Plan to Connect Donovan Smith Manufactured Home Community Gets Important Conditional Approval

Donovan Smith was required to cordon off areas where wastewater surfacing has occurred and pump the sewage to mitigate further wastewater surfacing and groundwater pollution within the manufactured home community.


The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced today plans to connect the Donovan Smith Manufactured Home Community to the Lewes Board of Public Works sewer system are proceeding following issuance of a conditional letter of approval of the state-funded loan mechanism that will provide financing for the connection.

The community owner’s lender had to sign off on the financing arrangement in order for the state-funded loan for the connection to proceed, and a conditional approval has been secured by the owner, DNREC confirmed Monday, following months of negotiation.

Donovan Smith was chosen as a pilot project for Delaware’s Clean Water Initiative for Underserved Communities – with DNREC, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, and the Delaware State Housing Authority partnering at Governor John Carney’s behest to develop a priority list for underserved communities in the state that have longtime water and wastewater issues. The combination of DNREC enforcement of wastewater regulations and financial help for Donovan Smith aims to end water pollution at the site by moving the community from septic systems to the Lewes central sewer system. The Clean Water Initiative will use the approach being piloted with Donovan Smith to institute water and wastewater improvements in other similar communities.

“There are a number of manufactured home communities in our state — especially downstate — with longtime septic issues where putting the cost of a sewer connection on the residents would be a tremendous financial burden. Finding a way to mandate the sewer connection without burdening the residents or possibly bankrupting the park — and leaving the residents without anywhere to live — is the tightrope we must walk, and which the state financing supported by Gov. Carney is making possible,” DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin said. “We are working to make a difference in the lives of these residents and in the environment, one step at a time.”

DNREC also announced it has issued a second Notice of Violation to Donovan Smith Mobile Home Park (MPH), LLC following an initial NOV issued in July. The second NOV was issued Sept. 13 after a compliance inspection and two environmental complaint investigations found multiple additional violations associated with several small onsite wastewater treatment and disposal systems within the community that were not previously addressed in the July NOV. One of the violations was a collapsing septic tank with wastewater overflowing and ponding on the grounds – with no barrier or fencing preventing human or pet contact with untreated wastewater, a significant public health hazard.

The first NOV documented the Donovan Smith MHP’s ongoing noncompliance and established deadlines for Donovan Smith to correct the problem and move forward on the sewer connection with financing from the Clean Water Initiative. According to the latest enforcement notice, although DNREC received updates from Donovan Smith concerning interim corrective actions taken, initiation of the required system pump-outs and submission of a corrective action plan did not occur within the timeframes established in the July NOV.

This second NOV cites Donovan Smith MHP for these delays, as well as additional violations that have occurred since July. And although Donovan Smith has since initiated system pump-outs and submitted a preliminary corrective action plan, this second NOV requires additional interim corrective actions. The DNREC enforcement measure also calls for amendments to the corrective action plan to address additional violations, monthly communication with the community residents on the status of corrective actions, and more rigorous inspection and reporting to mitigate additional environmental and public health concerns until the sewer connection is achieved.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Water manages and protects Delaware’s water resources. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Nikki Lavoie,; Michael Globetti,