County gets major shot of help

Sussex County received a much-needed shot in the arm last week with the receipt of $19.2 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help finance wastewater projects. The money was provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Whether or not you agree with the federal government handing out these enormous checks to attempt to stimulate the economy, the reality is that this money will offer immediate help. New sanitary sewer districts and improvements at Angola Neck, Johnson’s Corner, Oak Orchard, the Inland Bays Wastewater Facility and the Woodlands at Millsboro will all receive vital funding, and lessen the load on residents to pay for it.

Together, these projects are expected to lessen the annual nutrient load going into the Inland Bays watershed by more than 45,000 pounds of nitrogen and more than 2,500 pounds of phosphorous. That, in turn, can improve water quality, and help the wildlife and fish habitat.

The Johnson’s Corner project alone will eliminate about 675 septic systems and prevent another 102 from being installed.

“This is going to be a great help,” said Rep. Gerald Hocker (R-38th District). “This is quite a large district with not all that many residents, so the cost is extremely high.”

And about 450 jobs will come with the projects.

The excitement over the projects is really about “jobs, jobs, jobs,” said U.S. Sen. Edward “Ted” Kaufman (D-Del.). And he is right.

The feds can hand out money and fix things that need fixed, but without new jobs for people, there are still very real problems — both for individuals and the local economy in general.

The monies will also go to Green Project Reserve Funding. Sussex projects included under that umbrella include the Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary and the Town of Millsboro Wastewater and Reuse Project. The funds must be used for green infrastructure projects.

“This is just one part of legislation,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.). “It’s a big shot in the arm, but it’s not the end of the road.”