement as being too expensive, should be given a closer look.
The coastal real estate market continues to rebound with higher prices and quicker sales as sellers meet the demands of exacting buyers
From the October 2014 issue
When Tony and Maggi Gizzi decided to downsize from a 19-room home in Riverton, N.J., they looked at homes in Delaware, from Wilmington south to Middletown and Bear. “We couldn’t find anything we liked,” Tony recalls. That changed when the musician with the Shrewsbury String Quartet performed at a Delaware beach wedding in September 2013.
He returned with Maggi and, together with Kathy Sperl-Bell of Active Adult Realty in Lewes, they toured existing homes and new developments. They settled this year on a new house in Bay Crossing, a Lewes-area community for residents 55 and older. “We feel like we died and went to heaven,” Tony says.
Happy buyers like the Gizzis are one reason coastal real estate agents feel good about the local housing climate. “The market is stable and certainly moving in the stronger direction,” says Lee Ann Wilkinson, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Gallo Realty near Lewes. “I’m very optimistic,” says Wilkinson, who’s been selling homes for more than 30 years.
So is industry veteran Ann Raskauskas of Bethany Area Realty. “A lot of good things are on the horizon on every end, from the $200,000s up to $7 million; we haven’t seen that in a while.” Ocean Atlantic Sotheby’s International Realty, which has offices in Lewes, Rehoboth and Bethany Beach, is on track to slightly exceed last year’s transactions, says co-owner Justin Healy.
But technology and lingering effects from the recession have altered attitudes on both sides of the equation, leading to a new post-housing-crash mindset for buyers, sellers and agents.
The Trickle-Down Effect
Small streams and creeks, part of a vast tributary system, play a big part in an estuary's health
Miles from Delaware’s coast, in the heart of Sussex County, water from the Morris Millpond joins with the Stockley Branch to form Cow Bridge Branch. That stream flows southeast about 2 miles before it runs into Millsboro Pond, which ultimately spills into the Indian River, the largest tributary of Delaware’s inland bays system.
Cow Bridge Branch, and the meadows, wetlands and forests through which it flows, form “one of the last relatively [unaffected] watersheds of the inland bays,” says Bart Wilson, science coordinator with the Center for the Inland Bays. On the grounds of the state-owned Stockley Center (which serves people with developmental disabilities), the creek meanders through an old-growth floodplain that a 2008 article in Outdoor Delaware described as an “intact, high-quality, functioning ecosystem, something that is very hard to find these days.”
Cow Bridge Branch is just one of dozens of tributaries that feed the inland bays. The network of branches, streams, creeks, ditches, canals, prongs and guts supplies nearly half of the freshwater that mixes with saltwater from the ocean to form the bays. (The remaining freshwater is groundwater that has seeped into the earth and over a period of decades gradually makes its way into the bays.)