Wastewater pipeline work begins off Delaware beach [photos]

    After years of dumping waste into the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal, the project to shift the discharge off Rehoboth Beach into the Atlantic Ocean has begun.

    More than a year after the City of Rehoboth Beach was approved for the outfall project, survey work has started and will continue through this week.

    A drilling platform can be seen from the shoreline and according to the city manager’s website GHD engineers have subcontracted with a specialty firm, “They are in a boat conducting marine surveys and taking core samples from the ocean bottom at depths of approximately 15 feet.”

    According to the city, the pipe will be 24 inches in diameter and disposing of the waste 6,000 feet offshore in water approximately 40 feet deep.

    After more than a decade of research into the best option for the waste disposal, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control decided the outfall was the most responsible alternative. In January 2015, Secretary David Small signed a Record of Decision to execute the pipeline plan.

    Small said in a statement, at the time, “Delaware’s Inland Bays are incredible ecological and recreational assets that have suffered for generations from too many nutrients. This decision will help complete our goal of systematically eliminating all wastewater treatment plant discharges to these special waterways.”

    There was backlash from Delaware chapters of environmental groups including the Surfrider Foundation, the Sierra Club and National Audubon Society, but in order to comply with the consent order from the Dept. of Natural Resources the City of Rehoboth Beach is implementing the ocean outfall.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.