News Feature | September 8, 2017

Delaware Set To Open First-Ever Non-Profit Wastewater Treatment Plant

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga

Like many other states, Delaware has residents in small, rural areas who cannot be served by centralized drinking water or wastewater treatment plants, and face obstacles as a result.

“There are about 80 small, rural communities in Delaware who own and operate on-site wastewater treatment systems,” reported WBOC.  “These communities are often under-resourced and because of geographical distance cannot access central sewer service from a county or municipality.”

In a first for Delaware, three non-profit organizations are banning together to create the “Clean Water Solutions” program, which will result in the state’s first non-profit wastewater utility, serving a small community in Bridgeville, DE.

Senator Tom Carper, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, and representatives from the new program announced the funding late last month. The program will be funded through two grants: a $25,000 one that will help start the non-profit utility company and a $30,000 one to prepare an engineering and environmental report for the local Country Glen wastewater system.

“What we have here is an idea that I think can be replicated in communities like this across Delmarva,” said Carper, per WBOC. “I think through the national governors association this idea can be spread throughout the country.”

But most immediately, it will be a savior for people like Mike Mills, president of an HOA in Bridgeville and often the first call when residents have septic issues.

“A couple of months ago, it was just about every day until I found what the problem was and then another problem and another problem,” Mills said, according to WBOC.

The model may be one that is adopted more widely, as much of the country still goes unserved by centralized wastewater treatment utilities.

“More than 21 million households in the United States use a septic system — not a public sewer — to trap and filter their toilet waste,” according to research organization Circle of Blue. “The underground tanks are most common in rural areas, especially in New England and the Deep South. They are an often overlooked source of water pollution and disease transmission.”

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Funding Solutions Center.