Rehoboth wants to upgrade wastewater treatment plant

Rehoboth looks to upgrade treatment plant

By Ryan Mavity | Apr 13, 2012
Cape Gazette
Photo by: Ryan Mavity In addition to its proposed ocean outfall, Rehoboth Beach officials are also proposing to upgrade the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

Rehoboth Beach — In addition to its proposed ocean outfall, Rehoboth Beach officials are also proposing to upgrade the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

Mayor Sam Cooper said the biggest change would be in the treatment and disposal of the city’s biosolids, or sludge.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, sludge is the nutrient-rich organic material that is created after the treatment of wastewater. When treated and processed, which the Rehoboth plant does, sludge can be safely applied as fertilizer on farmland.

Currently, the city’s sludge is Class B sludge, which requires a permit to dispose of on land. Cooper said at an April 9 commissioners meeting that operators at the plant want the city to move to a dried Class A sludge, which has the water removed and is much safer to apply to land.

The city transports its sludge to a farm in the Milton area.

“Class B, we have to permit the field we put it on. So, if for some reason that field becomes unusable or whatever, then we are scrambling to permit another area. Wherever you try to go, you’re going to get a NIMBY, not in my backyard,” Cooper said. “Class A does not require a permit; I can give it to you, sell it, put it on my garden. That’s a huge difference going forward.”

For the outfall, the major change would be a new pumping station and force main that would pump the treated effluent to the ocean. Cooper said there would also be some minor changes that would make the plant easier to operate.

Cooper said of the $32 million requested from the state for the outfall, around $7 million is for upgrades to the plant. He said if the city changes its treatment of biosolids, the cost of the upgrades would increase.

The plant’s last upgrade was in 2002.

“The plant will be 25 years old in November. Let’s get it in first-class condition for the next 20 years,” Cooper said. “We need to get in front of the curve.”

Bob Stenger, manager of the wastewater treatment plant, said, “Everything ages and wears out. I see this as a rehab to get things up to date. Other than the biosolids, we’re really not doing much different to the operations.”