The City of Rehoboth Beach is a couple of months into construction of a pipeline that will discharge city and Sussex County treated wastewater into the ocean.
Contractors are drilling underground through Deauville Beach 6,000 ft. east into the ocean where the pipe will discharge treated wastewater.
Crews are also setting some piping for the outfall down on the ocean floor. Delaware Public Media met with the city and GHD outside of the construction site on Henlopen Ave., but was not allowed on site due to safety concerns.
People who drive on Henlopen Ave. will likely hear the sound of a generator. But Sam Jung with GHD, Rehoboth’s engineer for the project, says while Rehoboth residents will hear some noise now, once the project is completed, they won’t see anything.
“Starting at the treatment plant, everything follows the shoulder of the road and it’s buried all the way through down the center of the road and down to the beach, goes right under parking lot, and under the ocean — comes up about 6,000 ft. away. But at 6,000 ft. away it’s still on the ocean floor,” Jung said.
The project also includes upgrades to the city’s treatment plant and a pipe that will carry water 12,000 ft. from the plant to Deauville Beach.
At the end of the pipeline 6,000 ft. east of Deauville, it will connect to a diffuser that will discharge the treated wastewater into the ocean.
Rehoboth spokeswoman Krys Johnson said all of the permits have been cleared for the project, including a construction permit, a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, a permit from the Delaware Department of Transportation and one from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The city voted last week to change two components of the outfall project that involve the Army Corps of Engineers permit. The first change order was for cement mattresses replacing a rock bed that was originally part of the project. The cost of the change is $1.3 million.
The city also voted to allocate $600,000 for different housing around the diffuser that will discharge the treated effluent. The changes allow the city to save $2 million, said Rehoboth City Commissioner Kathy McGuiness in a text message.
Although the changes save Rehoboth $2 million, they aren’t welcome by everyone. Gregg Rosner, the conservation chair for the Delaware chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, said he believes the changes cut corners to save money.
“It’s a completely different project. It wouldn’t be as stable as the foundation for the pipe,” Rosner said, on the cement mattresses.
The Army Corps of Engineers said these changes to the project and the permit are allowed because they're not considered significant. Michael Yost is a project manager and biologist for the corps.
“It still serves the same intent, the same purpose,” Yost said. “The change is simply a method in how the pipe is anchored.”
Work is on schedule to be completed by 2018, Jung with GHD said.