DNREC Names Two to Leadership Roles

DNREC Division of Water Director Steven Smailer.

 

 

New Director for The Division of Water, Chief of Staff Within DNREC’s Office of The Secretary

Secretary Shawn M. Garvin announced changes today to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s leadership structure, selecting Steven Smailer as new director of DNREC’s Division of Water and naming Kim Siegel as chief of staff within DNREC’s Office of the Secretary.

Smailer succeeds environmental scientist and wetland and stream restoration expert Virgil Holmes, who retired from DNREC after two stints with the Department totaling 15 years, including the last seven years leading the Division of Water. Smailer, a hydrogeologist, worked as an environmental program administrator in the division. He originally came into the Department and the then-Division of Water Resources in the early 1990s, then worked as a hydrogeologist for an extended period in the private sector, before returning to DNREC in 2015 as manager of the Division of Water’s Wetlands and Subaqueous Lands Section.

“Steve’s breadth of knowledge covering water resources top to bottom is unmatched,” said Secretary Garvin. “He has long been seen by peers as having a ‘most versatile player’ role for overseeing many aspects of Delaware’s most precious natural resource, our water. As the Department begins to implement Governor Carney’s Clean Water for Delaware Initiative, there couldn’t be a better choice to lead our Division of Water.”

Smailer is a Delaware-licensed professional geologist, Secretary of the Delaware Board of Geologists, a Groundwater Protection Council National Board Member, and has served as the chair of the State’s Water Supply Coordinating Council since 2017.
He is a Pennsylvania State University graduate with degrees in Earth Science/Geology and Marine Science. Smailer lives in Rehoboth Beach with his wife Laurie and their three children.

DNREC Chief of Staff Kim Siegel.
DNREC Chief of Staff Kim Siegel.

As chief of staff, Ms. Siegel succeeds Gregory Patterson who earlier this year moved to the Office of the Governor as the state’s infrastructure implementation coordinator to manage funding received by the State of Delaware through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“We’re excited to add Kim to the team whose knowledge of the legislative process and public policy experience will help us tackle Delaware’s environmental priorities across a range of issues, including air quality, clean water, climate change, wildlife protections and more,” said Secretary Garvin.

Siegel arrives at DNREC with 20 years of experience in state government and nonprofits. She most recently was the assistant director of government relations and advocacy at Mental Health Partnerships in Philadelphia, overseeing workforce development and individual advocacy programs and monitoring state legislative activity.

Prior to that, she was the FOIA coordinator and legislative affairs manager at the Delaware Department of Justice and the research director to then-Lt. Gov. Matt Denn.

Until 2014, Siegel served in several roles at Autism Delaware where she led a successful campaign to get insurance coverage for autism therapies and launched the Walk for Autism in Bellevue and Cape Henlopen State Parks. She has also worked for NAMI Delaware and was a legislative fellow in the General Assembly.

Siegel received her Master of Public Administration and Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Delaware with a service term in the AmeriCorps program Public Allies between them. She currently resides in the city of Wilmington.

About DNREC
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 contact: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov or Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov

###


Governor Carney Announces Five-Year Effort to Improve Water and Wastewater Systems, Protects Residents

NEWARK, Del. – Governor John Carney announced Wednesday that state agencies will begin accepting applications to loan or grant money for drinking water and wastewater system improvements around the state, with capacity for historic levels of investment in water infrastructure from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the state Clean Water Trust, created in 2021.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law — championed by U.S. Senator Tom Carper, U.S. Senator Chris Coons, and U.S. Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester and signed by President Biden in November 2021 — is a once-in-a-generation commitment to improving roads, bridges, transit, water and wastewater systems, broadband, energy and other infrastructure areas.

Cities, towns, counties, water companies and communities are eligible to apply for the increased and more flexible funding coming from the federal government to the existing Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) administered by the state Division of Public Health and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF, which focuses on wastewater and stormwater projects) administered by the state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. As directed by Congress, these existing processes will manage requests and inquiries related to this funding. The joint DWSRF/CWSRF workshop to begin the 2022 application process takes place Thursday, March 24 at 10 a.m. and pre-registration is open.

On Wednesday, Governor Carney toured a City of Newark water facility that used funding from the state Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to construct a 250,000-gallon storage tank, install a contaminant removal system, and complete plant building upgrades that will allow for additional treatment if needed in the future.

Click here to view photos from the tour.

“Delawareans deserve clean water. It’s as simple as that,” said Governor Carney. “Access to clean and safe water should be a promise we make to our residents, and we need to protect this resource for future generations. The combination of the Clean Water Trust – led by Representative Longhurst and Senator Townsend – and the new federal funding led by Senators Carper, Coons and Congresswoman Blunt Rochester, will help us deliver on the promise of clean water for all Delawareans.”

With Delaware’s $315 million for clean water and drinking water from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, more money will be available for the next five years for the types of water and wastewater projects traditionally financed by the funds, and with dedicated funding for disadvantaged communities, to address emerging contaminants such as PFAS, and to find and replace remove lead water lines or water line components. Delaware water systems are not known to have many lead water lines, but the funding can be used for a federally required inventory of systems for any lead lines and components that must be completed by October 2024, as well as for any needed replacements.

In the 2022 round of annual loans and grants, Delaware communities will have access to:

  • $29 million for the general Drinking Water fund projects, such as source water protection, treatment, storage, distribution, cybersecurity and sustainable energy projects, which is almost three times as much as usual
  • $16.5 million for the general Clean Water fund projects, such as wastewater treatment plant upgrades, septic elimination projects, and sewer interceptor rehabilitations, which is about twice as much as usual
  • $28 million specifically for lead service drinking water line identification and, if needed, replacement, which is new dedicated funding
  • $8 million for projects to address PFAS or other emerging contaminants in drinking water or wastewater systems, which is also new dedicated funding

Of the traditional project lines and the lead pipe replacement lines, 49 percent of the fund must be provided as forgivable loans or grants to communities that qualify as disadvantaged. The definition of disadvantaged varies by programs but can be updated by the state programs this year to expand the potential access. The emerging contaminant funds also have requirements for spending in disadvantaged communities.

“Clean water is critical to everything we do – from our health to our environment and to our economy – access to safe and clean water is a basic necessity,” said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long, Ph.D., R.N. “Thanks to President Biden and our Congressional Delegation, these critical infrastructure funds along with the Clean Water Trust Fund will help ensure clean water for all Delaware communities, particularly the underserved. Protecting our water quality is the foundation of a stronger and healthier Delaware.”

“Planning for the future is a key strategy in responding to emerging contaminants,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “DPH is thankful and pleased to support Newark and other municipalities and communities in providing clean water to residents. The infrastructure investments being made now, and that will be possible with the funds coming to Delaware, will substantially expand DPH’s reach to ensure all Delawareans have access to safe drinking water.”

“With this historic investment, we will be able to advance our goal of clean water for all Delawareans,” said Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “Even so, addressing the water challenges of our state will not happen overnight. We have a lot of work to do – work we’ll do together – to support water quality improvement projects in communities across Delaware, particularly our overburdened and underserved communities.”

The federal funding will work in conjunction with the state’s Clean Water Trust, created in 2021 to plan and deploy water investments from multiple funding sources. Because of the five-year increase in infrastructure funding from the federal government, the state water loan programs are urging potential applicants to consider the next several years of improvements, and to potentially apply for planning grants this year that could turn into infrastructure projects that need to be funded in future years.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s provisions include the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act that Senator Carper authored in the Environment and Public Works Committee in the U.S. Senate. Specifically, the law will provide states with increased State Revolving Loan funding and program flexibilities that allow them to invest in community water projects to address aging infrastructure and improve water quality.

“Up and down the state and across the country, we’ve seen the dire consequences when our water infrastructure fails. That’s why we made unprecedented investments in our nation’s water infrastructure through the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said Senator Carper. “I am proud that our committee’s work led to this announcement today and that we are now one step closer to ensuring that all Delawareans – and all Americans — have clean and safe drinking water and wastewater.”

“Access to clean drinking water is a fundamental human right,” said Senator Coons. “The bipartisan infrastructure framework that President Biden signed into law is a blue-collar blueprint for our country to deliver historic investments, including upgrades to our water systems so that every Delawarean can enjoy that right. Thanks to Governor Carney and my colleagues in the congressional delegation, and we’re one step closer to all Delawareans having access to the clean drinking water they deserve.”

“Access to clean, safe, and reliable drinking water has been a mounting crisis in our country including in communities right here in Delaware, and ensuring access is critically important for improving not only Delawareans’ quality of life but our overall public health,” said Congresswoman Blunt Rochester. “That’s why I was proud to vote for President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that brings the largest investment in drinking water and wastewater in American history, and I commend Governor Carney for utilizing this funding, compiled with the Clean Water Trust, to ensure Delawareans have access to clean water across the state.”

For more information on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, visit: de.gov/infrastructure

###


Delaware to Solicit Water Quality Improvement Projects With Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funding

Virtual Public Workshop Scheduled on March 24

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, in conjunction with the Division of Public Health, will begin soliciting for new water quality improvement projects March 24 as DNREC and DPH start to develop 2022 Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and Drinking Water State Revolving (DWSRF) project priority lists. Projects must be listed on the CWSRF and DWSRF project priority lists to be considered for funding – this year, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding for clean water and drinking water projects will be provided through the existing State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs.

Notices of Intent (NOI) for SRF wastewater, drinking water, stormwater, and related infrastructure projects must be received by DNREC Environmental Finance by close of business at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, April 25.

DNREC will hold a State Revolving Loan Fund virtual public workshop at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 24 offering a detailed overview of the CWSRF and DWSRF programs. Attendees will get guidance on requesting financial assistance for wastewater and drinking water infrastructure project needs. Pre-registration for the virtual workshop is required.

Workshop attendees also will learn how SRF programs administered by DNREC Environmental Finance can provide a wide range of financial assistance, including:

  • A one-stop loan application process for wastewater and drinking water infrastructure project assistance, including new funding available under the B
  • New under BIL – supplemental funding available to address emerging contaminants and lead service line replacement
  • New under BIL – additional subsidies to disadvantaged communities for water infrastructure projects
  •  

The workshop also will cover information about planning tools to assist SRF applicants

  • Wastewater, drinking water, and surface water matching planning grants
  • Asset management planning grants
  • Project planning advances
  • Planning and design loans

Additionally, the workshop will offer guidance on how and when to submit projects for funding consideration; project ranking criteria; project construction requirements, and how to apply for infrastructure planning grants. Information on the loan and grant programs and applications can be found at de.gov/envfinance.

Applications for wastewater, drinking water, surface water matching planning grants are also due by DNREC close of business at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, April 25.

About DNREC
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 Environmental Finance team administers Delaware’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund, making funding available to municipalities, the private sector, nonprofit organizations and individuals. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media contacts: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov or Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov.


Public Input Sought on Water Trust Priorities and Projects

Strategic Plan Comments Sought in Jan. 25, Feb. 2 and Feb. 10 Virtual Meetings

The Delaware Clean Water Trust Oversight Committee will host three virtual public information sessions to hear from Delaware residents and businesses about how the trust should support water quality improvements with historic dedicated funding through the Delaware Clean Water Act, signed into law last fall by Governor John Carney.

The Clean Water Trust input and information sessions are set for 9 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 25; 1 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 2; and 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 10. More information about the Clean Water Trust sessions can be found on the DNREC online calendar, de.gov/dnrecmeetings.

The Delaware Clean Water Trust oversees $50 million in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget as a funding source for water quality and water-related projects. The trust’s strategic plan will be the major topic of discussion at the virtual public meetings, as DNREC and the trust oversight committee seek input on the strategic plan through public comment. The committee was created by the Clean Water for Delaware Act to advise the Governor and the General Assembly, provide oversight of the Clean Water Trust account, and publish an annual report and strategic plan for clean water.

A draft of a strategic plan framework is available at de.gov/cwi and will be presented at the meetings, but only as a starting point for public discussion. Public input and ideas are needed and encouraged to form the basis of the plan for Trust spending.

Clean Water Trust funding will touch almost every aspect of water quality improvement and water-related projects in the state, including: infrastructure for drinking water, stormwater and wastewater; drainage programs; waterway management and beach preservation, and many other projects funded by state and federal resources such as the conservation reserve enhancement program, conservation cost-sharing and tax ditches.

The Clean Water Trust also works with Governor Carney’s Clean Water Initiative for Underserved Communities that is a major component of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s environmental justice work with the state’s low-income, disadvantaged and underserved communities.

About DNREC
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 Environmental Finance team administers Delaware’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund, making funding available to municipalities, the private sector, nonprofit organizations and individuals. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media contact: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov or Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov


Agreement Signed by DNREC, DHSS to Connect Donovan Smith Community to Public Sewer and Water

$5.6 Million in Funding to Lewes BPW for Pilot Project of State’s Clean Water Initiative for Underserved Communities

Delaware state agencies today officially moved to connect the Donovan Smith community in Lewes to municipal water and sewer, which is the pilot project of the Clean Water Initiative for Underserved Communities established by Gov. John Carney.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed today by the secretaries of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) and the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) to authorize a $2.74 million loan to the Lewes Board of Public Works (Lewes BPW) for connecting the Donovan Smith manufactured home community into Lewes’ central sewer system, and a $2.87 million loan to Lewes BPW for connecting the community to the Lewes municipal water system.

The projects will be funded by loans from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). Under the terms of the MOU, once construction is complete, the loans will be forgiven. While the MOU and other legal documents for the transaction must still be signed by Lewes BPW, the city of Lewes, the community owner Donovan-Smith MHP, LLC and the community owner’s loan servicer, respectively, negotiations among all parties over the last several months have been finalized and all parties are expected to fully execute the legal documents in the coming days.

The Clean Water Initiative for Underserved Communities, or CWI, is administered by DNREC and was proposed by Gov. Carney to protect public health and minimize environmental hazards and risk for all Delawareans.

“Through the Governor’s Clean Water Initiative, state agencies – particularly DHSS Division of Public Health and DNREC – are in a stronger position to protect, uplift and enhance the standing of Delawareans who until now might have been thwarted by circumstances, costs or lack of community governance structure hampering their rights to safe drinking water and proper wastewater treatment,” DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin said.

The DWSRF, within DHSS, provides support to Delaware drinking water systems through the Disadvantaged Community Subsidy program. This program ensures that DWSRF loans can be forgiven for projects benefitting the most vulnerable communities. Forgiveness of these loans ensures safe drinking water is provided without creating substantial burden on household budgets.

“We are grateful to the Governor, DNREC, the Division of Public Health and all of the entities involved in this clean water initiative benefiting this Lewes community,” DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik said. “Nothing is more inherently important to someone’s health than having clean water to drink and a safe sewer system.”

This CWI pilot project follows DNREC’s citation of the community’s owner twice in the last year with DNREC notices of violations for unsanitary conditions from its failing septic system that posed a threat to residents’ public health and safety.

Among other benefits to the community stemming from this pilot project, under the terms of the transaction, for a period of 20 years, the community owner (not the residents) will bear all of the community’s water and sewer utility costs and current community residents will be insulated from rent increases by the community owner that are based on the owner’s expenses for the community’s utility charges and the arising from installation of the water and sewer.

Construction on the sewer connection project is expected to begin in the first half of 2022, after the project is bid by the Lewes BPW. The CWI will facilitate the installation of approximately 5,000 feet of sewer main (connected into the existing Lewes sewer collection system on Donovan Road), 23 manholes, and approximately 1,500 feet of house sewer services with cleanouts, sewer main and service trench restoration, for 88 existing mobile home units within the Donovan Smith community. Installation of the Lewes BPW public sewer system will eliminate the failing onsite community systems and provide a safer, more sustainable sewage collection and treatment alternative.

The DWSRF-supported component of the pilot project calls for replacing an aging water system sited under the community’s mobile homes and through narrow spaces between the homes. Lewes BPW will install nearly 1,000 feet of 12-inch main to connect to an existing main, and 4,500 feet of internal main within the park, along with meters, service lines, valves, and fire hydrants inside the Donovan Smith community. All this – under the management of DHSS’ Division of Public Health, Health Systems Protection section – reduces potential for system contamination, provides reliable water service to the community and provides fire protection capability to the community.

More information about the Clean Water Initiative for Underserved Communities can be found at de.gov/cwi. More information on the Disadvantaged Community Subsidy and the DWSRF is available on the DHSS website.

About DNREC
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 Environmental Finance team administers Delaware’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund, making funding available to municipalities, the private sector, nonprofit organizations and individuals. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media contacts: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov or Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov

###