Rehoboth urged to recycle water for farming

A leading provider of water, wastewater and engineering services on the Delmarva Peninsula, urges the City of Rehoboth Beach to practice some better habits for agricultural purposes.

In order to do so, Artesian is asking the city of Rehoboth to reuse treated water for agricultural purposes rather than pump renewable water directly into the Atlantic Ocean.  The goal is to create a water recycling partnership between Rehoboth Beach, Artesian and nearby farmers since it’s a more environmentally friendly method for the city to manage its wastewater.  According to Artesian Senior Vice President John Thaeder, the new pratice can save taxpayers $6 million over an ocean outfall solution.

“Using reclaimed water to irrigate farmland allows the agricultural community to benefit from the resource instead of removing more water from our groundwater supply and thus becomes a win-win situation for the City and the farmers,” said Thaeder at Tuesday’s hearing on the environmental impacts of Rehoboth’s ocean outfall plan. “DNREC (Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control) now considers spray irrigation to be their preferred method of wastewater management, and it is used in all three counties of Delaware.”

Officials point to an example of a similar water recycling partnership, which Artesian engineered in Middletown, Delaware, in 2010, which saves up to 2.5 million gallons of water per day and enables farmers to spray irrigate crops with reclaimed water instead of using pumped ground water.

However, Rehoboth considered and dismissed the use of spray irrigation after their consulting engineering firm claimed that land would not be available for the system and that it would be too costly for residents. But Thaeder said that Rehoboth’s information was inaccurate.

“Sussex County has thousands of acres in agricultural use between Rehoboth and Georgetown that are commercially farmed,” said Thaeder. “In fact, the area between Rehoboth and Milton, within a half mile of the proposed pipeline, has more than 4,000 acres of active farm land, and the flow from Rehoboth’s plant could help irrigate up to 2,000 acres of that land.”

Reports indicate Artesian’s spray irrigation system is $6 million less than other costs to build a pipeline to discharge wastewater.

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