When in doubt, look to the sewer.


Maybe that’s a bit oversimplistic, but there seems to be a harmonious partnership between various entities when it comes to paying for sewer expansion that’s just not seen in every area of services throughout our community.

On Tuesday, officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development program announced more federal funding for the Millville-area swer expansion project — total funding from the USDA (comprised of a mixture of loans and grants) is now up to $10 million of the $34 million project. The rest of the funding is coming from a combination of developers (an impressive $13 million), the state ($10.5 million) and Sussex County Council ($500,000).

Don’t you wish the partnerships between the state, private enterprise and federal government worked as well on roads? Or beaches? Isn’t there something going on with the USDA that other organizations should be paying attention to regarding partnering with local governments? And why exactly is the USDA so interested in our local sewers?

Well, the last one is easy.

Central sewer systems are believed to be environmentally-friendly. The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) has routinely praised Sussex County’s replacement of polluting, failing and outdated septic systems — as many as 14,000 individual septic systems have been replaced throughout the local area. Officials say that the replacement of these systems with central sewer systems has reduced the amount of nitrogen entering the bays by up to 89 pounds a day. That’s where the USDA’s interest lies.

And that’s why they are so quick to chip in so emphatically with help.

So, in that vein, why wouldn’t the federal government help with money for beach replenishment when the reality is that a significant storm could flood out this entire community without some kind of natural barrier? We understand that, using the sole criteria of public safety, some of our local road projects might get delayed from time to time, but when it comes to something like the rickety Indian River Inlet Bridge, shouldn’t something be done immediately and with certainty? Shouldn’t that money have been pinned down years ago?

We applaud the efforts of Sussex County Council, local builders and the USDA in coming up with the money to expand the Millville-area sewer system. We only hope we can applaud more projects like this one down the road.