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UPDATE: Another release of partially treated wastewater in Lewes

Shannon McNaught * Delaware
shannon.marvel@doverpost.com
Milford Beacon

The Lewes Wastewater Treatment Plant has again released partially treated wastewater, this time for two hours on the evening of Wednesday, Jan. 1.

The plant released partially treated wastewater for nine days in December after part of the treatment system was damaged. Regular treatment resumed on Dec. 28, after new parts were delivered.

Those parts were membranes, similar to filters, and they had been damaged in an automatic cleaning process. According to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, pressure build-up behind the new membranes was what led to Wednesday night's release. 

Tidewater, the company that operates the plant, after consulting with the membrane manufacturer, is working to minimize pressure build-up in the future. They informed DNREC that another set of refurbished membranes would be put in service today to alleviate strain. Tidewater does not expect anymore issues.

During both releases, the partially treated wastewater flowed into the Lewes Rehoboth Canal, which leads to the Delaware Bay.

The nine-day incident in December was an environmental violation, DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin confirmed today. Information is being gathered to determine appropriate action.

Related links:

Lewes wastewater treatment plant resumes full function

DNREC explains delay of public notification

Partially-treated wastewater flowing into canal

DNREC has issued an emergency shellfish closure in the lower Delaware Bay, from the Mispillion River Inlet to The Point at Cape Henlopen State Park and east to New Jersey. The closure will continue through Jan. 18, 2020.

The ban applies to clams, oysters and mussels. Crabs, conch and fish are not affected.