Lewes WWTP, fully operational, ends discharge of partially-treated effluent into Lewes-Rehoboth Canal, Delaware Bay

DOVER – The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control was informed today by Tidewater Utilities, Inc. that the Lewes wastewater treatment plant was back online and had resumed normal treatment of effluent following a Dec. 18 system malfunction at the plant. Tidewater Utilities informed DNREC Saturday evening that treatment membranes contaminated during an automated backwashing process which caused the malfunction had been replaced, ending the plant’s system bypass operation that discharged partially-treated effluent for nine days into the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal and the lower Delaware Bay.

Installation today of the new and highly-effective treatment membranes by Tidewater Utilities enabled the Lewes WWTP to treat incoming flow as normal and discontinue bypass pumping. During the bypass operation, DNREC staff was onsite at the plant directing Tidewater Utilities’ sampling of the partially-treated effluent for bacteria levels and monitoring the sampling for possible health risks.

When the system malfunctioned and the bypass operation began, DNREC also ordered immediate closure of shellfish harvest areas in the lower Delaware Bay due to health concerns from partially-treated effluent. The closure of shellfish harvest areas will continue for a 21-day period from the time the bypass situation ended and Lewes wastewater treatment plant’s effluent met required discharge standards. The closure ordered by DNREC is based on US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Guidelines under the National Shellfish Sanitation Program, and provides adequate public health protection for pathogens of concern, including viruses. The closure applies only to clams, oysters and mussels – crabs, conch and fish species are not affected.

Media contact: Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902


DNREC to conduct water-quality dye test in Murderkill River and Delaware Bay to evaluate bay oyster beds

DNREC LogoDOVER – The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Delaware Shellfish Program and Kent County Levy Court will conduct a week-long water quality study starting June 10 in the Murderkill River and Delaware Bay to evaluate the bay’s oyster beds. The study calls for applications of the red dye Rhodamine WT, which is commonly used in water quality and dispersion tests, and is not considered harmful to the public or the environment.

Weather permitting, application of the dye will be made at the Kent County Waste Water Treatment Plant near Frederica into a tributary of the Murderkill River to measure water flow and dispersion in waters where shellfish are harvested, according to DNREC’s Delaware Shellfish Program within the Division of Watershed Stewardship.

DNREC’s shellfish program utilizes a classification system that regulates the harvest of shellfish based on water quality, and which also assesses the potential risk to shellfish harvesting in the event of a wastewater spill. The goal of the red dye study is to help determine the potential impact to oyster beds in the possible event of a wastewater spill or other pollution event.

Dye applications are planned near late-evening low tide on Tuesday, June 11 and will continue until around noon the next day. As a result of the dye applications, portions of the Delaware Bay, Murderkill River and St. Jones River may turn reddish in color. The extent of water discoloration could be fairly widespread but should disperse within 48 hours.

The study – known as hydrographic dye dilution – will be conducted by DNREC in conjunction with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Kent County Department of Public Works. Results will help to appropriately classify shellfish harvesting waters, assess risk, and facilitate emergency closure provisions in the event of a wastewater spill associated with extreme weather or natural disasters, such as hurricanes, nor’easters, or heavy flooding. Information collected will be used by the FDA and DNREC to evaluate potential water quality impacts and closure of shellfish growing areas in the Delaware Bay under such emergency situations.

For more information on DNREC’s Delaware Shellfish Program, please visit de.gov/shellfish.

Media contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 49, No. 145


DNREC’s DuPont Nature Center to reopen April 4

Volunteers sought for spring cleanup day March 18

DOVER – The DuPont Nature Center at Mispillion Harbor Reserve, a DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife facility located in the heart of Delaware’s Bayshore Region, will reopen Wednesday, April 4 after being closed for the winter. The center will operate from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays through the end of April. From May 1 through Aug. 30, spring and summer hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, closed Mondays. For the month of September, the center will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays only.

Prior to reopening day, the DuPont Nature Center will hold a volunteer spring cleanup day from 1-3 p.m. Sunday, March 18. Projects include exhibit and tank set-up, deck maintenance, painting, planting beach grass and cleaning the center and the surrounding grounds. Volunteers under age 18 must provide a parental consent form, and volunteers under age 16 must be accompanied by an adult. For more information or to sign up to volunteer, contact Lynne Pusey at lynne.pusey@delaware.gov or 302-422-1329.

Located on the edge of Mispillion Harbor at the intersection of the mouths of the Mispillion River and Cedar Creek, the DuPont Nature Center at Mispillion Harbor Reserve offers a variety of interactive exhibits and educational programs. Spring and summer programs can be viewed at de.gov/dnc. Indoor freshwater and saltwater tanks allow a close-up look at a variety of aquatic species, from horseshoe crabs to diamondback terrapins.

In the spring, the center’s large deck overlooking the harbor offers wildlife watchers an unparalleled view of the spectacle of spawning horseshoe crabs and migrating shorebirds, including red knots, that depend on horseshoe crab eggs to help fuel their 9,000-mile journey.

The DuPont Nature Center is located at 2992 Lighthouse Road, near Slaughter Beach, east of Milford. Admission to the center is free and open to the public. For general information about the center, please call 302-422-1329 or visit DuPont Nature Center. For inquiries about the center’s programs and operations, please contact Lynne Pusey, lynne.pusey@delaware.gov or 302-422-1329.

Follow the Division of Fish & Wildlife on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/DelawareFishWildlife.

Media contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.

Vol. 48, No. 56


DNREC, DHSS issue new fish consumption advisories that reflect continuing improvement in water quality for Delaware waterways

DOVER – New fish consumption advisories issued today by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) and the Department of Health and Social Services’ Division of Public Health (DHSS/DPH) show that the concentration of chemical contaminants in fish caught from Delaware waterways continues to decline – which indicates water quality is improving throughout the state and also means that fish caught in many Delaware waters can be eaten today with lowered concerns about risks to public health.

Fish consumption advisories are recommendations by DNREC and DHSS to limit or avoid eating certain species of fish caught in local waters due to potential health risks from contaminants. The latest advisories convey that anglers and the public can eat more fish caught locally, while keeping health risks low and enjoying the dietary health benefits that fish provide. The agencies’ recommendations on the safe amount of fish that can be eaten are based on the testing of these fish by DNREC and an assessment of the health risks associated with their consumption.

The updated advisories communicate continuing good news to anglers and anyone who would include locally-caught fish in their diet, by following the same trend as the 2016 fish consumption advisories that showed some of the most significant declines in fish tissue contaminant concentrations since the state began assessing contaminants in fish in 1986.

“Seeing the positive results of regional efforts to restore water quality and the health of Delaware’s aquatic resources is very exciting and encouraging,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “I anticipate that, with continued cleanup efforts and cooperation between DNREC, DHSS, and our regional partners who include New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the Delaware River Basin Commission, that we will continue to see a trend of improvement into the future.”

“The improved water quality allowing people to eat more fish caught in local waterways is good news across the board,” said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a board-certified family physician. “Consuming fish is an essential part of a healthy diet because fish contain so many key nutrients, are low in saturated fat and contain omega-3 fatty acids. The updated advisories will help Delawareans make good decisions for themselves and their families about the right kinds of fish to eat from our state’s waterways, as well as the right amount.”

Many of the contaminants that prompt fish consumption advisories in Delaware are “legacy pollutants” – chemicals, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), the banned insecticide DDT, and dioxins and furans that were released into waterways in significant quantities in the past. These legacy pollutants are slow to break down in the environment and can accumulate in fish as well as in bottom sediments of lakes, streams and estuaries.

The improvements, evidenced through relaxed advisories, are largely the result of declining PCB concentrations in fish, as much as 50 to 60 percent less in some state waters. The reduction in PCB levels is attributable to several efforts, including state-of-the-science testing to identify, prioritize, and control remaining sources of contaminants and to innovative clean-up strategies, including adding activated carbon and quicklime to sediments that bind contaminants and limit their transfer to the water and fish.

The latest updates to Delaware’s fish consumption advisories include the tidal Delaware River, the lower Delaware River and Delaware Bay, Atlantic Coastal waters, Waples Pond, Prime Hook Creek and Slaughter Creek. Additionally, a special study conducted in 2016 and 2017 indicates that the Red Clay Creek in New Castle County can be reinstated this year as a stream suitable for trout stocking by DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife, more than 30 years after being taken off the state’s trout-fishing list due to contaminant concerns.

Fish consumption advisory data can be found on the DNREC website. Fish consumption advisory charts can be found on DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife website. For more information, please contact John G. Cargill, phone: 302-739-9939 or email: John.Cargill@delaware.gov.

Media contacts:
Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902
Jill Fredel, DHSS Director of Communications, 302-255-9047

Vol. 48, No. 32


DNREC establishes 21-day timeframe for extended closure of Delaware Bay for recreational shellfish harvest

DOVER – As reported this week to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Surface Water Discharges Section, Kent County’s wastewater treatment plant is back within acceptable water quality levels for the effluent discharged into the Murderkill River – leading DNREC to establish a timeframe for a federally-advised 21-day closure of recreational shellfish harvest in the Delaware Bay north of the Mispillion Inlet.

The 21-day closure in effect for potential public health risks extends from July 24 to Aug. 14.

The closure of shellfish harvest in the Delaware Bay – ordered July 18 by DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin because of the plant’s discharge of undertreated wastewater – is based on US Food and Drug Administration Guidelines under the National Shellfish Sanitation Program, and provides adequate public health protection for pathogens of concern, including viruses.

Media contact: Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 47, No. 165